Niagara Falls deserves to be seen from both sides: the American and the Canadian. But, surely you are wondering how to go from one side to the other as they are two different countries. With this post I hope to solve your doubts.
If you are an EU citizen, the Canadian government makes it easy for you and will not require a visa, just your passport and fill out the eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization), an online form that will allow you to enter Canada by air from New York or any European country. Be careful! Do not confuse it with the ESTA, the visa required to travel to New York.
The distance between New York and Niagara Falls is not too long, so there is no excuse that separates you from this natural spectacle. So that you don't go crazy organizing your visit, there are plenty of tours that take you to both banks so that you don't miss anything, but preparing the access is up to you. Here's what documents you need to prepare for your visit to Niagara Falls from New York.
How to cross from the American side to the Canadian side with a European passport
The tours on the American side of Niagara Falls are impressive, but seeing the Falls from the Canadian side is an experience not to be missed, it's like a big theme park! To live this experience without unforeseen events, do not forget to bring your European passport (valid and valid for more than 6 months) to show it at the border checkpoints at your entry to Canada.
Do you need anything else? If you are crossing into Canada by land (including by boat), your EU passport is sufficient. But if you are going to cross by plane, it is important that you have filled out and paid the eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) before starting your trip, as you will be asked for it at the airline counter. This electronic document is very cheap (from 7 Canadian dollars), you can order it online and it is processed quite quickly.
The fastest and most efficient way to get to the Canadian side of the Falls
My advice is to avoid going through the border control at rush hour; it is much better to go early to avoid long queues that can frustrate you unnecessarily before starting your visit.
As there are many of us who want to appreciate the Falls from the viewpoints and attractions on the Canadian side, you can book an organized tour that picks you up at your hotel and then takes you by boat from the American side to the Canadian side. You will probably have to decide before your trip whether you prefer a one-day or two-day trip to Niagara Falls. My advice is that if you are going to see both sides of the falls book a day for each.
If you want to forget about schedules, transportation and speeding through international control, look no further; the only thing you need to worry about is having your passport and visa in order, if necessary. The tour organizers will take care of presenting it at customs control.
Do you need a visa to visit Niagara Falls? Check it out
What happens if you do not have a passport from an EU member country? In general, all citizens of non-European countries or countries without a border agreement with Canada will need a tourist visa if they want to cross to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls.
Is it always mandatory to have a tourist visa in these cases? There is one exception where an eTA would be sufficient: if your country is Brazil, Bulgaria or Romania and you are entering Canada by air. In all other cases, you must apply for a tourist visa.
What type of visa should you apply for?
You will see that there are different types of non-permanent visas to enter Canada, but as our trip is to savor and admire Niagara Falls, the tourist visa will do.
The best travel tip I can give you is to check the information available on the immigration page of the Government of Canada. Even so, I would like to clarify that the visa and the eTA to enter Canada are not the same thing: if you are going to stay more than six months in Canada (I hope you like the falls, but not that long) or if you do not meet the requirements of the eTA, you will have to apply for a visa.
How do I get a visa to visit Niagara Falls?
If you do not have a European passport, do not reside in the U.S., and your country does not have an agreement with Canada, you must apply for a Canadian tourist visa to travel to Niagara Falls.
Doing so is almost as easy as applying for the eTA, although the process is somewhat longer, you will be asked for more documents and the cost is higher (from 100 Canadian dollars depending on your nationality). Remember to start it well in advance of your trip.
In any case, the good news is that you can do it from home online; you can also fill out a paper application, although I do not recommend it because you will have to go to your nearest Visa Application Center (VAC) and finish the process there.
What documents do I need to apply for a tourist visa in Canada?
If, like me, you are looking for convenience and have decided to apply for your tourist visa online, remember to scan all the necessary documentation to attach it.
What documents are those? A valid passport, proof that you have ties to Spain that compel you to return, and financial proof that you can cover the costs of going to, staying in and leaving Canada.
In addition, depending on your country of origin and length of stay, you may be asked for other extra documents, such as a criminal record certificate, a letter of invitation or insurance and medical evidence.
Have you got everything? Perfect, now all you have to do is fill out the application form, provide the required documentation and wait for your visa to be approved, which will be valid for 5 years (or until your passport expires).
Don't waste your time! It is a procedure that takes a little more time to process, so don't leave it to the last minute.
What if I don't have the necessary documents when I arrive at the Falls?
If you don't have the necessary documentation to cross between the banks, you will miss the Canadian side of the Falls so remember to carry your documentation with you and don't rely on luck.
Even if your stay in the country is going to be short, just a few hours to enjoy the attractions on that side of the Falls, you will have to pass the Canadian Government border control and for that the documentation in question is essential.
If you are European and you cross by land you will only be asked for your passport, but if you go by plane and you need the eTA or your nationality requires you to have a tourist visa, you will have to request and present these documents as if you were going to be in Canada for 6 months.
Is it possible to cross into Canada from the Canadian side of the Falls if I started my trip in New York?
Want to extend your stay in Canada? It's a great idea! If you started your trip from New York and during your visit to Niagara Falls you passed the border control by presenting the necessary documents, you are already in Canada and you can move around the country without any problem.
Canada is a great country with a lot to offer, you will love it! The only thing you should keep in mind is the maximum time you can stay in the country.
How do you know this? If you passed to the Canadian side with your European passport, you can stay a maximum of 3 months. If your country of origin does not belong to the EU nor has an agreement with Canada, your tourist visa allows you to stay up to 6 months (the same time if you entered with an eTA).
The most impressive part of Niagara Falls awaits you on the Canadian side, believe me, so take advantage of your trip to New York, check that you have all the necessary documents to cross to Canada and take a tour that will leave you with your mouth open.