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I'm Australian and flying this afternoon from China to Mexico with a long layover in Vancouver.

I kind of knew Canada had this eTA thing but assumed I wouldn't need such a thing as an Australian who's been to Canada several times in the past and doesn't intend to leave the airport this time.

But as I was getting stuff ready last night I found a couple of websites warning me that even as an Australian and even not intending to actually enter Canada I might still need an eTA!

The problem is that I'm in China and the Great Firewall of China blocks many international websites including some CDN's which provide some of the JavaScript for many websites including StackExchange and Canada's official "Find out if you need an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) or a visitor visa" page - so I can't check using the official method whether I need one or not.

Other sources I can find vary about 50/50. I think I don't need one but it would be bad if it turns out I do.

(By a stroke of luck the StackExchange CDN is in my laptop cache due to VPN working briefly at one point. It's not working again now...)

So do I need an eTA?

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Everyone transiting at a Canadian airport is subject to Canadian immigration control (except at Vancouver, Toronto Pearson terminal 1 and Calgary, where there are dedicated transit corridors for passengers headed for US Preclearance).

With the exception of a few Asian nationals holding US visas and continuing to the US through these dedicated transit corridors, US citizens, French citizens residing in and travelling from St Pierre & Miquelon, and permanent residents of Canada, everyone changing planes at a Canadian airport needs an eTA or Canadian visa, whichever is applicable to the nationality of the traveller.

In your case, you need an eTA.

  • Indeed there was a race to get one at the check-in counter! i got there a good two hours before my flight but it was the longest check-in line I've ever seen. The official page still said I didn't need one! Staff questioned other staff and told me to ignore that message and apply anyway. I might have missed the flight had it not been delayed a bit. – hippietrail Dec 26 '16 at 22:47
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    @hippietrail You definitely need it no matter what anyone else says. Even if continuing to US preclearance, for which some Asians don't need a visa or eTA, visa-free nationals need an eTA – Crazydre Dec 31 '16 at 19:22
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Yes. eTA's are required equally regardless of whether you are entering Canada or just transiting.

Australians do require an ETA.

The process to obtain one is quick and easy and only costs CAN$7. When I applied for one a few weeks ago it was approved instantly.

  • 1
    Alas, when using the internet in China to access anything not in China, there is no such thing as "instantly" )-: – hippietrail Dec 26 '16 at 22:48

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