Vancouver, July 30, 2009 — The Government of Canada is making it easier for international travelers on their way to and from the United States to pass through Canadian airports. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan, and International Trade and the Asia-Pacific Gateway Minister Stockwell Day announced the news today.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of travelers pass through Canadian airports on their way to the United States. The new program will allow certain international travelers en route to and from the U.S. with valid U.S. visas to transit through Canadian airports without a Canadian transit visa.
Intended to achieve a balance between ensuring security and facilitating the movement of genuine travelers, the Transit Without Visa program is being implemented in Vancouver following a successful pilot project undertaken at the Vancouver International Airport. Other major Canadian airports will now be able to apply for similar status.
“Removing the requirement for a Canadian transit visa will make Canadian airports more attractive for international traveler going to and from the United States,” said Minister Kenney. “This will help airports expand their business, which will in turn have a positive impact on the local economy.”
“This program creates an opportunity to enhance travel to North America through Canada, while protecting our security interests,” said Minister Van Loan.
“We are embarked on a robust trade agenda to open doors for Canadian business in markets around the world,” said Minister Day. “We are taking action here today to facilitate the flow of people and goods over the border so they can seek opportunities abroad and create jobs at home.”
“The Transit Without Visa program is a key initiative for facilitating travel between North America and Asia via the YVR gateway,” said Larry Berg, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. “It allows us to capitalize on our geographical advantage as the major West Coast airport closest to Asia, and enables our airlines to transit passengers between Asia and North America seamlessly.”
At this time, the program only applies to nationals of the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan who hold valid U.S. visas and who are traveling through the Vancouver International Airport to and from the United States on a participating airline. Currently, the following airlines are eligible to participate in the program: Philippine Airlines, China Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.
As the Government looks to further expand the Transit Without Visa program, a full assessment of each new request will be conducted before approving any additional airports, airlines or foreign nationals into the program.
As the program expands to include more Canadian airports and participating airlines, so too will the economic benefits to Canada, such as more revenue from airport fees. The increased flow of international travelers transiting to and from the U.S. through Canadian airports will bring more revenue to Canada’s economy, particularly through money spent by passengers on airport retail.
In the meantime, in recognition of the importance of travel from China, a separate China Transit Trial has been put in place. This trial will allow Chinese nationals holding valid U.S. visas to travel to and from the U.S. through the Vancouver International Airport without obtaining a Canadian transit visa. To qualify, they must travel on one of the pre-authorized air carriers in the Transit Without Visa program and fly on direct, non-stop flights to the Vancouver International Airport, originating from Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Manila and Taipei. The trial will be in place for one year, after which an evaluation will be undertaken.