As title says, my flight would go directly from Mexico City to Canada without stopping in the US.

But with all the security that US has, I'm not sure if I still need a U.S. Visa because after all, the plane will be flying through United States airspace.

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    I'm quite happy that no countries require this, as I often fly from Scandinavia to South Asia.
    – Fiksdal
    Jun 28, 2016 at 5:05
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    While initially I regarded this question as coming from an unexperienced traveller, your second line actually raises an interesting question, since the airplane could be hijacked and used for terrorism inside the US while flying over.
    – zundi
    Jun 28, 2016 at 13:49
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    @zundi Sure but that has nothing to do with visas. By the same token, a plane that was never supposed to cross US airspace (e.g., Mexico to Argentina, or even Europe to China) could be hijacked and used for terrorism inside the US. Jun 28, 2016 at 16:29
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    @Fiksdal Ok but this still has nothing to do with visas. Jun 28, 2016 at 17:08
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    @DavidRicherby yes, my comment was exactly as Fiksdal describes. Have no doubt that if an unexpected airplane comes anywhere near the US border you'll have military aircraft on it in no time. In the OP question's case, a hijacker could simulate an emergency in order to descend into a large US city and crash it into a target.
    – zundi
    Jun 28, 2016 at 19:49

4 Answers 4


No, you do not need a US visa. You only need a US visa if you intend to stop or change planes in the US. (This visa-free overflight is the same for any other country. For example, I've flown over Russia on my way from Tokyo to Paris but I did not need to obtain a Russian visa.)

In the event that the plane needs to make an emergency landing in the US, there are procedures to handle and process the passengers even if they would normally require a visa to enter the US.


In addition to the information from the other answers, to overfly the US, the airline will have to pass your information to the US CBP according to Secure Flight.

Since November 2010, Secure Flight has conducted watchlist matching of passenger information against the TSDB for all covered U.S. and foreign flights into, out of, and within the United States, including point-to-point international flights operated by U.S. airlines. Secure Flight also performs watch list matching for flights that overfly, but do not land in, the continental United States.

As long as you are not (or someone named the same as you is not) on any of the TSA no-fly or other watch lists, this shouldn't affect you.

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    Is this "only" information passing? If a passenger happens to be on the US no-fly list, will there be any consequence? Will the US interfere with Mexican/Canadian authorities and force them to prevent the passenger from boarding? Or will they just shoot the plane once it is over US territory? Jun 28, 2016 at 21:04
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    @HagenvonEitzen I suspect you won't be allowed to board
    – Berwyn
    Jun 28, 2016 at 21:41
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    @HagenvonEitzen, The US does not simply 'shoot down' planes over it's territory. Unless you make it onto more then just the no-fly list (talking like FBI/CIA/NSA/INTERPOL lists) the most the US authorities would do is alert the local authorities at said airports and allow them to handle it.
    – Ryan
    Jun 28, 2016 at 23:45
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    @Unsigned But the watchlist does not have passport numbers. U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy was mistakenly matched to someone on the list.
    – Thomas
    Jun 29, 2016 at 2:45
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    @ryan I didn't want to imply that. I just wanted to point out - maybe in a too drastic way - that "only" collecting the information may not be effective Jun 29, 2016 at 8:56

Keep the following in mind: never, anywhere in the world, do you need a visa simply for flying over airspace. I repeat, nowhere in the world.

You do need to provide extra information to the airline.

  • 1
    Second this. I've looked down on multiple countries that I most certainly didn't have a visa for (and would have needed one to enter.) Jun 27, 2016 at 22:55
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    I'd have quickly run out of room for stamps for flying from London to Adelaide :)
    – HorusKol
    Jun 28, 2016 at 2:51
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    While this answer is correct afaik, some commercial airliners are not permitted to fly over some countries. (Specifically, El Al is not permitted to fly over Saudi Arabia, inter alia.)
    – msh210
    Jun 28, 2016 at 7:03
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    "flying over air" ... ummm what?
    – CGCampbell
    Jun 28, 2016 at 14:56
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    @msh210 I think the distinction here is the difference between a (hypothetical) overflight visa (which the passenger would need to obtain), and a (very real) overflight permit (which the airline needs to obtain). The overflight permit might require the airline to provide the overflown country with passenger details, and may be contingent on passenger lists ("you can't enter our airspace with person X aboard"), but it's still technically a permission to the airline rather than the passenger.
    – R.M.
    Jun 28, 2016 at 17:57

you did need a travel visa if flying over the US airspace. it happened to my wife, when she tried to fly from toronto to vancouver...

they did not allow her to board the place because she did not have a US travel visa, in case the plane had to make an emergency landing int he US

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    That makes no sense at all, and I'm absolutely sure you're mistaken or the person who denied boarding gave a bogus reason or a reason that was misunderstood. Mar 26, 2018 at 19:50
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    Agree with @DavidRicherby. In fact, Air Canada even specifically states that they don't even collect US-mandated Secure Flight data on intra-Canada flights, even if they may happen to pass over the US: aircanada.com/us/en/aco/home/plan/travel-requirements/….
    – jackal
    Jan 31, 2019 at 7:57
  • @DavidRicherby Or the station agent was horribly incompetent. Such cases do happen
    – Crazydre
    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:35

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