I have an ETA-eligible passport and have recently obtained a work permit. Unlike most other visas it's an A4 document that is quite inconvenient to take with you on trips, since that's one more thing you can lose accidentally.

Is it mandatory that I take this document for re-entry to Canada? What happens if I don't?

  • As @dda mentioned, it is a required document, but you don't need to carry it in its perfect form. You can fold it into a passport size and staple it so you don't have to worry about it. Mar 20, 2018 at 5:57

3 Answers 3



A work permit is not a visa. It is the legal authorization for you to stay in Canada. However, according to the Government of Canada, you need an eTA or a visa, along with your work permit to enter Canada.

On a side note remember that a visa/eTA can expire while you are in Canada and it's okay as long as you are not planning to leave the country. You will need it only while reentering Canada. You will need a visa/eTA to enter Canada though. However, having a valid work permit is absolutely required for you to legally stay and work in Canada.

  • Good answer, but a small clarification: It's even okay for the visa to expire if you plan to leave the country; the important point is that someone in that situation will need a new visa before reentering Canada.
    – phoog
    Jan 8, 2018 at 14:36
  • Good answer. It's a really strange law considering everything is in the government database. Jan 8, 2018 at 14:51
  • 3
    @JonathanReez You assume that all the databases talk to each other, and do so fluently and regularly... you assume too much.
    – T.J.L.
    Jan 8, 2018 at 15:09
  • 1
    @JonathanReez When busy, border personnel may admit you without looking up your information, or only briefly doing so, on occasion, so hard copies of this information can be helpful to them. Remember that some ports into Canada are tiny little border crossings in the rural prairies, with limited facilities and few personnel. I used a crossing once (now closed) that averaged three crossings per day. Jan 8, 2018 at 22:59
  • @JimMacKenzie at such a border crossing, though, you would at least be free from the guilt of delaying everyone else.
    – phoog
    Mar 20, 2018 at 19:48

I've asked some colleagues who have had experience with re-entering Canada without the piece of paper and the answer is no, it's not mandatory. At the border you will (at worst) be sent to secondary screening where the immigration officer will look up your status. And occasionally they will simply let you in under the ETA without verifying the work status.

Update: Tried it myself this week - worked without any issues at the land border. The immigration officer checked the computer to see if my work permit is still valid and then let us through. Didn't even have to go to secondary screening.

Update #2: Over the past 10 months I've personally witnessed at least five colleagues who have forgotten their work permit, both driving and taking the bus - no one ever had any issues whatsoever. Not sure why CBSA can't just drop the requirement altogether.

  • That's a big occassionally. They just might not let you in. I wouldn't trust some colleagues over the official website but hey that's me. YMMV.
    – Dipen Shah
    Jan 9, 2018 at 14:49
  • @DipenShah see my update Jan 13, 2018 at 6:18
  • 1
    While this may have worked for you, this is actually ill-advised. Just because a single officer let you in doesn't mean it'll be the same. You are likely to be asked a lot of questions about why you left your papers or subject to secondary screening, which is a big waste of time. Mar 20, 2018 at 5:55
  • @UmurKontacı Most of the time it takes them about 30 seconds to look up your visa status in the database. I've talked to about a dozen people who traveled across the border without the work permit and none of them had any serious issues. This is practical first hand information. Mar 20, 2018 at 6:45
  • I've done more border crossings than most, and I can say that this is a terrible idea. It's unlikely that you'll be denied entry, but you can be asked more questions or send to secondary screening, which is going to take about 30-45 minutes to clear, at the minimum. Why do want to risk that when you can fold that piece of paper and staple to your passport? Mar 21, 2018 at 4:51

Also, I do not believe that once you’ve shown it to your school or employer, or lastly the bank; don’t carry it. If it gets lost, stolen, or damaged,I think it’s difficult to replace. Carry a copy till you get your provincial ID.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.