GTA 5 error joining session - how to fix unable to join error

A plane flies over a bridge in GTA Online error
Credit: Rockstar Games

A plane flies over a bridge in GTA Online error
Credit: Rockstar Games

If you're getting an error on GTA Online when trying to join friends for a session, we can help with this pesky GTA 5 error joining session problem.

Like the GTA 5 Script Hook V Critical Error, the GTA 5 error joining session bug can also be frustrating, especially after planning your latest bout of crime-related shenanigans. It's awful when those plans are immediately thrown into disarray when a key member of the crew can't get online.

But, like Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction, we're here to take care of everything, clean up the mess, and let you get back to whatever tomfoolery you and your friends were planning. We'll talk you through the best ways to fix the GTA 5 error joining the session and get back to your friends.

How to fix GTA 5 error joining session online (2023)

There are a lot of general troubleshooting suggestions that may well resolve this error joining session on GTA 5. There doesn't appear to be one, cast-iron solution that works for everyone, every time. This suggests that there may be a number of different reasons that players are experiencing this. But the most effective tips are as follows:

  • Restart your game.
  • Power cycle your console or computer.
  • Check for any outstanding updates, and make sure your device and your game are fully up-to-date.
  • Check your internet connection - test other devices, and other apps, and try to minimize the number of apps that are jostling for bandwidth. Restart your router if necessary.
  • As an extension to the above point, consider switching from WiFi to an Ethernet connection. A wired connection is almost always more stable than a wireless one.
  • Check the server status. You can do that by clicking this link. If the servers are down, then you'll need to wait for them to back up and running before trying again.
  • Having said this, you can try a VPN in case a server issue is localized to your region.
  • Make sure that you don't have a firewall or antivirus blocking the game from working properly.
  • Try starting off in story mode before switching to multiplayer.
GTA 5 error Joining Session GTA V error Joining Session
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More fixes for GTA 5 error joining session

More specific measures you can attempt include:

  • You can also try to get your friends to change lobbies and see if each of them can send you an invite.
  • If you get a 'Timed out locating session' error, try to enter Story Mode and join your friend via the Social Club menu.
  • Exit the game and go to the 'Choose Character' menu. Choose the character you want to use and join a session again. It should fix the error.

If nothing seems to be working, then you can consider submitting a support ticket to Rockstar support.

What causes GTA 5error joining session error?

Like so many errors, there doesn't appear to be a single, definitive cause for this. Different players report different solutions working for them, which may indicate that the problems don't all have the same underlying cause.

There does appear to be some correlation between this issue arising and Rockstar releasing an update for the game. So while it isn't absolutely conclusive, that may indicate a coding problem that gets fixed subsequently by another patch.

The good news is that in most cases, the fixes we outlined above help. And if not, quite often, the issue disappears after a few hours or within a couple of days in the worst cases. As frustrating as it may be, sometimes, waiting is the best, or only, option.

How to join a friend's session on GTA 5

Now that you've overcome your joining error, you may want to join your friends in a session. You can invite friends to a session or join their game. In either case, you'll need to pause the game.

And because pausing the game doesn't stop the game, you are advised to do this somewhere safe, such as inside your apartment. Otherwise, someone could end up shooting you while you are minding your own business.

  • Once you've paused the game, navigate to the third tab, labeled Friends. There, you will see a list of any friends who are currently online. They will be highlighted in blue.
  • Click on the friend who you wish to play with.
  • Depending on whether you are inviting them to join you or vice versa, select the option to Send Game Invite or Join Game.

That's all we have for you on how to fix the GTA 5 error joining session problem. For more tips on the game, check out our guides on how to fix GTA fatal error.

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