Customs Departing from Vancouver

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#1
2,861 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
I am having a bit of debate with a co-worker of mine.

I have traveled out of the country via air a few times in the past. In my experience when returning to the U.S. you go through customs at the FIRST U.S. airport you land at.

For example- Schiphol-Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale with a layover in Atlanta. We went through customs in Atlanta and then re-checked our bags for the second leg of the trip on to FLL.

My co-worker says that she did not have a similar experience recently. She went on a cruise from San Diego to Vancouver last month. She stayed a night in Vancouver after the cruise and then flew home from YVR. She claims that they went through customs at the Vancouver (YVR) airport and did not go through customs on her layover in Chicago.

Is this something special that Canada & U.S. have worked out or is she mistaken???? Anyone have recent experience flying out of Vancouver to a U.S. airport???

I am interested in this because DH and I will be flying home from Vancouver and were only able to get a layover of 1 hour 45 minutes or 9 hours!!!!! We chose the 1 hour 45 minutes but are now worried that we'll miss our 2nd leg.
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#2
Carp,Ontario, Canada
747 Posts
Joined May 2008
Yes. At several airports in Canada, US Customs clearance is done. US Customs agents provide this service at Vancouver, Calgary (maybe Edmonton) Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. Similar service ay also be provided at Halifax.
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#4
2,861 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Thanks, this is fabulous news
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#5
Landlocked in Colorado
1,235 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
We returned to US from YVR in May, and both Customs and Immigration are completed before boarding the plane. This is not unusual--we went through Customs and Immigration in 1999 in Shannon, Ireland before returned to US. Seems much simpler and easier and I applaud Homeland Security for getting this "right!"
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#6
Vancouver BC
7,241 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by smileyperry
I am having a bit of debate with a co-worker of mine.

I have traveled out of the country via air a few times in the past. In my experience when returning to the U.S. you go through customs at the FIRST U.S. airport you land at.

For example- Schiphol-Amsterdam to Fort Lauderdale with a layover in Atlanta. We went through customs in Atlanta and then re-checked our bags for the second leg of the trip on to FLL.

My co-worker says that she did not have a similar experience recently. She went on a cruise from San Diego to Vancouver last month. She stayed a night in Vancouver after the cruise and then flew home from YVR. She claims that they went through customs at the Vancouver (YVR) airport and did not go through customs on her layover in Chicago.

Is this something special that Canada & U.S. have worked out or is she mistaken???? Anyone have recent experience flying out of Vancouver to a U.S. airport???

I am interested in this because DH and I will be flying home from Vancouver and were only able to get a layover of 1 hour 45 minutes or 9 hours!!!!! We chose the 1 hour 45 minutes but are now worried that we'll miss our 2nd leg.
Your co-worker is correct, there are pre-clearance facilities at the following Canadian airports; YYZ/Toronto, YVR/Vancouver, YUL/Montreal, YOW/Ottawa, YYC/Calgary, YEG/Edmonton, YHZ/Halifax and YWG/Winnipeg. If you are flying on a flight originating in Canada from one of these airports and going to the USA, you will clear customs/immigration prior to boarding, and be a specific isolated part of the airport (the "Transborder Wing" in the case of YVR). The same applies for taking the train to seattle from Vancouver, or even boarding a cruise ship out of Vancouver (heading to a US port), you pre-clear prior to boarding.

if you are departing a Canadian airport w/o pre-clearance facilities such as YYJ/Victoria, you will still need to clear US Immigration/Customs in the USA.

One last caveat; if you are on a flight out of YVR to the USA that does not original in YVR, you still must clear customs/immigration on landing at your 1st point of entry in the USA, notably the CX/Cathy flight to JFK/New York and the PR/Philippines flight to LAS/Las Vegas

Remember, because you will need to clear US Immigration/Customs prior to reaching the gate area, you will need more time vs a normal checkin, and US I/C are notoriously slow.

Most US airports have woefully small international sections (such as LAS being top 10 in the world for traffic and only having 4 or 6 international gates); and this allows the US airports for the most part to not worry about it. Vancouver clears 3x as many flights into the USA as Seattle does, think about that for a moment....
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#9
2,861 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
We will have plenty of time- our fights leaves at 11:30pm. We planned on going to the airport just after an early dinner somewhere in Vancouver.
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#11
California
530 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
Approximately how long does clearing customs in Vancouver take when returning from Vancouver to a CA location.

Our ship docks at 7 a.m. and our flight from Vancouver leaves 1:20 p.m.
#12
Landlocked in Colorado
1,235 Posts
Joined Mar 2002
We had an 11:45 am flight out of Vancouver (booked by cruise line). Had a MAJOR problem at Alaska Airlines counter, and it was 10:45 when we were able to start through the TSA check, (Canadian version) and US Customs and Immigration and we still made it to our gate about 15 minutes prior to boarding. So, I would say between 30 and 45 minutes, but I can see where it could be necessary to allow at least 90 minutes if airport were super busy!
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#13
Maryland
386 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
My situation will be a little different and I am curious if anyone knows how this will work. We are flying home on Air Canada from Vancouver to Baltimore with a plane change in Toronto. We only have about an hour layover in Toronto. Where will we likely clear US customs?
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#14
Northern California
6,929 Posts
Joined Oct 2002
If you have a VERY EARLY flight out of Vancouver (YVR) definitely allow yourself extra time to make your flight. Case in point: We stayed one day post cruise in Vancouver. The day of our departure we had a 6:20 AM flight from Vancouver-Seattle-Sacramento. We arrived at the airport at 4 AM, filled out our U.S. Customs Form and entered the long line at the Alaska Air check in counter. DH checked us in at the kiosk adjacent to the line and we turned our bags over to Alaska Air for baggage tagging. Once bags were tagged, we were instructed to carry our bags over to the luggage conveyor belt. Upon arrival, we were instructed to give an agent our tickets - the tickets and baggage tags were then scanned. Next we were instructed to put our bags face down on the conveyor belt. After that process was done, we were to proceed through a series of security check points. Because there were a couple of conventions groups that were leaving town, "newbies" that had never flown before and not enough security checkpoint stations open to handle the large volume, the security process was long. After we cleared security we made our way to Customs to turn over our forms and finally make our way to our departure gate --- total processing time was 1 hr and 20 minutes. Last year we did not have the same problems. So my advice to anyone trying to catch an early flight is to plan ahead as one never knows what you will encounter at the airport.

Karen
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#15
Sidney
834 Posts
Joined Dec 2004
Infoprof56

You will preclear in Toronto. All passengers on the flight must be precleared. Your bags
will be through checked but made available to you to present to Customs. On arrival, you go through security, immigration and customs on the way to the gate for your flight. The
Air Canada website shows a minimum connecting time of 1 hour 10 minutes for Canada to
USA connections.
#16
Vancouver BC
7,241 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by Wannaknow
Approximately how long does clearing customs in Vancouver take when returning from Vancouver to a CA location.

Our ship docks at 7 a.m. and our flight from Vancouver leaves 1:20 p.m.
CA is the normal abbreviation (iso 3166) for CAnada, but assuming you mean California, it can take anywhere from 5 min to 90 minutes to make it through US Immigration and Customs, unless you have a Nexus card (which is really only appropriate for people who cross the border a lot)
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#17
Vancouver BC
7,241 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by smileyperry
We will have plenty of time- our fights leaves at 11:30pm. We planned on going to the airport just after an early dinner somewhere in Vancouver.
Right now out of YVR there are no flights that leave for the USA at 2330; and only a few that leave between 10pm and 6am; just the redeyes to ORD (23:01) and IAH (23:15), and CX/Cathay to JFK.

If you're going to JFK, all the above talk does not apply as the CX flight originates in Hong Kong, stops in Vancouver and heads to JFK where it clears Immigration and Customs when it arrives. It also leaves from the INTERNATIONAL portion of the airport, not the US Departures area
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#18
2,861 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Originally posted by scottbee
Right now out of YVR there are no flights that leave for the USA at 2330; and only a few that leave between 10pm and 6am; just the redeyes to ORD (23:01) and IAH (23:15), and CX/Cathay to JFK.

If you're going to JFK, all the above talk does not apply as the CX flight originates in Hong Kong, stops in Vancouver and heads to JFK where it clears Immigration and Customs when it arrives. It also leaves from the INTERNATIONAL portion of the airport, not the US Departures area
Yes, I was off by 15 minutes. We connect in to Houston- do we still go through customs in YVR???
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#19
14,140 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by smileyperry
Yes, I was off by 15 minutes. We connect in to Houston- do we still go through customs in YVR???
As already posted, yes. You preclear customs and immigration in YVR.

Originally posted by smileyperry
I am interested in this because DH and I will be flying home from Vancouver and were only able to get a layover of 1 hour 45 minutes or 9 hours!!!!!
This by the way is quite confusing. It sounds as if your "layover" is in YVR, which it couldn't be, because you start there.
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#20
2,861 Posts
Joined Dec 2009
Flying from Vancouver with a layover elsewhere- oh well.
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