eTA for Canada transit
Are you flying to Canada for an onward journey to another destination? For an airport transit or onward journey through Canada, travellers always need to hold a valid Canada eTA visa or other Canada visa. This page will fill you in on the details of transiting in Canada, and what kind of travel authorization goes with which specific transit situation.
Transit in Canada
Nearly all travellers arriving in Canada by plane need to have a valid Canada electronic travel authorization. This can be a visa, or what is more specifically referred to as an electronic travel authorisation, the Canada eTA. The only exception to this applies to travellers with a US or Canadian passport, or a Canadian permanent residence permit.
Do I need a visa for Canada from UK or is the Canada eTA also valid for a transit?
Travellers who hold a UK, Swiss, or EU country’s passport, can apply for the eTA for a trip to Canada. This does require them to meet all eTA requirements. Including for a transit in Canada. Travellers with a passport issued by a country that is visa-exempt for Canada therefore, do not need to apply for a visa.
Travellers who are not eligible for the eTA on the other hand, need to apply for a visitor visa or transit visa Canada. Which visa the traveller needs to apply for, depends on their nationality and the duration of stay in Canada. Travellers who are eligible for the eTA are advised to apply for this travel authorisation even in the event of an airport transit. This is because this travel authorisation can be easily applied for online, is usually issued within a number of days already, and because the Canada eTA price is lower than that of any of the visas for Canada.
eTA Canada application for a transit
Whether your eTA Canada application is intended for a transit or a different travel purpose, the application procedure remains the same. When filling in the online application form, you can select your travel purpose. If you apply for an eTA to transit, you can still use this travel authorization for further tourist or business travel to Canada. This is because the eTA is valid for 5 years and can be used for multiple journeys. For any of your next trips to Canada after your initial transit travel, you do not need to declare a different travel purpose as long as this purpose of travel is eTA compliant. Travellers eligible for the electronic travel authorisation Canada only need to apply for this travel permit for a flight to the country. For overland travel, or travel to Canada by ship, no eTA is needed. However, travellers with such an itinerary still need to meet the same eligibility requirements for visa-free travel, as when they would need the Canada eTA.
Transit visa Canada or visitor visa?
Travellers who do not meet the eTA requirements, or who have the nationality of a country covered by Canada’s visa policy, need a valid visa for their Canadian transit. Read on to find out more about this.
Canada visitor visa
If you plan to leave the Canada airport during your transit, and you need to check-in and go through customs control again, you will need the visitor visa Canada. Even in the case the onward flight is an international flight and you will spend less than 48 hours in transit following your arrival in the country. The Canada visitor visa always needs to be applied for when the traveller crosses one of the country’s land or sea borders. This means that whether crossing the border by car, bus, train or cruise ship, a visitor visa is always required, when not meeting the requirements for travel without a Canada visa.
Transit visa Canada
A transit visa is a visa that is at times issued for travellers who are only in Canada for a brief transit. All transit visas therefore only have a limited validity duration. The visa is only issued if the traveller cannot apply for an eTA and does not already have a visitor visa. You can only apply for this visa when transitting at a Canada airport for an international onward flight or when leaving the aircraft, but not the airport. In these cases, the transit may not take longer than 48 hours. In other situations, a visitor visa is needed. During the application procedure, it is checked whether the visa will be valid for just one, or two separate transits in Canada.
Airport transit without Canada visa or electronic travel authorisation
There is only one exception to the rule that travellers do not need either a Canada eTA or a visa in the event of an stopover in the country. This exemption applies to travellers who travel via Canada to USA or from the US to Canada when there is only a transit for an onward flight in order to refuel the aircraft. The exception for such a transit however, requires the passengers to stay aboard the aircraft during this stopover. Although there is, in this case, an airport transit in Canada, it is not a transit for transfer to another flight. Please keep in mind that therefore travellers who travel to the United States this way, already need to hold a valid ESTA or US visa before they board the initial flight.