US citizen traveling to Canada: is this considered a business trip?

Obviously for reasons that will quickly become obvious, Im going to be very vague:

Im traveling to Canada later this year to attend a meeting being held by a non-profit organization funded by several competing companies throughout the US and Canada, with there goal of this organization being to promote the industry’s goods and services as well as provide training, and education to the market about its applications.

Im on a voting committee. Other than that I won’t be a speaker, vendor, or plan to conduct any business in any other way. I may attend a presentation or two.

Do I need a Visa or special work permit or other papers other than my passport to get into Canada for this? If not, how should I explain my visit to Canadian border agents without turning it into a big hassle to get in?

Or, am I better off just lying and saying Im going a fishing trip or hunting trip or my buddy bachelor party etc etc?

I don’t think you need a visa. I used to work for a non-profit in the US, on a temporary employment visa and then as a permanent resident (green-card holder), and several times went to conferences in Canada connected with my work. I didn’t need a visa to go to Canada, and neither did the many US-citizen colleagues working with me going to the same conferences. The only time that I had an problem was when I was in adjustment of status from a visa to a green card, and I had an advance parole to leave the US. Returning to the US by car at Buffalo (one of the busiest border crossings), I was held up for about an hour: apparently, the immigration people there weren’t used to such an odd situation as mine. But, as a US citizen, you won’t have that problem. Just tell the Canadian immigration people that you’re going to a conference or to a committee meeting.

This earlier thread basically confirms what I said.

most countries (actually all I have ever been to) allow you to travel for the purpose of attending a conference, tradeshow or meetings on a standard tourist visa or visa / waiver. The idea is that while you might technically be making money for your company from the trip you are not employed or paid by any company in the country you are visiting.

I (Australian) attend the NAB tradeshow in Las Vegas every year, my company often has a stand there. I tell US immigration I am going to a tradeshow for my company, standard visa waiver is allowed. Never once had a problem. Also been to trade shows in Netherlands, UK, Japan, Singapore, India again never had a problem on either a tourist visa or visa waiver.

If you’re a US citizen, you don’t need an ETA or visa regardless of your reason for visiting, unless the conference is more than six months long.

The big concern of the Canadian immigration folks will be if you will be working in Canada in any way. They have very tight controls on work permits. I was travelling to Canada frequently a few years ago to implement a large software system, and got hung up almost every time as they tried to determine if this work was a sale of a product (OK) or labor (permit needed). Each time I’d bring some new documentation that the last agent requested – -- only to be asked for something else by the new guy.

It sounds like you aren’t working in Canada, so just be honest about your visit. You won’t have a problem.

ETA: I’m curious - it looks like you already got a decent answer to the same question a month ago. Is there a reason you doubt the responses there?

There are tens of thousands of Americans who arrive in Canada every week this time of year. Maybe more.

I’m not sure what your concern is or why you think your circumstances are special in any way. Sorry, little snowflake.

Moderator Note

TallTrees, if you can’t contribute constructively to a thread there’s no need for you to post at all. I also remind you that insults are not permitted in General Questions. No warning issued, but don’t do this again.

General Questions Moderator

In the early to mid 2000’s I went to Canada several times to install automation controls. I was asked something like “Why can’t a Canadian be doing this work?” They always let me in and I never had a work permit. I did have a signed letter from my company stating what I was doing.

Ha! I got that a few times (early 2010’s). I was a trainer and would have to travel to work with Canadian customers using our products.

I think I once told one guy I lived in the SF Bay Area and Silicon Valley and that Canada didn’t have the market to justify my company employing a Canadian.

I don’t think I ever needed a letter, though.

Yea, I basically told them that WE built the machine and are the only qualified people to install it without weeks or more of training.

I will third all this.

I used to go quite often for work, and I would always say “business” to the reason for my trip. When asked what I was doing it was “meetings.” Finally, if they asked the industry it was “pharmaceuticals.” Never had ANY problem.

One of my reports once said “work.” Big mistake. She and the three other of my reports were detained for a couple of hours to get to the bottom of it. I received a call from Canadian immigration(?) asking what they were doing. Business. Meetings. Pharmaceuticals. They were allowed through.

But after that they got stopped every. single. time. They were all flagged in the system.

tl;dr: You won’t have any problem as long as you avoid the magic words.

I learned that was the least hassle reply.

Color me embarrassed. I didn’t think the previous OP posted properly as I was having issues with my network or the site, and never realized or bothered to check to see that it did. Mods please be alerted if you want to delete this or the other thread on the same subject. :smack:

I have traveled to Canada for sales meetings and such and for those kinds of trips you do not need a work permit and you typically get through the border just as easily as those on personal travel. The key is the business travel does not involve providing services to any Canadian entity for $$.

I have traveled to Canada for paid work and for that, I needed to bring copy of contract and my CV to buy work permit under one of the NAFTA exempt categories.

Recently they changed the procedure and you have to go to a government website and enroll, then apply for work permit and pay for it in advance. This was a surprise on my last trip in June and I had to get on laptop in waiting area and apply/register/pay and I think the border staff were bending the rules to let me do the work permit immediately. When I had proof I had paid the $230 CD registration fee and the $155 work permit fee, they printed one locally and let me enter.