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Home > Immigration and Visa Information > Canadian Immigration > How to Visit Canada




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How to Visit Canada

Every year more than 37 million people visit Canada. Most are tourists but some are international students, temporary workers or entertainers. Others come for business or just pass through on their way to other countries.

If you want to visit Canada for a few days or several months, you must meet some important immigration requirements. This pamphlet will help you find out about these before you make final travel plans.

You must be healthy and law-abiding

To visit Canada:

  • you must be in good health, law-abiding and have enough money to support yourself and your dependants during your stay;
  • in most cases, you will need a valid passport, proof of identity or other travel documents;
  • you must get a special authorization if you are coming to study or work;
  • you must have a visitor's visa to travel to Canada if you are a citizen of one of a number of countries. Find out if you will need a visa before leaving home.

Check with the nearest Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate

As soon as you have decided to visit Canada, call or visit the nearest Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate to find out exactly what documents you will need, and how long it will take to receive them. There are more than 100 Canadian Embassies, High Commissions, Consulates and Missions throughout the world.

You must get any visa or authorization you need before you leave for Canada. If you want to work or study, apply early because it will take time to receive all the papers and certificates you will need (you may have to get some from Canada). A student or worker authorization can be processed in a matter of days or it can take up to six months, depending on how quickly you can provide the necessary supporting documents.

Before leaving home, you should also get a health insurance plan to pay for any hospital or medical services you may need while in Canada.

Have your papers ready when you arrive in Canada

When you arrive in Canada you will be examined by an immigration official.

You can help make the immigration interview as short as possible by answering all questions simply and honestly. You should have your passport and other documents ready and with you rather than in your luggage.

Check your visa or passport

Your passport or travel documents will be stamped to indicate how long you may stay in Canada.

Please check to make sure you understand when you will have to leave. If you have any questions about how long you can stay in Canada be sure to ask an immigration officer on your arrival or during your stay.

Under special circumstances you may be allowed to extend your visit

You may have your period of authorized stay in Canada extended, or your conditions of entry changed.

For example, if you have come to visit family and wish to stay longer for a special reason, such as a wedding, you may be allowed to extend your stay. This is only possible if you apply at a Canada Immigration Centre before the end of your authorized stay. In order for us to process an application for a visitor extension we ordinarily require 15 working days. This means you should apply at least three weeks before the expiry date of your stay.

You are not normally allowed to change your status once you are in Canada. For example, a tourist cannot accept a job or become a student. People with authorizations to work in Canada must apply for new employment authorizations before they can change jobs.

You must follow the terms and conditions of your stay. All terms and conditions are specified on your student or employment authorization or your visitor record.

Enforcement of the Immigration Act

If the immigration officer believes that you may not respect your conditions of entry, you may be asked for a substantial cash deposit or other security to ensure that you will respect the terms of your entry.

If you give incomplete or false information and identification, you can be refused admission. If you do not respect your conditions of entry, work or attend courses without permission, stay longer than authorized, or threaten law and order in Canada, you may be removed from the country.

Depending on the seriousness of your offense, you could be barred from returning to Canada for varying periods of time.

The law protects you

Canada's immigration law protects the people who live in Canada and those who come to visit.

It welcomes everyone who comes for a valid reason, and it keeps out anyone who may threaten the peace and security of the country.

If upon arrival at a Canadian port of entry you are not allowed into Canada or are asked to leave, you have the right to an impartial hearing.

If you are outside Canada and would like information and advice on your visit, contact the nearest Canadian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. In Canada, call or visit your local Canada Immigration Center. Information and guidance is free of charge but certain fees do apply for

  • issuance of a visitor visa,
  • a request for an employment and student authorization,
  • a request to extend visitor status in Canada.

For more information, contact your nearest Canada Immigration Centre or a Canadian diplomatic mission abroad.

This is not a legal document. For precise, legal information consult the Immigration Act and Regulations.

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