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I know that in the US foreigners must have a US visa if they have a connection in the US, even if they fly from a different country to a different country. That is because in the US you have to go through passport control regardless of your final destination.

What is the situation in Canada? Does a person who would need a visa to enter Canada need a visa to connect through Canada without exiting the airport?

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2 Answers 2

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The answer depends entirely on the nationality of the traveler, which country they are traveling to, and which specific airport they are traveling through in Canada - but in general most flights through Canada airports do require you to pass through Canadian Immigration, and thus if you require a Visa to enter Canada, you will need one to transit too.

Star Alliance has a good tool on their website at that will tell you whether you need a Visa for a specific trip - both at your destination country as well as at a transit country.

There are a few exceptions the the requirements listed on that site if you are traveling to the US via Canada, such as the "China Transit Trial" (travel from China to the US via Canada, on a small set of airlines and through a small number of airports), but these are the exception and not the rule.

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I believe this depends on the airport where you have your connection. Toronto has a mechanism for those with connections that doesn't involve clearing through customs into Canada. It depends on where you are going from and to though, so check with the airport to be sure.

For example at Toronto Pearson it says "Some International to U.S. connecting flights at Terminal 1 do not require passengers to clear Canada Border Services Agency before clearing U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspection."

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Yes, but if I'm not going to the US? –  littleadv Jan 2 '12 at 6:40
Check with the airport. It's unusual to connect say Japan to Canada to Europe, or Iceland to Canada to Bermuda, but the airport can probably let you know. The normal arrangement is to funnel everyone through customs, so they need to set it up particularly to let connectors stay airside for certain flights. –  Kate Gregory Jan 2 '12 at 6:49

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