Flying into Canada on a private jet or charter plane

Updated: Dec 13, 2023 | Tags: Canada Entry Requirements, Canada Electronic Travel Authorization

International travel can be complex, even when using private or charter aircraft. Canada's electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) system is a key aspect of entry requirements for visa-exempt foreign nationals flying into the country, regardless of the type of aircraft they use. This article details the eTA requirements for private jet and charter plane passengers bound for Canada.

Understanding the Canada eTA

Launched in 2016, the eTA allows visa-exempt foreign nationals to enter or transit through Canada by air. The system was introduced to enhance border security, aligning Canada with similar systems in place in the United States and Europe. It applies to air travellers only, including those on private jets and charter planes, not to those entering by land or sea.

An eTA is electronically linked to a traveller’s passport and is valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. Obtaining an eTA is a straightforward online process, whereby an applicant completes an online form with a number of personal and travel related questions. However, it's important to understand the necessity of having one before you depart for Canada.

Private Jet and Charter Plane Passengers: eTA Requirement

In the case of private jets or charter planes, the requirement for an eTA is unequivocal: all visa-exempt foreign nationals traveling to Canada, regardless of their means of air transport, must have a valid eTA before they can enter the country. This requirement applies to everyone, from the aircraft's owner and guests to hired crew and staff.

This rule ensures that all air travellers arriving in Canada have been pre-screened for security purposes, regardless of whether they're arriving on a commercial airline, a private jet, or a charter plane. However, American citizens and travellers with a valid Canadian visa are exempt from needing an eTA.

Applying for an eTA

The application process for an eTA is simple and only takes a few minutes online. Applicants need a valid passport, an email address, and a credit or debit card to pay the government fee. Most eTA applications are approved within minutes, but it's recommended that travellers apply for an eTA well in advance of their travel date as some applications may need more time to process.

Once approved, the eTA is linked electronically to your passport. This means you won't receive a physical document, but you can carry proof of your eTA approval when you travel.

Arrival in Canada

Upon arrival in Canada, travellers on private jets and charter planes will be subject to the same inspection by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers as commercial air travellers. The CBSA officer will verify your eTA and passport, ask about your reasons for travelling, and inspect any goods you are bringing into the country. It's important to answer all questions honestly and comply with all instructions given by CBSA officers.

What is the experience of flying on a private jet into Canada on an eTA?

Arriving in Canada on a private jet using an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) is a relatively smooth and straightforward process. However, the experience can differ based on the airport and the specific services offered by the Fixed Base Operator (FBO). Here's a general outline of what you can expect:

Pre-Arrival Preparations

Prior to your departure, ensure that all necessary paperwork, including your eTA approval, passport, and any additional required documents, are in order. An eTA is electronically linked to a traveller's passport and is valid for up to five years, or until passport expiry, whichever comes first.

Flight and Arrival

The luxury and convenience of a private jet journey offer a personalised experience. You'll enjoy the comfort of spacious seating, gourmet meals, and an array of in-flight amenities. The crew on your private jet will often coordinate with the FBO at your destination to ensure a seamless arrival.

Customs and Immigration

Upon landing in Canada, you'll need to clear customs and immigration. Many private jet-friendly airports have a Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) office right on the premises, and some FBOs may even offer expedited services. Private jet travellers usually experience shorter wait times than commercial airline passengers.

In some cases, a CBSA officer might come directly to your aircraft to conduct the customs and immigration process, adding another layer of convenience to your experience.

Remember to declare any goods as per CBSA requirements to avoid any potential issues.

Post-Arrival Services

After clearing customs, the FBO will typically assist with your ground transportation needs, whether you're heading to a hotel, meeting, or another destination. Many FBOs offer luxury transportation services, ensuring your journey remains seamless even after leaving the airport.

Key Points to Remember

While the eTA allows for easy travel to Canada, it's essential to remember that it doesn't guarantee entry. Upon arrival, a CBSA officer will ask you some questions to verify your admissibility.

Flying on a private jet can give you access to smaller airports closer to your destination, adding another layer of convenience to your journey.

What are the best Canada airports for private jet travel?

Canada is home to numerous airports that are well-equipped to handle private jet traffic, offering luxurious amenities, efficient customs facilities, and convenient locations. Here are some of the most private jet-friendly airports across the country:

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Located in Toronto, Ontario, this airport is the busiest in Canada and offers world-class facilities for private jet passengers. Its Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) provide premium services, including private terminals, lounges, and ground transportation.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Situated in Richmond, British Columbia, this airport provides first-class services to private jet travellers. Its proximity to downtown Vancouver makes it a popular choice for both business and leisure travellers.

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

Located in Alberta, this airport is a major gateway to the stunning landscapes of Western Canada. It offers excellent private jet facilities, including multiple FBOs that cater to the needs of luxury travellers.

Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

Situated in Dorval, Quebec, this airport serves the vibrant city of Montreal. Private jet passengers can benefit from its dedicated services for luxury travel, including a dedicated terminal and customs facilities.

Ottawa Macdonald–Cartier International Airport (YOW)

As the airport serving Canada's capital city, it offers exceptional services for private jet travelers, including efficient customs processing and quality ground services.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)

Located in Nova Scotia, this airport serves as a crucial gateway to Eastern Canada. Its FBO provides a host of amenities for private jet travellers, such as VIP lounges and concierge services.

Kelowna International Airport (YLW)

Nestled in the heart of British Columbia's wine country, Kelowna International Airport is a popular choice for leisure travellers. It boasts excellent facilities for private jet passengers.

Remember, while these airports are equipped to handle private jets, it's always advisable to contact the airport or your charter company in advance to confirm available services and understand any specific procedures for private flights.


Traveling by private jet or charter plane offers a unique and personalized travel experience, but it does not exempt passengers from meeting Canada's entry requirements. Ensuring you have a valid eTA prior to your departure will facilitate a smooth entry into the country, allowing you to enjoy your visit to Canada to the fullest. While the eTA process is generally quick and straightforward, it's always best to plan ahead to avoid any potential hitches in your travel plans.