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Canada's international airports typically do not allow direct airside transit (i.e., facilities for arriving international passengers to transfer to another international flight without being inspected by Canadian immigration authorities). This may make a layover at a Canadian airport time-consuming and expensive for citizens of certain countries. This guide is intended to give workarounds for various trips without touching Canadian (or US) airspace.


To avoid duplications and because almost all travellers wishing to avoid Canada will also wish to avoid the US, this article does not deal with flights entering US airspace or having layovers there

Canada requires most visitors — even those only transiting through an airport — to either have a valid visa or, in the case of citizens of a select few countries and only for certain types of stay, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). While the eTA is relatively easy to obtain for qualifying citizens (which—unlike the US equivalent ESTA includes all EU member states), it does cost $7 and will be denied to people with a criminal record. And as even crimes which may be viewed as lesser infractions elsewhere — such as a drunk driving conviction — are taken quite seriously under Canadian law, this excludes no small number of travelers. U.S. citizens and travellers coming to Canada with a visa are exempt from the eTA.

Transit without visa[edit]

As of 2018, citizens of a few countries who otherwise would require a visa for Canada are allowed visa-free transit via the Vancouver International Airport (YVR IATA), Calgary International Airport (YYC IATA), or Terminal 1 of the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ IATA) on the way to or from the United States. These individuals must be in possession of a valid US entry visa, have a confirmed onward ticket, and travel on an approved airline. Although the government website also lists Winnipeg International Airport (YWG IATA) as an eligible airport for this scheme, there are no direct flights from Asia to Winnipeg where the travellers can benefit from these programs.

There are 2 programs:

  • The Transit Without Visa program is for citizens of Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan ROC (including those who are not eligible for the normal Canadian visa exemption), and the Philippines.
  • The China Transit Program is for citizens of the People's Republic of China. When travelling via Canada to the United States, passengers must be arriving to Canada on a flight from one of 15 specified airports in Asia. Aside from Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg and Toronto (Terminal 1), Chinese citizens can also transit via Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport (YUL IATA).

From Europe[edit]

To South and Central America[edit]

To the Caribbean[edit]

From Africa[edit]

It's unlikely that you would be transiting from Africa through Canada. Direct flights from Africa to Europe and Asia are readily available. Oceania is best accessed from Africa through the Middle East or Asia.

From Asia[edit]

To Latin America and the Caribbean[edit]

There are very few direct connections between Latin America and the Far East, so you're in for a lengthy trip no matter which way you travel. While there are direct services, there are hardly any non-stop flights because of the long distances.

One-stop connections from Asia to South and Central America and the Caribbean are possible by transiting via major European hubs. Passengers heading to South America may also consider transiting via Oceania (as described above) or southern Africa (as described below).

Benito Juarez Airport in Mexico City is the Latin American airport with the largest number of connections from the Far East; Aeromexico flies there from Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai (stop in Tijuana). Additionally, ANA flies there from Tokyo, Hainan Airlines from Beijing (stop in Tijuana). From there you can fly on to elsewhere in Latin America and the Caribbean. Finally Air China flies from Beijing to Sao Paulo with a stop in Madrid.

From the Middle East the situation is the opposite, you can get directly to South America, but will need to transfer to get to Mexico, Central America or the Caribbean. Emirates (from Dubai), Qatar (from Doha) and Turkish (from Istanbul) all have services to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires. Emirates also flies to Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile.

See also[edit]

This travel topic about Avoiding travel through Canada is a usable article. It touches on all the major areas of the topic. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.