Canada Is Phasing Out Paper Immigration Forms

Filed Under: Travel

If you travel internationally with any frequency, you’re probably used to filling out immigration cards all the time. They’re typically handed out before landing. Some forms take just a minute to fill out, while others can be quite lengthy.

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One of the great things about having Global Entry is that you no longer have to fill out immigration forms when arriving in the U.S. Instead you just scan your passport at a Global Entry kiosk, answer a few questions, and you’re sent on your way.

Well, it looks like Canada is slowly adapting as well. Soon Canada will be eliminating immigration forms for passengers arriving by air. This coincides with Canada rolling out primary inspection kiosks, where you can instead answer basic questions on a kiosk upon arrival. Ottawa Airport is the first airport to get these kiosks as of today, while the kiosks will be rolled out at other airports over the coming months.

These immigration forms will be eliminated progressively — if the airport has introduced these kiosks, expect not to be offered an immigration form on the plane.

Here’s part of the announcement posted on the CBSA website regarding these changes:

The new kiosks will allow travellers to verify their travel documents, complete an on-screen declaration, and confirm their identity using facial authentication (involving only a one-to-one photo comparison at the kiosk with the traveller’s passport). Those looking to save more time can complete their declaration in advance using the CanBorder – eDeclaration mobile app, which will give them a quick response (QR) code to scan at a kiosk upon arrival.

Primary Inspection Kiosks will be rolled out at Canada’s major airports this year, strengthening border security and simplifying the border experience. By moving towards digital declarations, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is capitalizing upon the experience and successes of other countries that have adopted automated border technology.

  • Primary Inspection Kiosks will eventually replace the Automated Border Clearance program, streamline services for travellers arriving in Canada by air, and allow the CBSA to better manage increasing traveller volumes at airports.
  • The on-screen declaration and mobile app will allow the CBSA to phase out the standard distribution of declaration cards on board aircraft, reducing paper consumption and allowing for cost savings through digital service delivery.

Here’s a video about the new process:

As you can see, you’ll be asked to scan your passport, take a photo, and complete an on-screen declaration. Alternatively you can download the CanBorder eDeclaration App so you can complete it in advance, and then you’ll just have to scan the barcode at a kiosk.

This is a great way to save paper, as well as the hassle of having to fill out a paper form.

(Tip of the hat to Brad at Travel Codex)

  1. Many international travelers are still required to complete an eTA for Canada, regardless. Just saying 🙂

  2. Nexus members can still bypass this easier paperless eDeclaration process. As Ben said, Nexus/GE members never had to fill out the paper form anyway.

  3. Will the kiosks still grill people ~25-40 years old, accusing them of wanting to move there to steal their jobs & use their free healthcare like the CBSA agents do?

  4. Great news, I live in Toronto and I’ve hated filling out those forms forever, especially the old ones that asked me if I was transporting any live bees. They still want to know if I have been or will be visiting a farm in the past/future 14 days – must be a holdover from the mad cow days. Moreover, the forms are too big to fit in the pocket of a dress shirt and folding is strictly forbidden by the bureacracy – not a good thing for business travelers. BTW, all travelers leaving Toronto for the US don’t fill out forms anymore, you go to a kiosk just like Global Entry or Nexus passengers.

  5. Entering the US you don’t have to fill out any forms anymore, that’s not just Global Entry, but applies to every passenger not needing a visa and who has visted the US previously in the last 5 years. Just go for the kiosk and done in 3 minutes!

  6. So with the inclusion of the automated kiosks in major US entry airports (like SFO, etc), why do they still pass out (on the airplane) and tell us to fill out the paper customs declaration? It seems that you still have to fill it out and turn it in even though you give the printed out kiosk form and passport to the CBP officer. Cuts wondering….

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