Some countries (e.g., U.S., Israel) require their citizens to present themselves as such when entering the country - that is, they cannot enter using another country's passport. In Canada there is no such requirement: Currently, a Canadian citizen may use another country's passport to enter Canada, if they have one.

Starting March 15, 2016, visa-exempt foreign nationals who fly to Canada will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), except for U.S. citizens.

On the eTA application site, it says:


You cannot apply for an eTA if you are:

  • a Canadian citizen or a dual Canadian citizen, ....

Does this mean that when the eTA requirement takes effect, it will become illegal for Canadians to enter Canada by air using a passport from any visa-exempt country other than Canada or the U.S.? If a Canadian citizen obtains an eTA using their foreign passport and enters Canada with it, what law or regulation will they be violating?

  • I don't see how it forbids you from entering Canada with a foreign passport. All this means is, if you intend to use your Canadian passport you can't apply for an eTA (why would you need it ?) and if you're using another passport then you need an eTA
    – blackbird
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 1:59
  • 1
    The post does raise the question as to why you want to enter without revealing your Canadian citizenship. But the website specifies "flying to", so one might assume the airlines will check this before boarding in which case you can show your Canadian passport to bypass the requirement. And one might also assume this is in response to the current terrorist tactics to let Canadian authorities know who is arriving. Since the website does not state whether the eTA will be double checked by the Immigration Official upon landing hard to say what will happen in your scenario when you get there.
    – user13044
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 2:18
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    "If a Canadian citizen obtains an eTA using their foreign passport and enters Canada with it, what law or regulation will they be violating?" I think the weak link is the "if a Canadian citizen obtains an eTA" in the first place. If they say you can't obtain it, then how can you obtain it? Presumably, they could simply deny eTA to Canadian citizens. That would make it impossible to use those visa-exempt foreign passports to enter Canada without making it explicitly illegal. (I don't know whether they will or not; just saying they could do that.)
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 3:30
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    @blackbird57 What you say it means is not what it says. Even if you interpret "if you are a Canadian citizen" as "if you intend to use your Canadian passport", how do you understand "or a dual Canadian citizen"? Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:57
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    @Tom The fact that "most countries have rules" does not mean that Canada has such a rule. That's exactly what I'm asking: until now Canada has not had such a rule, so I'm wondering whether that is about to change. Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


I hold dual British Canadian citizenship, having been born in Britain and later emigrated with my family to Canada as a child. As an adult I moved back to the UK and have lived in England since 2005. I have always travelled on my British passport, having found it too expensive to maintain two passports and choosing to keep up my British passport for ease of travel in Europe and to be able to stand in the same queues in customs with my British husband.

I have just returned from 2 weeks in Ontario, to visit my family. I was denied an ETA since I hold dual British-Canadian citizenship. Fortunately this was before they will start enforcing the ETA requirement, however the reply below Indicates that people in my situation will only be able to enter Canada on a Canadian passport.

The Canadian Emvassy in London wasn't responsive over the telephone, but I received this email reply:

A review of your Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) application has revealed that you are a Canadian citizen and are therefore not eligible to apply for an eTA. When travelling to Canada, you are expected to travel as a Canadian citizen and use your Canadian passport.

If you do not have a Canadian passport, please contact the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development at the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission.

Your application is now closed. You are not considered to hold a valid eTA.

  • 3
    It isn't that you can't enter Canada, it is only that you can't fly to Canada. This is the same situation that dual Canadian citizens whose other passport is from a non-visa-exempt country have long been in. Like them, you could still enter Canada from the US via the land border.
    – user38879
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 14:51

I'm not an expert on Canadian law, but legally speaking the answer seems to be yes, unless you hold an exemption or travel to Canada overland via the United States.

1) The Government of Canada Help Center specifies that:

Please Note: Canadian citizens (including dual citizens) cannot apply for an eTA.

2) The Canadian eTA application website asks you the following question:

Indicate if you are a citizen of a country/territory other than the one on your passport.

3) Specifying 'Canada' as a second country of citizenship will (most likely) result in a refused eTA application. Failing to include that information will result in the crime of Document Fraud (Misrepresentation):

It is a serious crime to lie, or to send false information or documents, when you deal with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). This is fraud. It is called “misrepresentation.”

A more legalese definition is provided in Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27, s 127:


  1. No person shall knowingly

(a) directly or indirectly misrepresent or withhold material facts relating to a relevant matter that induces or could induce an error in the administration of this Act;

4) The official penalty for the crime of Misrepresentation is defined in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c 27, s 128:


  1. A person who contravenes a provision of section 126 or 127 is guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, or to both; or

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine of not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both.

There are also the possibly penalties of deportation and/or entry bans, however they obviously don't apply to Canadian citizens. The only possible options for Canadian dual citizens to travel to Canada are therefore:

  1. Fly using their Canadian passports
  2. Enter Canada over land or water via the US, where an eTA is not needed
  3. Apply for a special exemption from the Canadian authorities, allowing you to enter Canada on a foreign passport.
  • It's also possible that 3. they present evidence of Canadian citizenship without a Canadian passport (since Canadian citizens have the right to enter Canada and are not required to use a Canadian passport to enter Canada), although the chance of the airline being satisfied with that is slim.
    – user102008
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 20:08
  • @user102008 the bigger question is immigration, where Ari Brodsky wants to use his non-Canadian passport
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 20:12
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    Canadian immigration has been admitting Canadians with non-Canadian passports for decades, so that seems not to be much of a question at all. The problem is the airline.
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 19:50
  • Option four would be to rescind one's Canadian citizenship, if one finds the cost of obtaining a Canadian passport objectionable. Of course, this will remove the right to enter Canada, and the person will be admitted subject to his/her own merits instead. Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 22:14

Update: This page clarifies that starting November 10, 2016, Canadian dual citizens will no longer be able to enter Canada with a foreign visa-exempt passport (other than a US passport). However, until January 31, 2017, people meeting certain conditions may apply for a special authorization that, if approved, will allow the person to board the flight.

Not illegal, but maybe practically impossible, at least by air.

This FAQ question directly address your question: I am a Canadian citizen and a citizen of a visa-exempt country. Can I still fly to Canada with my foreign passport?

It confirms that currently (I guess before eTA is required), you can enter Canada using a foreign passport. But it says that once Canada starts requiring airlines to verify proof that the person can enter Canada (I guess this is after eTA is required?), if you present a foreign passport, you may face delays or be denied boarding. It doesn't say why, but that is presumably because, as it says later, Canadian dual citizens cannot apply for eTA.

Note that eTA is not required for entry by land or sea, so that route is probably still available for a Canadian citizen to enter with a non-US visa-exempt foreign passport.

  • Is there a prescribed penalty for applying for an eTA while holding a Canadian passport? The usual penalty for immigration purposes is deportation, which is obviously not applicable to Canadians.
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 9:27
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    @JonathanReez I presume your eTA will be refused.
    – user4188
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 9:44
  • @chx I've managed to locate the relevant sections of the law, see my answer below :)
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Jan 29, 2016 at 11:13
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    canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/… - you can now apply for the exemption even after Jan 31 2017
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 18:32

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