Author: Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB
Last Updated On: September 23, 2023

Special authorization and its alternatives for Canadian dual citizens

Special authorization for Canadian dual citizens.

Sophi is a dual citizen of Canada and France. She recently became a Canadian citizen but urgently had to travel back to France. Now that she wants to travel back to Canada, she may not use her French passport as she is not eligible for an eTA. Sophi is a Canadian citizen, after all. Consequently, she is seeking special authorization to return.

Introduction: the importance of a valid Canadian passport for travel

Thanks to the Mobility rights under the Constitution Act of 1982, Canadians have the right to enter Canada. However, how can you prove you are a Canadian? Any identification could do the job if you show up at a port of entry. However, when you travel by air, train or ship, the transportation company needs proof that you can travel to Canada. A Canadian passport is the best tool to establish your identity and citizenship.

Other documents, such as a Canadian Citizenship Card (not available to recently naturalized Canadians), a Canadian birth certificate, or a Citizenship Certificate, could reflect your citizenship. Nonetheless, they are not widely recognized. Therefore, your best bet is to show your valid Canadian passport when confirming your identity and citizenship.

What is special authorization? An overview

In the past, Canadian dual citizens of visa-exempt countries could freely travel to Canada with their other passports. For example, if you were a French citizen. You could also travel to Canada with your French passport despite being a Canadian citizen. However, this changed in 2016 when Canada introduced eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) for most visa-exempt countries. As a French citizen, you must now apply for an eTA to travel to Canada.

Nonetheless, you may not apply for an eTA as a Canadian citizen. What should you do then? There are two primary solutions:

  • Recommended – Get a Canadian passport
  • Alternative – Get a special authorization

The latter is not always available, so it is in your best interest to apply for a Canadian passport as soon as possible.

Do US-Canadian dual citizens need a Canadian passport or special authorization?

Since American citizens do not need a visa or eTA to travel to Canada, they may use their passports. In other words, US citizens are exempt from the requirement of a Canadian passport or special authorization, even if they are Canadian citizens. However, at the port of entry, they may still need to establish their Canadian citizenship for the following reasons:

  • The right to enter Canada without any issues
  • To overcome potential inadmissibility to Canada (e.g., because of a criminal history in the US)
  • To remain in Canada for as long as they want
  • To verify their right to work or study in Canada

Because of these reasons, it is in the best interest of US-Canada dual citizens to also get a Canadian passport. However, consider the following:

  • I am not an expert in the field of American immigration rules. Make sure to follow them as well.
  • This group is not eligible for special authorization.

What is special authorization?

A special authorization is an electronic letter from the Canadian authorities. You must carry an electronic or print copy with your visa-exempt passport when boarding a vehicle destined for Canada. You also need other documents that prove you are a Canadian. The following image shows the recommendations by IRCC.

Dual citizens returning to Canada

Please note that this option is only available to those dual citizens whose other citizenship is visa-exempt.

Eligibility criteria for special authorization

The recommended permanent solution is to get a Canadian passport. However, you may apply for special authorization if you meet all the following criteria:

  • Don’t have a Canadian passport valid for your travel day.
  • Your flight to Canada departs in fewer than ten days.
  • Possess a valid passport from a country that doesn’t require a visa for Canada.
  • You are not a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.

Also, you must meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Previously obtained a Canadian citizenship certificate, or
  • Used to have a Canadian passport, or
  • You became a Canadian citizen after being a permanent resident in Canada.

Applying for special authorization: a step-by-step guide

To apply, take the following steps:

  1. Have your current passport from a visa-exempt country next to you. Furthermore, if you have a document that proves your Canadian citizenship, make sure to have them next to you.
  2. Click here and locate the following button. It is close to the bottom of the page.
  3. A message box appears. Read it carefully and then click “Continue to special authorization request.”
  4. Enter your passport and travel information.
  5. Under the Additional Comments text, you may add the following information (optional):
    • Explaining the urgency of your request
    • Mentioning essential information that helps authorities confirm your Canadian citizenship (e.g., your UCI)
  6. Click the consent checkbox. Enter your name as the signature. Click “Submit.”

You must submit this form in less than ten days before your flight. Since the processing could take time, do your best to submit the form closer to the ten-day limit.

Alternative routes: emergency or regular passports

Special authorization is a band-aid solution. Moreover, sometimes you do not qualify. Here are some examples:

  • You are a citizen of a visa-required country
  • Your flight is more than ten days from now

To overcome the problem, you’d better apply for a Canadian passport. If you are outside Canada and need a passport urgently, you may email [email protected] or fill out the Emergency contact form. You could alternatively use one of the following phone options:

Please note that these contact information are not for immigration matters. Only call them if you need assistance receiving a Canadian passport outside Canada.

Canadian authorities sometimes issue an eight-page temporary passport for you to facilitate your travel. Such passports expire in a year or less. Therefore, in such situations, you must apply for a regular passport as soon as possible.

Let us help!

If you need assistance in obtaining special authorization, please book a consultation session with me. Alternatively, you may contact us or fill out the following form if you are facing immigration issues.

    Welcome! We're here to help you with your immigration concerns. Please provide some initial information to help us understand your situation and guide you better. Your journey towards resolving immigration issues begins here.

    Personal Information

    Full Name (required)

    Email (required)

    Confirm Email (required)

    WhatsApp number (optional)

    Immigration Concerns

    Are you inadmissible to Canada?

    YesNoI don't know

    Have you received a removal order from Canada?

    Yes, DepartureYes, ExclusionYes, DeportationYes, type unknownNoI don't know

    Any other issues (select all that apply)?

    Do you believe humanitarian and compassionate grounds apply to you?

    YesNoI don't know

    Please explain the issue briefly:

    Additional Resources

    Upload a file that could help us better understand your situation - only PDF, JPG or PNG and less than 0.5MB. Examples of helpful documents include: refusal letters, other correspondence from immigration authorities, etc.

    Your Next Step

    If you prefer to discuss your situation directly, you can book a consultation session with Al Parsai. Please note that the consultation is not free. By submitting this form, you're taking the first step towards receiving professional guidance on your immigration journey. We will review your information and advise if it is best to book a consultation with him.

    We take your privacy seriously. Your information will only be used to assess your situation and to contact you.

    Client Testimonials

    We are proud to have a rating of 4.8/5 based on tens of reviews. Here's what one of many of our satisfied clients had to say about our services:

    A testimonial by a satisfied consultation client.

    You can find more reviews by searching for "Parsai Immigration Services" on Google.

    Related Posts

    Understanding the Roles of Immigration Practitioners in Canada

    Jul 23, 2024

    Business Visitor Entry Under CUSMA for U.S. and Mexican Citizens

    Jul 21, 2024

    Can You Get Express Entry CRS Points with a Trade Certificate?

    Jul 20, 2024

    Navigating Skilled Trades and Licensing in Canada for Immigration

    Jul 18, 2024

    Would you please fill out our free assessment form if you wish to visit or move to Canada? We will review it for free, but we will contact you only if we find an opportunity for you. Alternatively, you may book a consultation session. Consultation sessions are not free, but you will receive formal immigration advice from a licensed practitioner.

    Al ParsaiAl Parsai, LLM, MA, RCIC-IRB
    Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant
    Adjunct Professor – Queen’s University – Faculty of Law
    Ashton College Instructor – Immigration Consulting
    Author – 88 Tips on Immigration to Canada

    Fill our Free Canada Immigration Assessment Form in your language!

    This article provides information of a general nature only. Considering the fluid nature of the immigration world, it may no longer be current. Of course, the item does not give legal advice. Therefore, do not rely on it as legal advice or immigration advice. Consequently, no one could hold us accountable for the content of these articles. Of course, if you have specific legal questions, you must consult a lawyer. Alternatively, if you are looking for immigration advice, book an appointment.

    The characters and places in the articles:
    All the characters and locations in the articles are fictional, unless otherwise clearly stated. Therefore, any resemblance in names, dates, and places is coincidental.

    Important Notes:
    For our official addresses, trust this website only. We currently do not have offices outside Canada. Therefore, anyone who claims to be our agent is committing fraud. Also, note that we do not issue any work permits or study permits or similar documents. The government of Canada has the sole authority to issue such material.

    Click to read the disclaimer.

    Al Parsai, LL.M, RCIC-IRB

    Al Parsai is a distinguished Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (L3 RCIC-IRB – Unrestricted Practice) hailing from vibrant Toronto, Canada. Al's academic achievements include an esteemed role as an adjunct professor at prestigious Queen's University Law School and Ashton College, as well as a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from York University (Osgood Hall Law School). A respected member of CICC, Al's insights are further enriched by his experience as the dynamic CEO of Parsai Immigration Services. Guiding thousands of applicants from over 55 countries through the immigration process since 2011, Al's articles offer a wealth of invaluable knowledge for readers.