Any trip to Canada requires a great deal of preparation. Apply for an eTA Canada or visa before departure. Anyone flying to Canada must have a valid passport and a valid travel authorisation. This article provides an overview of the preparations you need to make before travelling to Canada.
The documents and items listed below are best stored in your hand luggage so that they are available when required. It is also wise to put a change of clothes in your hand luggage just in case. In the unlikely event that your luggage in the hold gets lost, you will always have an extra set at hand. For that same reason, it is advised carrying important documents and items in your hand luggage. These include medicines and valuables, but also, for example, a toothbrush, toothpaste, chargers and your mobile phone, tablet or laptop.
Passport: Every traveller must be able to identify themselves at customs, meaning a passport is required. This way, the customs officer knows who you are and where you come from. An identity card is not a valid travel document for Canada. The eTA, the travel authorisation for Canada, can only be applied for with a passport. Before applying for the eTA or visa, ensure that your passport has sufficient remaining validity, and always travel with the same passport you used to apply for your visa or eTA. This is because the visa or eTA is linked to your passport number.
Flight tickets: When checking in, handing over your passport generally suffices. However, just to be sure, it is wise to print your flight tickets and carry them with you, so you can show them when asked.
Visa or eTA Canada: To fly to Canada, you must have a visa or eTA. Most travellers with the nationality of a European country qualify for the eTA. This travel authorisation can be applied for easily and quickly by using the online eTA application form. There is no need to go to the embassy or consulate. Because the eTA is valid for no less than five years, this travel authorisation can already be applied for before you have booked your trip.
Money and payment cards
Debit card: In Canada, debit cards are accepted in most places, and you can withdraw Canadian dollars from most ATMs with your debit card. Most debit cards (with a V-Pay or Maestro logo) are accepted worldwide. It is advised withdrawing larger amounts rather than several smaller amounts as banks charge transaction fees per transaction. For security reasons, many banks block payment cards from being used outside Europe. To be able to withdraw money in Canada, you will therefore first have to contact your bank to have your card activated for use outside Europe. Sometimes, you can do this yourself in the app or your bank’s website.
Credit card: Credit cards are also widely used in Canada, and accepted everywhere. In fact, there are establishments that only accept credit cards and do not accept debit cards. This is because the limit of a credit card is higher and for some services, such as deposits or reservations, you can only pay with a credit card. If you do not yet have a credit card, you can apply for one at your bank or at a credit card company before you leave.
Cash money: Although it is safer not to have too much cash on you, it can be useful to carry a small amount, for example for tipping.
Driving license in combination with an International Driving Licence: In theory, a British or Irish driving license is sufficient to rent a vehicle in Canada. However, some rental companies in Canada require an international driving licence. It is advised carrying an international driving licence (along with your normal driving licence) before travelling to Canada if you plan to rent a car or motorbike in the country.
You can check in your hold or check-in luggage at the airport and collect it after landing in Canada. Hold luggage usually includes clothing and larger quantities of liquids. It is also wise to put copies of important documents and passes in your hold luggage. These include your passport, airline tickets, travel itinerary, driving licence, international driving licence, credit card and visa or eTA Canada. Naturally, less value is attached to copies than to the original documents, and they are therefore not accepted everywhere. However, it can be useful to carry copies if you lose the original documents. In order to avoid losing both the original and the copy of the document, it is best to put the copies in your hold luggage and the original documents in your hand luggage. You can also keep the copies on your phone, but it is important that you always lock it when you are not using it.
Proof of insurance
Proof of Health Insurance: Upon arrival in Canada, you may be asked for proof of your health insurance at the passport control. Keep a print of it in your hand luggage.
Proof of Travel Insurance: With travel insurance, you and your belongings are insured during your stay in Canada. In most cases, the insurance covers additional costs such as those incurred due to illness or death. Make sure you have travel insurance before you leave, if you do not already have it. It is advised printing the proof of this insurance so that you can hand it over when asked by the immigration authorities in Canada. In addition, put the phone numbers of your insurance contacts in your phone, so they are available in case of an emergency.
Proof of your Cancellation Insurance: Travel insurance should not be confused with cancellation insurance. Although both insurances are created to protect you against possible financial risks, cancellation insurance covers any costs in the event that your trip cannot take place due to illness, death, etc.
- Apply for your Canada visa or eta.
- Book your flight tickets.
- Book your accommodations.
- Apply for an international driving licence if you want to drive in Canada.
- Take out travel and cancellation insurance.
- Contact your bank to activate your debit card outside of Europe.
- Make copies of important documents (passport, airline tickets, travel itinerary, driving licence, international driving licence, credit card and eTA or visa).
- Print out your airline tickets and insurance details (travel, cancellation and health insurance).
- Save important phone numbers in your phone (contact persons of insurances, accommodation, contact persons in case of emergency, etc.).
- Write down addresses for those staying at home.
- Pack your luggage.