Canadians who hold dual citizenship with another country will soon be required to use their Canadian passport when returning here — a change that may have caught many of the nearly one million dual citizens by surprise.
“A passport from any country is already accepted as a universal ID,” JaShong King, an Ottawa student, tells Yahoo Canada News. “Why not have those passports as identification, and the border computers check it?”
“Starting September 30, 2016, all air travellers will need to have appropriate documents to travel to Canada before they can board their flight. Canadians, including dual citizens, will need to show proof they are Canadian citizens and use the right travel documents,” reads the Government of Canada website.
The government warns online that Canadian citizens travelling without a Canadian passport, temporary Canadian passport or a Canadian emergency travel document may not be allowed to board their flight into Canada. The policy change is part of a wider move towards an electronic screening system meant to increase border security.
An official from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was not immediately available for comment.
The government began distributing handouts advising of the change at airports and posting about the upcoming requirement on social media in March, the Toronto Star reports.
Also at the end of September, Canadians will no longer be eligible to use the electronic travel authorization system introduced last year that requires air passengers to submit biographic, passport and other personal information through the immigration department to be prescreened for entry to Canada. When the new policy comes into effect, holders of a Canadian passport will be expected to use that for entry instead.
Right now Canadians can use their passport from another country to enter this one as long as they provide proof of Canadian residency, including a driver’s licence or citizenship card.
King has citizenship to Canada, the United States and the Republic of China (Taiwan), and has valid passports for all three countries. He travels between Canada and the United States often, and wonders if the new policy will affect his NEXUS status with the U.S.
“I mostly travel on my NEXUS card, so I’m also worried if that document is still valid for entry into Canada,” King says.
NEXUS is designed to speed up Canada-U.S. border crossings.
NEXUS members who are lawful permanent residents of the U.S. will need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) when flying to or through Canadian airports, though NEXUS members who are American and/or Canadian citizens are exempt from that requirement, Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Esme Bailey tells Yahoo Canada News.
Some like King considers the move inconvenient and potentially risky.
“This increases my own security risk as now I’ll be forced to travel with both passports all the time,” King says. “This increases the percentage chance of loss, as well as the increased chance for thieves to use those lost passports for fraudulent means.”
At least 2.9 per cent of Canadians, or 944,700 people, hold multiple citizenships, according to the 2011 census. The most common country for multiple citizenships is the United States, followed by the United Kingdom, France and Poland.
The new policy on passport use only applies to entry into Canada by air and excludes land and sea arrivals.