Canada is home to a wide array of diverse natural landscapes and bustling cities that attract millions of tourists each year.

Some of these tourists enter Canada as part of a guided tour group or, at the very least, use a tour bus as their mode of transportation. While these tourists can enter as visitors, what of the tour guides and the bus drivers that accompany them?

Tour bus driving through the Rocky Mountains near Jasper, Alberta, Canada

These individuals will be performing work in Canada and, as such, issues relating to Canadian work authorization may arise at the border.  As far as this is concerned, certain factors can be used to assess whether or not it is necessary for the individual in question to obtain a Canadian work permit.

The first factor involves the nature of the service to be provided in Canada. If the service entails the need for the guide to be actively involved in the tour, either through the provision of information, or participation in the activities that are featured on the tour, then it is most likely that a Canadian work permit will be required. If, on the other hand, the tour guide is acting more in the capacity of a chaperone or as a figure of authority to lead the group, then a work permit is probably not necessary. In this scenario, when the guide’s role is limited to handling unforeseen incidents and ensuring the smooth progression of the tour, they can most likely receive consideration as business visitors. Generally speaking, the more dynamic and interactive the role of the tour guide in question might be, the higher the likelihood that he or she will have to go about the process of obtaining a Canadian work permit.

The second factor pertains to both the point of origin and point of termination for the tour or tour bus concerned. If the trip begins in Canada and concludes in Canada, a work permit will most likely be required. Because the individual is working exclusively in Canada, it will be necessary for him or her to obtain Canadian work authorization. This will most likely not be the case if the beginning or conclusion of the trip takes place outside Canada, for example in the U.S. This criteria is not determinative, however, as there can be interpretations of this general rule as it concerns the point of origin and point of termination.

For this reason, combined with the subjective nature of the assessment as it concerns the tour guide’s involvement in the tour, it is wise for any tour guide or tour bus driver to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before embarking on a trip that takes place at least partially in Canada.

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