Is an eTA visa required for transit through Canada?

Find out if you need an eTA visa for a simple transit in Canada and what the procedure is for obtaining one in the shortest possible time.

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Canada transit visa

If you do not wish to visit Canada but your trip includes a stopover or transit through a Canadian airport, you will need a transit visa or eTA, as you would for a real stay in Canada. In this article, we suggest you find out how to apply for this authorisation and what you need to know.

eTA transit to Canada: Key points

  • eTA authorisation is required for transit or stopovers in Canada
  • The eTA now replaces the old transit visa for Canada
  • During the 5-year validity period of the eTA, you can make several transits or stopovers in Canada
  • The procedure and price of an eTA for transit through Canada are the same as for travel to that country.


Is an eTA required for a simple stopover or transit in Canada?

If you are planning a trip to a destination other than Canada in the near future, but need to make a stopover or transit through this country, it is important to know what official documents you will need.

As we have just seen, an eTA is mandatory for transit through Canada or a stopover at a Canadian airport, even if you do not leave the transit zone.

One might therefore wonder why it is necessary to have this precious sesame if you are not staying in the country. In the same way as for a stopover or transit in the United States, a stopover in Canada requires official authorisation to enter the country even if you are not going to discover the country.

Indeed, when a foreign aircraft lands at a Canadian airport, it must certify that its passengers have an eTA or transit visa.

You should therefore remember to apply for your eTA before your trip to avoid being denied boarding. It should be remembered, however, that in the past it was necessary to apply for a specific visa called a "transit visa" for a stopover or transit in Canada. But now, nationals of Visa Waiver countries can take advantage of a simple online eTA application to do so.

A stopover or transit in Canada will in fact necessarily respect the conditions of the maximum duration of stay of the eTA, which is 90 consecutive days, since the time spent on the ground is generally only a few hours.


How do I obtain an eTA for a stopover or transit in Canada?

If you wish to obtain an eTA for a stopover or transit in Canada, you will need to follow the same procedure as for a regular eTA.

The application will therefore be made online and through a traditional form in English or in the language of your choice. To fill in the form, you will need the number of the passport you will be travelling with and a bank card to pay the processing fee.

The information to be filled in on this form is simple and concerns your personal situation and identity as well as a series of questions on your state of health and your moral character. Finally, you will need to provide a valid email address to which your eTA will be sent if accepted.

Once your application has been validated, you will only have to wait an average of 72 hours to receive your reply by e-mail. The eTA will then be automatically and electronically attached to your passport and you will not need to print it.

Finally, you should know that once obtained, the eTA will be valid for 5 years and will allow you to make as many stays, transits or stopovers in Canada as you wish as long as the conditions are respected.

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Can the same eTA be used for a stopover, transit and stay in Canada?

If you are applying for an eTA for a simple stopover or transit in Canada, you may want to know whether the eTA will be valid for an eventual real stay in the country.

And this is indeed the case. Indeed, as the eTA is valid for 5 years from the date of issue, you can use it as many times as you wish during this period for a trip, a stay, a stopover or a transit in Canada. Of course, these stays must comply with the regulations of the Canadian government and the eTA system.

In particular, it is essential that the stay does not exceed 90 consecutive days or 3 months on Canadian territory. If you wish to stay longer, you must apply for a traditional visa. The purpose of these stays must be tourism, a visit to a relative or a business meeting. If you wish to work or study in Canada, you must apply for a traditional visa.

Finally, remember that your eTA is electronically linked to your passport and it is therefore also imperative that the passport you will use for future transits, stopovers or travels in Canada is the one whose number you mentioned when applying for your eTA.


When should I apply for an eTA for a transit to Canada?

So now you know that you need an eTA for a stopover in Canada. But when is it advisable to apply for it? We have just seen above that the eTA authorisation can be obtained in less than 72 hours after your online application. In fact, in reality, this time frame is often much shorter and you may receive the confirmation email for your eTA only a few hours after it has been submitted. You can therefore theoretically apply for an eTA only a few days before your departure date. However, it is advisable to apply well in advance to ensure that you receive it in time. This will allow you to make a new application in case your first application was refused due to an error in filling in the form. This new application can be made as early as 10 days after the date of refusal.  In the event of a new refusal, you can always apply for a classic visa.

On the other hand, as the eTA is valid for a total of 5 years and allows you to travel or stop over in the country during this period, there is no need to apply at the last moment or to apply too early.

Ideally, you should apply a few weeks before your departure at the most.


What to do if your eTA is about to expire and you have a stopover in Canada and back?

There is also a special case that may present some difficulty for travellers who stop over in Canada with an eTA. Let's imagine that the validity of your eTA expires between the time of the first stopover and the time of the return stopover.

As a general rule, for a stay in Canada, the eTA only needs to be valid at the time of entry into the country and does not need to cover the whole trip. But for a stopover or transit, things are different and it is necessary for your eTA to be valid both at the time of your first stopover on the way out and at the time of your second stopover on the way back.

Indeed, to better understand this specificity, it is essential to understand that each stopover or transit is equivalent to a stay in Canada for the Canadian authorities. Thus, when a plane makes a stopover in one of the country's airports and then leaves for another destination, whether or not you change aircraft, this is equivalent to entering and leaving the country. The date of exit from the territory will therefore be considered as the end of your stay and your second stopover on the way back as a second entry into Canada.

Therefore, if your eTA was valid at the time of your outbound stopover, it must also be valid at the time of your return stopover. What if the eTA expires during your stay?

The first option is to use your eTA for your outward journey and apply for another eTA during your journey and for your return journey. But here you will need to ensure that you have the time to do this and that you have an internet connection to do so. Also, there is no guarantee that you will get this new authorisation, which could be a problem on your return journey and prevent you from returning home unless you find a flight ticket that does not go through Canada.

But the best solution is to go ahead and apply for a new eTA even if your current eTA is still valid. This is because the new eTA will replace the old one and will again be valid for a period of 5 years, so it could cover both your outward stopover or transit and your return stopover or transit. But again, just because you got your eTA on your initial application does not mean you will also get the second one. It is therefore advisable to make sure you have enough time to secure your stay. If your personal situation has changed, it is possible that you no longer meet the eTA eligibility criteria.

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As a web writer and globetrotter with a passion for travel and tourism, I have acquired in-depth knowledge of the procedures that are essential for travellers. I help travellers to complete all the formalities required for a successful trip, particularly when it comes to obtaining a visa online. With several years' experience in this field, I'd like to offer you some valuable advice to help you discover the world with complete peace of mind.


Frequently asked questions

What documents are required for a stopover in Canada?

To make a trip that includes a transit or stopover in Canada, you will need various official documents. Of course, you will need a valid passport, but you will also need an authorization to stay in Canada such as an eTA or a transit visa. Both of these documents will of course be linked to your passport and will have to be presented when you board your flight to this country or another destination with a stopover in the country.

How to apply for a transit visa for Canada?

If you do not meet the criteria for an eTA application for Canada, you can also transit or stop over in Canada on a specific visa. This is the transit visa, which you can also apply for online using a specific form. All you have to do is indicate that you want a transit immigration visa and not a tourist visa, which would take more time.

Where to apply for a transit eTA for Canada?

An eTA for a transit or stopover in Canada can be obtained online through the official website or through the website of a service provider such as the one we recommend on this website. There you will find a form that you can fill out in a few minutes and an online payment system for the processing fee.