Toronto airport/customs time allowance?

Old Feb 7th, 2018, 12:36 PM
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Toronto airport/customs time allowance?


I am pondering what would be my first-ever plane transfer IN Canada... inbound on a U.S. flight and then heading elsewhere in Canada.

I know that when I'm transferring in Denver or Salt Lake or Phoenix or somewhere, "1 hour and 53 minutes" is uuuuuuuuuusually enough time to (barely make the connection IF things go slightly amiss)

(and I don't/won't chance anything less than an hour, lets say)

But I don't know customs procedures in terms of how much time they consume when debarking at a major airport (Toronto/Pearson) when a plane connection looms.

Are the facilities a good match for the amount of people who need to be processed there?

My targeted flight at this point would land at Pearson in Toronto just after 2:30pm on the last Tuesday in May and I'm hoping to catch a 4:30 flight from there.

Exactly what procedure happens there, and will I have time to make the connection?

(my documents should be in perfect order, and I've never had a DUI or any event to cause a 2nd glance from authorities) (and yes, I have a passport)

I might as well ask about the return process as well.

Eventually it would be a flight from a Canadian airport (Toronto or Calgary) direct to SeaTac, also with less than 2 hours between posted arrival and posted departure.

(and yes, I am guessing that much of the documentation might be done PRE-flight... initially at Sea-Tac) (but what needs to happen while I'm IN Toronto? or, later IN Calgary and about to board a U.S. bound flight?)
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Old Feb 9th, 2018, 05:11 PM
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Toronto Pearson is huge, but pretty efficient. Two hours should be enough but it depends more on your airline arrival than the airport.Remember that the two-hour clock starts ticking when the plane puts its wheels on the tarmac, not when you arrive in the terminal.
Let's take the procedure step by step, with the proviso that I arrive at Pearson as a resident so my personal experiences are a little different than a visitor's.
If you hold a US passport you are visa-exempt. However, the federal government recently introduced what they describe as an electronic attachment for your passport, and call eTA. It's available on line for $7 (that's in our weak-kneed currency.) It's for both arrival and transit.
Immigration and border security, not customs, is what takes time. You should receive a customs form to fill out on the plane; if not, find one in the customs hall. It's a big, tumultuous place but with plenty of helpers pointing the way. You want to join the line-up for foreign travelers making onward connections within Canada. If you can't pick out which line this is, ask. For Canadians, much of the process is automated, with a scanner checking both passport and customs declaration. Then we join a line to meet a real live border officer. It moves quickly and is pretty routine. I imagine your experience with a US passport and eTA will be similar if maybe a little more hands-on. Once cleared, onwards and downwards to the baggage hall. The standard procedure for Toronto arrivals is to find your bags and present the paper from upstairs to the customs officer, hi-and-bye (unless there is a spot check). Since you are an ongoing passenger, your airline may check your luggage through to the final airport so you don't touch the bag, just show the paperwork. Ask the airline.
Your eTA is good for five years. Hope you come again.
Oh, going home from any major Canadian airport will involve pre-clearance at that airport by US officials. You can Google for US pre-clearance airports.

Last edited by Southam; Feb 9th, 2018 at 05:14 PM.
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Old Feb 11th, 2018, 01:47 PM
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Wow, this is very helpful.

Maybe half of what I need is to just go in *knowing/believing* that the process will happen within the allotted time.

I won't have anything foreseeable to 'alert' any officials, and I've been to Canada zillions of times, most recently last year.

I will look into the "eTA" thing.

(PS - I am a U.S. citizen, and the 'eTA' website you linked states that I am exempt) (does it help me to obtain it anyway?)

The "helpers" who might point the way give me further confidence.

I wonder if I can reverse the process effectively in perhaps 1 hr. 20 min. in Calgary (and whyyyyyyyyyyyy would they schedule such things if not?)

Flying INto Toronto on Air Canada on a Tuesday afternoon in late May.

and back through Calgary on WestJet on a Saturday evening in mid-June. (so far, anyway)

Thanks for your assistance !

Last edited by NorthwestMale; Feb 11th, 2018 at 01:51 PM.
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