Entry into the USA via Canada – small travel instructions

Entry into the USA via Canada

Entry into the USA via Canada: While coming to Canada by land from the USA North is always very unproblematic, things are a little different by air. Not problematic to travel either, but you have to prepare a little bit. We would like to give you some information about this. No visa is required, but the ETA for Canada is.

Canadian ETA

What is ESTA for the USA is ETA for Canada.

What is the difference between Visa and ETA or ESTA? ETA and ESTA are not visas, they represent a national entry permit, but without an entry guarantee. A kind of preliminary check as to whether entry is possible. And normally this means that you can continue traveling without any problems. No visa, but an entry permit, without entry guarantee. As soon as you land at an airport in Canada, i.e. you are in transit while traveling, you need an ETA. This can be applied for online and can also be bought cheaply with a contribution of 7 Canadian dollars per person. You provide personal information, you have to take data from your passport and answer the usual questions about the trip, which city you are traveling to, etc. . You should have packed your luggage yourself and a credit card is required at the end of the process.

ETA means “Electronic Travel Authorization for Canada“. You can get them very easily and very quickly (within a few seconds) from the official Canadian government website at https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/visit-canada/eta/apply-de.html  apply for. In the window that opens, the language German can be set. Everything else is also explained in detail in the window, so that the application is not rocket science. After a few minutes or seconds you will receive confirmation that the ETA has been approved. You will also receive a message in the window that is still open and you can then close it.

The ETA for Canada is stored electronically on the passport, i.e. you don't have a printout or anything similar in your hand. Already at the check in Frankfurt/M. City (our departure airport) was checked at passport control if we have ETA for Canada. ESTA for the North USA was exceptionally unimportant. In Frankfurt only ETA was checked.

Entering the US via Canada: At the Canadian airport

We land in Montreal City between. The way to America is clearly signposted there. We ask anyway and get the hint to the pink signs. Pink leads to the transit area, we don't need to pick up suitcases. After many meters the pink signs separate. Left with the Canadian flag, straight ahead with the USA flag. A Canadian customs officer is ready. Although we get along very well with the signs - the US flag cannot be overlooked - we answer his question about our travel destination very well. However, we specifically respond with Baltimore City as the destination. This led to him asking us back if this is in the US. OK……

Entry into the USA via Canada

After a passport scan, we come to a machine in Canada, where we have to draw a kind of "card". To do this, enter the flight number, passport number, city of departure, etc. A lot of data is also automatically taken over from the electronic passport and does not have to be confirmed. A photo is taken and printed, the usual fingerprint is taken. And although my travel companion has a printout with an X all over the card, the nice customs officer waves us through. Our boarding pass on the mobile phone is scanned several times, as is our ID. Each of the customs officers has a mobile device in hand and is happy to try it out. I can't tell you how many times my boarding pass was scanned here in Canada until we got in the US immigration line. Here are the usual questions: I packed it myself, what is the reason for the trip, job, etc. etc. My travel companion has the fingerprint in front of him again, he is traveling on the new ESTA for the first time. Since I was already in the USA with my ESTA, I no longer need it. Also right.

My passport raises questions. It's already pretty full... I travel a lot (quick smile, yes, I like to travel...). Oh I was in Mexico. What did I do there (yes, a cruise, like now. Purely private and just vacation…..). Overall, this was the nicest and most laid-back border guard I've encountered entering the United States in the last few years. Maybe because he is allowed to do his service in Canada…. We wondered if he flies home every night…. Nevertheless, my companion with less travel experience had the feeling of having been under interrogation at the end of the nice conversation. Yes, of course there was a bit of background to his questions. And in the end, the questions are always the same: Why do you travel to the USA, have you ever been there. Where was your last vacation, what is your job, etc.

Unfortunately, our card with photo will be retained. Glad I took a picture of it while I was in line. I'll show you, but please don't be surprised by the picture. You have to be so serious...

Entry into the USA via Canada

In any case, we quickly had the stamp in our passport and were able to continue towards the plane. A tiny plane - I've never flown that small before - 12 rows of 4 people each.... And there was even ONE stewardess who brought drinks. But the flight wasn't bad at all in the small plane. Little wobbled, it was only over land...

Funnily enough, during the border survey, we noticed that the nice US official had photos of our suitcases on his screen - real color photos. No X-ray images, but a photo of my turquoise suitcase…. Okay, he's welcome to know what my suitcase looks like. This increased the chance that my suitcase would also get on the mini plane with me.

Entering the USA via Canada: Arrival in Baltimore, USA

When we arrived in Baltimore, we only had a very short national passport check, as with any other entry into non-European countries. Pause, scan, move on.

Entry into the USA via Canada: Conclusion

Entry into the USA via Canada costs more for the ETA than if you fly directly to the USA. However, this does not make anything more complicated. Everything is very well signposted everywhere and there is also a lot of staff available who - whether asked or not - give direct answers. The subsequent entry into the USA then takes place nationally, as with a flight. We hope our information will be of some help to you on your travels.