This year’s BILT NA is in North America, but not the USA. It’s in Toronto. Toronto is in Canada. If you’re from a country that’s not Canada and you want to go to Canada, you’re going to need a passport.
- If you don’t have a passport, now is a good time to apply for your passport. Don’t wait till that last minute and expect a bureaucrat to rush on your behalf (unless you’re prepared to pay more money – there are expediting services).
- If you have a valid passport, now is a good time to check the date to make sure it’s valid through the conference – and then some. Many countries require your passport to be valid for months beyond your intended stay.
Getting a passport isn’t hard – but the process may take 6-8 weeks (unless you pay extra to have it processed in 2-3 weeks). And the pictures have to be just right. And the paperwork has to be just right. Bureaucrats that don’t have a check box they can check tend to get frustrated and will mail the whole submission back to you with instructions to try again.
Very special instructions: Canada is a very happy place where they will smile at you at customs and tell you you can’t come in. You will not be allowed in if you tell them you’re working and don’t have a work permit. But if you’re coming to Toronto to attend a conference, isn’t that business which means you’re working? No.
When you fill out your paperwork to enter Canada, you have a few options:
If you’re there on business (which is likely if you’re attending BILT NA) you’re not working. You’re attending a conference or a meeting.
There’s a big difference.
- Tell Customs you’re working: Probably not getting in
- Tell Customs you’re attending a conference or meetings: Getting in.
When the BILT NA Committee went to Toronto, some of the committee had different experiences with Canadian Customs. I didn’t have any issues, but another committee member (from Australia) was asked if she had funds to support herself while she was in Canada. Nice /s.
So get your paperwork in order now. It can take 8 weeks – 2 months – to get your passport. And the conference is a little more than 4 months away!
If you’re a US citizen and not a valid passport holder head over here to get started: