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Canada Temporary Entry: Business Persons - NAFTA - Details

Information on temporary entry and travel to Canada. Also includes taxes and standards guides.

Canada Temporary Entry: Business Persons - NAFTA - Details

Postby bridgat » Mon Nov 17, 2008 12:21 pm

This report summarizes the provisions under NAFTA that allow for the temporary entry of people from the United States and Mexico into Canada. The report discusses the different categories of allowable temporary entry, as well as situations where temporary entry would not be granted. There are four categories of temporary entry, each of which is explained below: business visitors, professionals, intra-company transferees, and traders and investors. For most day-to-day business, the category of business visitor applies. The information provided in this report applies only to U.S. and Mexican Citizens seeking temporary (not permanent) entry into Canada.

For full-details on any of the information presented here, either consult the document "Temporary Entry to Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement - A guide for American and Mexican business persons" (published by Citizenship and Immigration Canada) or visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada's website, For detailed questions, contact the Canadian Embassy or one of the Canadian Consulates providing NAFTA services (contact information is listed at the end of the report).

Note: Much of the language used in this report is taken from NAFTA documents in order to avoid misinterpretation of definitions and requirements. There are some exceptions to the provisions listed here and the final decision on whether to allow entry into Canada lies with the Immigration Officer at the border. U.S. business travelers are encouraged to contact a Canadian Embassy or Consulate before departing for Canada if they have any questions about temporary entry.


There are a few general requirements that U.S. business travelers to Canada should be aware of:

· U.S. citizens are not required to have a passport for travel to Canada. However, proof of citizenship and photo identification is necessary. This requirement can be filled by presenting a Birth Certificate and a Driver's License, for example.
· U.S. citizens with a criminal record may not be allowed to enter Canada.

The remainder of this document sets out additional required documentation and criteria that apply to the various categories of temporary entry into Canada under NAFTA.


Definition of Business Visitor

According to NAFTA, a business visitor is:

"a business person seeking to engage in a business activity set out in Appendix 1603.A.1, without requiring that person to obtain an employment authorization, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry...."

This does not include people who intend to enter the Canadian labor market (i.e. to work for a Canadian employer or under contract to a Canadian company). The business activities set out in Appendix 1603.A.1, include the following groups of people:

Research and design: Technical, scientific and statistical researchers, conducting independent research or research for a company located in the United States or Mexico.

Growth, Manufacture and Production: Harvester owner supervising (not hands-on work) a harvesting crew admitted which is authorized to work in Canada. Purchasing and production management personnel conducting commercial transactions for a U.S. or Mexican company.

Marketing: Market researchers and analysts conducting independent research or analysis or research or analysis for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Trade fair and promotional personnel attending a trade convention (this does not include the organizer of the trade fair, unless there are no Canadian exhibitors at the trade convention).

Sales: Sales representatives and agents taking orders or negotiating contracts for goods or services for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico, but not delivering goods or providing services. These sales representatives or agents may bring into Canada the necessary number of samples required for display ( Buyers purchasing for an enterprise located in the U.S. or Mexico).

Distribution: American and Mexican transportation operators who are either transporting goods or passengers to Canada from the United States or Mexico or loading and transporting goods or passengers in Canada to be taken to the United States or Mexico (without any unloading in Canada). A transportation operator is defined as "a natural person, other than a tour bus operator, including relief personnel accompanying of following to join, necessary for the operation of a vehicle for the duration of a trip."

After-sales Service: Installers, repair and maintenance personnel, and supervisors, possessing specialized knowledge essential to a seller's contractual obligation, performing services or training workers to perform services, pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased from an enterprise located outside Canada during the life of the warranty of service agreement. If the installation, warranty or service work has been contracted out to a third party, this must be clearly indicated on the sales agreement in order for an employee of the third party firm to be admitted as a business visitor.

General Service: Professionals engaging in a business activity at a professional level in a profession set out in the table below in the section on professionals. Management and supervisory personnel engaging in a commercial transaction for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Financial services personnel (insurers, bankers or investment brokers) engaging in commercial transactions for an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico. Public relations and advertising personnel consulting with clients or colleagues, or attending or participating in conventions. Tourism personnel (tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators) attending or participating in conventions or conducting a your that began in the United States or Mexico. Tour bus operators entering Canada with a bus tour that began in and will return to the United States or Mexico or to meet a group of passengers for a bus tour that will end and the predominant portion of which will take place in the United States or Mexico or with a group of passengers that are to be unloaded in Canada and either returning with no passengers or reloading with the group for transportation to the United States or Mexico. Translators or interpreters performing services as employees of an enterprise located in the United States or Mexico.

Requirements for Business Visitors

Business visitors, in addition to meeting the above criteria, must also be able to do the following:

· Provide proof (e.g. a letter from your employer) that you plan to engage in an approved business activity (those set out in Appendix 1603.A.1 of the NAFTA and listed above) and describing the purpose of your entry into Canada.

· Provide proof (e.g. a letter from your employer) explaining that the proposed business activity is international in scope and that you are not planning on entering the Canadian labor market, by showing that (i) the primary source of remuneration for the proposed business activity is outside Canada; and (ii) that your principal place of business and the actual place of accrual of profits, at least predominantly, remain outside Canada.

· If you are a "professional" (see table below in section on professionals) you may qualify for entry under the general service provision of the business visitor category. You must be able to prove that you have the minimum education requirements listed in the table for your profession (a letter from your employer or a copy of your professional license, certification, accreditation or registration suffices).

· If you are seeking entry as an after-sales service person, you must provide copies of the original sales, warranty, or service agreement, and any extension to this agreement.

Length of Stay

Business visitors are generally given permission to stay in Canada for a period of up to six months. For after-sales service personnel the duration of the stay granted is generally equivalent to the amount of time required to carry out the service obligation.

Frequent Travelers

Business visitors that travel to Canada frequently over an extended period of time and always enter for the same reason can request, at the Canadian point of entry, that a visitor record be issued to them. This document will facilitate subsequent visits to Canada. There is no cost to obtain a visitor record, but whether or not to issue one is at the discretion of the immigration officer.


According to NAFTA, a professional is:

"...a business person seeking to engage in a business activity at a professional level in a profession set out in Appendix 1603.D.1, if the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry..."

The arrangement to provide professional services can be as a result of an employee-employer relationship with a Canadian enterprise, a signed contract between the business person and a Canadian enterprise, or a signed contract between the business person's American or Mexican employer and a Canadian enterprise. Since this report is written for U.S. companies, the last option will be assumed in explaining the requirements below.

Under NAFTA, American and Mexican professionals are not subject to Canada's job validation process, whereby the Canadian employer must prove that there are no willing and qualified Canadians to fill the position. However, professionals do require an employment authorization from the Canadian government. The individual must also provide proof of the minimum education requirements or alternative credentials for their profession as set out in NAFTA [Contact Annie Crombie at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa for details - contact information is at beginning of report]. For professions not listed below, an employment authorization will be granted only if the Canadian employer is able to successfully show that there are no willing and qualified Canadians that can do the work required.

The professions set out in Appendix 1603.D.1 are as follows:

General: Accountant, Architect, Computer Systems Analyst, Disaster Relief Insurance Claims Adjuster, Economist, Engineer, Forester, Graphic Designer, Hotel Manager, Industrial Designer, Interior Designer, Land Surveyor, Landscape Architect, Lawyer, Librarian, Management Consultant, Mathematician (including Statistician), Range Manager/Range Conservationalist, Research Assistant (working in a post-secondary institution), Scientific Technician/Technologist, Social Worker, Sylviculturist, Technical Publications Writer, Urban Planner (including Geographer), Vocational Counselor.

Medical/Allied Profession: Dentist, Dietitian, Medical Technologist, Nutritionist, Occupational Therapist, Pharmacist, Physician (teaching or research only), Physiotherapist/Physical Therapist, Psychologist, Recreational Therapist, Registered Nurse, Veterinarian.

Scientist: Agriculturalist (including Agronomist), Animal Breeder, Animal Scientist, Apiculturist, Astronomer, Biochemist, Biologist, Chemist, Dairy Scientist, Entomologist, Epidemiologist, Geneticist, Geologist, Geochemist, Geophysicist (including Oceanographer), Horticulturalist, Meteorologist, Pharmacologist, Physicist, Plant Breeder, Poultry Scientist, Soil Scientist, Zoologist.

Teacher: Teachers at post-secondary level institutions including College, Seminary, and University.

Requirements for Professionals

Professionals are eligible for an employment authorization under NAFTA if they have pre-arranged employment with a Canadian enterprise in one of the above listed professions and are qualified in that profession. The following information must be provided:

· the proposed employer(s) in Canada

· the profession (including position title and duties) under which you are seeking entry

· the purpose of entry

· the anticipated length of stay

· the educational qualifications or alternative credentials required to perform the job

· the arrangements for remuneration of services to be rendered

Generally, a letter from the U.S. employer, a letter from the contracting Canadian enterprise, and a copy of all relevant educational qualifications should be presented.

Length of Stay

The length of stay for professionals is not limited. However, the situation must continue to be "temporary", i.e. the individual should plan to return to the U.S. and not be planning on remaining in Canada indefinitely. Professionals that qualify for temporary entry under NAFTA will be issued an employment authorization with a maximum duration of one year. Extensions may then be granted in one year increments.


According to NAFTA, an intra-company transferee is:

"...a business person employed by an enterprise who seeks to render services to that enterprise or a subsidiary or affiliate thereof, in a capacity that is managerial, executive or involves specialized knowledge, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry."

As with professionals, intra-company transferees are not subject to Canada's job validation process, but they will be issued an employment authorization.

Requirements for Intra-Company Transferees

In order to receive an employment authorization as an intra-company transferee, you must provide a letter from the American or Mexican employer that includes the following information:

Confirmation that you have been engaged in your current employment for at least one year within the three-year period immediately preceding the date of your application for admission.

A detailed outline of the purpose and position for which entry to Canada is being sought.

A detailed outline of your current job description, position title and place in the organizational structure of the company, confirming that you have been performing similar work for your American or Mexican employer.

In the case of a person with specialized knowledge (means special knowledge of the Canadian enterprise's product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization's processes and procedures), evidence that you possess such knowledge and that such knowledge is necessary for the proposed employment in Canada.

The duration of the temporary assignment.
A clear and comprehensive description of the relationship between the company in Canada and your employer in the United States or Mexico.

Length of Stay

An intra-company transferee employed in an executive or managerial capacity may remain in Canada for up to 7 years. An intra-company transferee with specialized knowledge may remain for up to 5 years. Individuals who qualify as intra-company transferees will be granted an employment authorization with a maximum duration of one year, which may be extended for increments of two years.


According to NAFTA, a trader and investor is:

"a business person seeking to:

a) carry on substantial trade in goods or services principally between the territory of the Party of which the business person is a citizen (i.e. the United States or Mexico) and the territory of the Party into which entry is sought (i.e. Canada), or

b) establish, develop, administer or provide advice or key technical services to the operation of an investment to which the business person or the business person's enterprise has committed, or is in the process of committing, a substantial amount of capital,

in a capacity that is supervisory, executive or involves essential skills, provided that the business person otherwise complies with existing immigration measures applicable to temporary entry."

Requirements for Traders and Investors

To apply for temporary entry as a Trader or Investor the "Application for Trader or Investor Status (IMM5321)" must be completed. This form, which can be obtained at any Canadian Embassy or Consulate or any Canadian Immigration Office, will ask you to provide details of your trading activities or your current or planned investment. You will be required to prove that your company has American or Mexican "nationality" (this can be established by providing a letter from a corporate secretary or company lawyer attesting to ownership of the firm).

To qualify for trader status, the following criteria must be met:

· The enterprise in Canada has American or Mexican "nationality."

· Your predominant activity in Canada will be to carry on substantial trade in goods or services, principally between Canada and the United States or Mexico.

· The capacity in which you will be performing in Canada is executive or supervisory in nature, or involves essential skills.

Also, if you are working for a person who already has trader status in Canada, you may qualify for trader status as well.

To qualify for investor status, the following criteria must be met:

· The enterprise in Canada has American or Mexican "nationality".

· You are seeking temporary entry solely to develop and direct the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested, or are actively in the process of investing, a substantial amount of capital.

Also, if you are working for someone who already maintains investor status in Canada and you are discharging an executive or supervisory function, or you possess skills essential to the firm's operations in Canada, you may qualify for investor status.

Length of Stay

If your application is approved, you will be issued an employment authorization for one year. Extensions may be granted for two years at a time. There is no time limit on how long you can remain in Canada as a trader or investor. As long as the requirements continue to be met, your status may continue to be extended for as long as is necessary.


The governments of the NAFTA countries have recognized that it is necessary to provide more liberal movement of people across the borders within North America in order for the benefits of NAFTA to be realized. In order to facilitate this, these provisions on the temporary entry of people were developed. However, it does not mean that there are no controls and it is essential that all U.S. business persons traveling to Canada be able to provide documentation describing the nature and purpose of their trip to Canada in order to avoid difficulties at the border.


Canadian Embassy
501 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 202-682-1740
Fax: 202-682-7689

Canadian Consulate General
One Marine Midland Center
Suite 3000
Buffalo, NY 14203-2884
Tel: 716-858-9500
Fax: 716-852-2477

Canadian Consulate General
600 Renaissance Center
Suite 1100
Detroit, MI 48243-1798
Tel: 313-567-2340
Fax: 313-567-2125

Canadian Consulate General
300 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Tel: 213-596-1700
Fax: 213-625-7154

Canadian Consulate General
1251 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1175
Tel: 212-596-1700
Fax: 212-596-1791

Canadian Consulate General
412 Plaza 600
Sixth and Stewart
Seattle, WA 98101-12860
Tel: 206-443-1777
Fax: 206-443-1782
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