I am an Indian citizen studying in US on F1 Visa. I have a 6-7 hour layover in Toronto International Airport on my flight from Chicago -> Tornoto -> Zurich -> Mumbai. I am wondering if it's possible for me to outside the airport and get some food and roam around a little bit before catching my flight? Is this allowed on a transit visa? Will there be any issue during Immigration check?

  • @JacobHorbulyk: Can you please cite the source for your answer? Nov 9 '17 at 16:41
  • "get some food and roam around a little" isn't really a feasible thing to do outside Pearson (YYZ). Everything is car-scaled and the airport is surrounded by highways. If you want to take a train or taxi to a specific Toronto location, 6-7 hours allows time for it, but it's something you should think about and plan. If you literally just want food, there are plenty of restaurants etc in the airport itself. Nov 10 '17 at 5:53
  • @KateGregory: Thanks for the suggestion. I am planning to meet a friend actually. So I was not sure if I have enough time to go far from airport and spend some time or just roam around the airport itself. Nov 10 '17 at 16:55

Apparently, you can leave the airport with a transit visa, according to a forum entry at trip advisor from June 2016 (the entry is #55):

Can I go outside the airport with a transit visa: Yes, you can go outside the airport (it is the VH-1 visa and it is valid for 48hs and it is free. I did, Madrid-Toronto- Buenos Aires with a stop over of 10hs in Pearson International, I was able to go through custom and get out without any problem with an Argentinean passport (the same for all my family).

This is also confirmed by others in the same thread (though I do not know whether they are just repeating the information in the above post or have their own experience).


Some tinkering here reveals that a transit visa will suffice if you are transit within 48 hours by air, but you need a full visitor visa if you are transiting by land. That implies to me that the transit visa doesn't permit you to leave the airport.

  • 1
    I am confused. I don't see anything as such in the link you provided. My whole journey is through air only. So I don't understand what you mean by transit by land. Nov 9 '17 at 16:41
  • 1
    @pikachuchameleon You can answer the questions asked at that link, and it will tell you what you need. When selecting "transiting", it gave the option of by air or by land. By land, it requires a visitor visa, not a transit visa, so I inferred from this that if you want to actually enter the country beyond the airport, a visitor visa (as opposed to a transit visa) may be required. If the visas cost the same and the effort is the same, a visitor visa would be a safer choice. Nov 9 '17 at 17:23
  • I see. The other answers elsewhere say that I can indeed go outside the airport. So I am not sure. Nov 9 '17 at 20:06
  • @pikachuchameleon I have no reason to doubt them; I was just inferring from what I could learn from Canadian government websites. Nov 9 '17 at 20:58
  • I think the "implies" in your answer should be "suggests". I understand your reasoning but I'm not convinced that the Canadian visa rules necessarily are logical. Note also that a.) the needs for transiting through Canada by land are very limited (given the geographical location), and b.) transiting by air means that you spend money on a ticket somewhere else, so they "trust" you don't want to lose the money (but of course, some might feel it's a small price to pay for entering into Canada), showing that transiting by air and land are not really the same and speculating won't necessarily help. Nov 9 '17 at 21:03

I have transferred in Toronto when I was on my F1 visa. The reason that I exited the border control was because the gate that I got off required me to get out of the custom and then go back in again.

So when you try to exit the border control, the officer will ask you. I simply replied "I'm just trying to get to this gate to catch my flight which is taking off in 1 hour." so I think without a Canadian visa, you can get pass the officer and get a stamp saying that you entered Canada on your passport. But your reason needs to be valid. But I'm not sure how the officer determines whether you pass through him or not. (I don't think it hurts to try. If the officer says "just stay in the airport." Then you will know.)

  • By F1 visa you mean a US F1 visa? Also, what citizenship do you have? Did you have a transit visa for Canada? (or are you not required to get one?) The information that you couldn't get to your transfer gate without entering the country is certainly valuable though. Nov 9 '17 at 21:05
  • US F1, China, no need for transit visa as the airports are very clear about there is no need for transit visa. I have transferred from Toronto twice. also transferred from Vancouver before. All without a transit visa. I guess what I was trying to say is: if you say that you just want to walk around the city, there is a chance that even if you have a transit visa, the officer can still say "no, just go wait at your gate." I'm not sure how they determine that. But it doesn't hurt to try to exit the border.
    – Angela P
    Nov 9 '17 at 21:44

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.