An eTA for transiting through Canada

Transiting through Canada with an eTA

Are you flying to Canada for a layover on your way to a different destination? Most travellers need to hold a valid eTA or visa for a transit or transfer in Canada. On this page, you can find information about transiting in Canada and the necessary travel authorisation.

A layover in Canada

Almost all travellers who arrive in Canada by plane must hold a valid travel authorisation. This may be a visa or an eTA Canada. Travellers with an American or Canadian passport and permanent residents of Canada form the only exception to this rule.

Do I need a visa or an eTA for my transit?

British and Irish nationals, as well as nationals of Switzerland and any country within the European Union, may apply for an eTA for their trip to Canada if they fulfil all the requirements. This also applies to a transit in Canada. Thus, travellers who hold a passport from any visa-exempted country do not need to apply for a visa for a transit in Canada.

Travellers who do not fulfil the requirements of an eTA, on the other hand, need to apply for a visitor or transit visa. The nationality of the traveller and the length of their stay in Canada determines which visa is required. An eTA application can be submitted online for a lower cost than a visa application, and the eTA is issued within a few days. Thus, transit passengers who fulfil the requirements of the eTA are advised to make use of this travel authorisation.

Apply for an eTA for an airport transit

To apply for an eTA, you always have to follow the same procedure, regardless of whether it is used for a transit or another travel purpose. You can choose the purpose of your travel in the application form. If you apply for an eTA for transiting in Canada, you will still be able to use it for a holiday or business trip to Canada at a later stage. The eTA is valid for 5 years and allows for multiple trips to Canada. After using the eTA for a transit, you do not have to inform anyone about the purpose of a possible second trip to Canada, as long as the second trip also fulfils the eTA requirements. Eligible travellers only have to apply for an eTA if they enter Canada by airplane. Travellers entering Canada by land or sea do not need an eTA, but they must still have to fulfil the same requirements that apply to travelling with an eTA.

Airport in Canada

Transit or visitor visa?

Travellers who do not fulfil the eTA requirements or who are not eligible for visa-free travel due to their nationality need to hold a valid visa for transiting through Canada. Read on for more information.

Visitor visa

If you want to leave the airport during your transfer to another international flight, you will need to check-in again and pass through security. In this case, you need a visitor visa, even if you have an international flight and you stay less than 48 hours in Canada. A visitor visa is also required if you enter Canada with any other mode of transport. Thus, if you cross the Canadian border by car, bus or train, or if you arrive by boat or on board of a cruise ship, you will need a visitor visa.

Transit visa

A transit visa is intended for travellers who enter Canada for a short stopover only. Transit visas have a very limited validity period. This visa is only issued to travellers who are not eligible for an eTA and do not hold a visitor visa. You can apply for this visa only if your plane lands at a Canadian airport and you take the same plane to your final destination, or if you transfer from one flight to another, but do not leave the airport in Canada. The transit may take up to 48 hours. Otherwise, a visitor visa is mandatory. While applying for the visa, it will be decided whether the visa is valid for one or two transits.

Visa-free layover for refuelling

There is only one case in which travellers can transit through Canada without an eTA or a visa. This exception applies to travellers who travel to the United States of America through Canada and land in Canada just to refuel the airplane. In this case, travellers are not allowed to leave the airplane during the stopover in Canada and cannot therefore transfer to another flight. Please keep in mind that you need a valid ESTA or US visa if you intend to board a plane to the USA.