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Airport customs and checked bags

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Jan 29th, 2004, 03:09 PM
  #1
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Airport customs and checked bags

We'll be flying Air Canada from Connecticut to St John's, NF, changing planes in Toronto before boarding another Air Canada flight. I have never flown to or within Canada. Will we go through Customs in Connecticut? Will we have to pick up our checked luggage and go through Customs in Toronto, then bring the luggage to the boarding area? What about returning home, when we again pass through Toronto. Thanks for clarifying things.
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Jan 29th, 2004, 03:57 PM
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When you arrive in Toronto, you will have to clear Canadian Immigration first and then Canada Customs with your luggage. As soon as you have cleared customs, for transit passengers there is a rechecking counter--as your bags are already tagged, they are simply put on the conveyor belt and you then proceed to the boarding gate.

On your return from St. John's, you will collect your bags in Toronto and there you will pre-clear U.S. Customs and Immigration, so that when you arrive at your US destination, it will be just as if you had been on a domestic U.S. flight.


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Jan 31st, 2004, 11:57 AM
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Ok. Thanks!
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Jan 31st, 2004, 02:14 PM
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You may find that your luggage will be xrayed at Customs. That is the case in Calgary.
Also, you may well find that having your passport will make border crossing a lot easier.

De jure, you are not required to have a passport for travel to Canada if you are a US citizen.

De facto, life is easier if you have one.

The last time I flew into Toronto was before 9/11. I had my passport, and it was inspected and stamped just like I was arriving in Europe.

Coming back, the US Immigration official put my passport through the reader and I was clear to go.

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Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:06 AM
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Something else has occured to me... It appears we will have one hour to get our checked bags, pass through Customs and board our second flight. Assuming our incoming flight is on time, that an average number of people go through Customs and we are not delayed there, should that be enough time? Would Air Canada wait for us? Both of our flights are with them.

On road trips, our crossings into and from Canada have been simple. We had notarized birth certificates and photo IDs, which we were not asked to show. We have no plans to travel overseas so we don't want to buy passports, although I know they simplify crossings.
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Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Sluggo, if you have that tight a connection, I definitely think it will help your cause if you use a passport instead of relying on a notarized birth certificate and photo IDs (even if the latter are theoretically acceptable).

As you know, you'll clear U.S. customs and immigration in Toronto so that, when you arrive in the States, your arriving flight will be treated like a U.S. domestic flight.

U.S. customs and immigration officials vary from individual to individual, and I'm not qualified to describe the folks in Toronto. However, there has been an absolutely notorious supervisor in Calgary airport's U.S. customs and immigration section. (I don't know if she's still stationed in Calgary, but last I heard she was.) She has a reputation for being a stickler for detail, and holding people up (to the point of forcing them to miss their planes even when they've arrived at the airport 2 hours before their flights). As far as Calgary's airport is concerned, I've heard one's luck depends to some extent on whether or not she is on duty at any given moment.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that the extra bother and expense you would incur now in getting a passport could very well save you far worse bother and expense later.
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Feb 2nd, 2004, 09:54 AM
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My big concern, Judy, is Canadian Customs in Toronto, coming as we are from the US. For some reason I don't mind any delays getting home! I rechecked the flights and now it looks like a 50-min. connection. I'll re-think the passport issue and call Air Canada. Thanks for all the insights.
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Feb 2nd, 2004, 10:57 AM
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Hi Sluggo,

Sorry, I missed the point that you were concerned about your combination of flights INTO Canada rather than OUT of Canada.

We had a situation where our flight from Australia was late getting into Vancouver (not our fault), and there wasn't enough time for us to go through customs and immigration and still make our connection to Calgary.

Air Canada put us on the next available flight from Vancouver to Calgary. But they did not hold our connecting flight for us, and I'd be surprised if they did that for you. Since there are several flights a day from Vancouver to Calgary, this did not represent a great delay in our case.

Fifty minutes sounds like an awfully tight connection time to me. If I were you I would find out how many flights there are from Vancouver to St. John's on any given day, as I consider the chances of your having to catch a later flight to be reasonably good. Also, if I were you, I would pack a spare shirt, underwear and socks in my carry-on luggage. (I always do that anyway.)

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