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greybeard Dec 8th, 2004 06:08 AM

US Customs at Toronto Int Airport
I am a British Citizen planning a holiday in Canada and USA for next summer. We will arrive in Canada for a few days and then fly out of Toronto to the US.

An acquaince has told me that we can clear US customs and immigration at the airport before take off, rather than on arrival in the US. Is this true?

Thanks for any help, Greybeard

AnselmAdorne Dec 8th, 2004 06:36 AM

Greybeard, it's true. Passengers pre-clear US customs and immigration at Toronto Pearson airport before boarding their flight to the US.

Here's a link to the Toronto airport web site that will give you a bit more information on which airline flies from which terminal. It also suggests how much time to allow before your flight to the United States:

Have a good trip.


Dick Dec 8th, 2004 07:05 AM

We were able to clear US Customs at the airport in Calgary.

The downside, is to allow PLENTY of time. We were warned upfront to get to the airport early and to expect delays being processed through US Customs.

atilla Dec 8th, 2004 08:29 AM

Hi greybeard,
We cleared US customs in Toronto in May of this year with no real hassles or delays. It took approximately 20 minutes from the time we got in line until we were cleared. This may not be the case with every airline or flight but that was our experience.

Pearson International airport is also very well marked so finding your way to the terminal you need to be at should not be a big deal.

Have a great trip.

Judy_in_Calgary Dec 8th, 2004 08:44 AM

Greybeard, it's not that you CAN clear U.S. customs in Toronto. Rather, you MUST clear U.S. customs in Toronto. The advantage of that, however, is that your flight is treated like a domestic flight when it lands in the U.S.

Although Atilla was relaying an actual experience, I would caution you against setting too much store by that experience. As Atilla acknowledged, checking in and clearing customs may not always go so quickly.

Here in Calgary they tell us to check in 2 hours before an international flight ("international" includes flights bound for the U.S.). Sometimes it takes us 20 minutes to check in and clear customs, and sometimes it takes much, much longer, to the point that we don't have very much time left to spare before we have to board our flight. We have tried to figure out a pattern, i.e., a time of day or a day of the week when movement through the airport is faster or slower, but we have not yet been able to detect a pattern. One early Friday morning may be fast and another early Friday morning may be slow, to quote just one example.

Calgary is the airport that we use the most, but we also have had varied luck at Pearson in Toronto, Heathrow in London, and so on.

The time "cushion" that one has to allow at airports seems to be one of the prices one has to be prepared to pay in order to travel.

greybeard Dec 8th, 2004 09:36 AM

This board never ceases to amaze me; post the most esoteric query and back comes a flood of useful information in the time it takes to make supper.

Thank you all very much for your help.

bob_brown Dec 8th, 2004 09:58 AM

US passport control and customs control at Calgary is easy. The whole procedure underwent a major change between the summer of 2004 and 2003.

Last summer the process was painless. First I filled out a customs form. Then I cleared immigration control where my passport was checked, then I went through security. I always ring the bell because of a piece of titanium in my thigh. The security fellow came over, checked me, and passed me through.

Compared with 2 summers ago, 2004 was well handled.

The times I have gone through in Pearson in Toronto were orderly. I find that for an American, having a passport is the easy way to do it. Technically we are not required to have a passport to return from Canada, but it sure makes entry and rentry a lot easier.

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