Wednesday 17 October 2018

Canadian Airports with US Border Pre-clearance

With the legalization of cannabis in Canada today, there are new considerations for Canadians travelling to the USA. While we won't delve into these here, we offer the following in response to increased interest in Canadian airports with US customs and immigration "pre-clearance" facilities.

What is pre-clearance?

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service operates border pre-clearance facilities at eight (8) major Canadian airports. If you fly to the USA from one of these airports, you will pass through U.S. Immigration and Customs, Public Health, and Agriculture inspections before boarding your flight.

What are the benefits of pre-clearance?

Leaving the security check and baggage area,
transitioning to US CBP pre-clearance
You will not need to clear customs after landing in the USA, eliminating delays if you have a connecting flight.

Your baggage will be checked through to your final destination (in other words, you won't need to collect and recheck your bags if you have a connecting flight).

If you are denied entry into the United States by United States Customs and Border Protection, and are not allowed to board your flight, you can simply leave the airport (as contrasted to the complications resulting from being detained by CBP in the USA).

Are there any downsides?

Entering US CBP preclearance in Vancouver
Any delay in US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance could cause you to miss you outbound flight from Canada (arrive early, especially at Toronto Pearson Airport, which is prone to delays).

US Customs and Border Protection hours may differ from airport open hours. You should be aware that if your flight departs outside US CBP operating hours, you will clear customs at your destination airport.

What Canadian airports have pre-clearance?

After preclearance at Vancouver International Airport,
travellers are considered to be in the USA
Canadian airports with US Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance are:

Is pre-clearance available at other crossings?


US Customs and Border Protection operates pre-clearance at:
  • Pacific Central Station in Vancouver - for Amtrak Cascades train service to Seattle
  • Port of Vancouver - for cruise ship passengers embarking at Vancouver

US CBT preclearance at Victoria ferry port
US Customs and Border Protection offers immigration-only pre-clearance at these crossings (meaning you will still clear customs upon arrival in the USA):
  • Port of Victoria - for Black Ball Line MV Coho car ferry service to Port Angeles
  • Port of Victoria - for Victoria Clipper passenger service to Seattle
  • Sidney, BC - for Washington State Ferry service to Anacortes

What else should I keep in mind?

While flying from a pre-clearance airport means that you will arrive in the USA as a domestic traveler, you are, of course, still subject to reinspection at the discretion of US Customs and Border Protection service.

This article is posted as general information only and is not to be considered as legal advice.

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