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Entered US from Canada without having to reclaim checked bags for customs inspection.

Entered US from Canada without having to reclaim checked bags for customs inspection.

Old Jul 9, 18, 9:47 am
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Entered US from Canada without having to reclaim checked bags for customs inspection.

Yesterday something interesting happened: I flew into the US from Iceland with two suitcases, but did not pass the customs at any step of the way.

My route was: KEF - YYZ - YVR - SJC. Operated by Air Canada for the entire journey (purchased via United).
KEF to YYZ: I passed Canadian immigration control (but not the customs) and continued on to YVR via domestic.
YYZ to YVR: no need to do anything with the luggage
YVR to SJC: I passed US immigration control, but did not have to retrieve and re-check the luggage - it was transferred automatically by the airline.
SJC: it's a domestic flight from YVR, so no customs, of course.

At no point in the journey was anyone interested in the contents of the bags that were traveling with me. Of course, they were still scanned as they were routed, but no usual full-blown customs check when you enter US and either exit the airport or re-check the luggage and continue on.

Apparently this is pretty new: you used to have to get the luggage at YVR and check it in again, but no more.

Pretty neat!
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Old Jul 9, 18, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by junkDriver View Post
Of course, they were still scanned as they were routed, but no usual full-blown customs check when you enter US and either exit the airport or re-check the luggage and continue on.
By "full-blown customs check" you mean that point where you wave your blue form (or GE/etc receipt) at them and they say "meh" and point you towards the exit?

Pre-clearance in Canada has never required you to actually go through anything fundamentally more than that equivalent - just without the need to actually have possession of your bags at the time.

Instead your bags are held in a holding area until after you pass through immigration. If immigration decides your bags need to be checked, they are pulled out and you are sent off for a standard customs check which could involve anything including having to empty your bags - just like it can if they decide to send you off for inspection in the US.

If immigration decides your bags don't need to be checked, then your bags will be loaded on the plane, and at that point you're basically in the US and land at SJC as a domestic passenger.

So it's basically the same process as in the US, just without you actually having to physically carry your bags.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 10:17 am
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While it may depart and arrive at a "domestic" gate YVR - SJC is not a "domestic flight". As noted above your bags were checked sort of "behind the scene". Also I have heard of people (rarely) being taken from immigration control and paired with their luggage and searched.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 10:24 am
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At a couple of US airports (IAD is one), there's no second customs check for arriving passengers. You show passport and blue slip (or do GE/MPC/APC) and that's it, then you collect luggage and are on your way (or can recheck). Sounds not that different - if you have sausage or drugs in your bag, presumably the dogs alert and someone comes to discuss the situation with you.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 10:28 am
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The CBP officer you saw in YVR did your customs inspection. (S)he may have deemed you low-risk with regards to customs, and (s)he may not have asked anything with regards to customs, but that still qualifies as a customs inspection. Your checked luggage was also checked by CBP in YVR. So you and your checked luggage did go through US Customs at YVR, even though you may not have noticed it.

Through Preclearance, CBP Officers conduct the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of international air travelers typically performed upon arrival in the United States before departure from foreign airports.
https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/...s/preclearance

Originally Posted by junkDriver View Post
SJC: it's a domestic flight from YVR, so no customs, of course.
YVR-SJC is not a domestic flight, even though you may have been discharged in a domestic terminal. If it was a domestic flight, you would have seen TSA instead of CBP before that flight.
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Last edited by mozilla; Jul 9, 18 at 10:41 am
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Old Jul 9, 18, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
At a couple of US airports (IAD is one), there's no second customs check for arriving passengers. You show passport and blue slip (or do GE/MPC/APC) and that's it, then you collect luggage and are on your way (or can recheck). Sounds not that different - if you have sausage or drugs in your bag, presumably the dogs alert and someone comes to discuss the situation with you.
Was the same at IAH recently; it appears mostly analogous to the way preclearance works. The trend seems to be identifying the risky passengers at immigration and pulling them aside then and spot checks with dogs near the carousel. Definitely an improvement by eliminating the occasionally long line to hand in the blue form with 'secondary' codes scribbled on it.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 10:33 am
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The thread title is misleading. OP is simply incorrect. He did "go through customs" both in Canada and the US (at Pre Clearance). He simply did not undergo a physical inspection of his luggage. While the YYZ and YVR "semi-transit" and YVR Pre Clearance systems are less hands on than most, it is really close enough to this at many POE's where Customs is a matter of grabbing one's bags, walking past a CBP Officer and being done with it.

CBP can and does pull people aside for full physical inspections (as does CBSA at YVR). This occurs on a random and a targeted basis. It is the way it really ought to be. Unless there is a reason, the need to have people stand around watching someone else go through there belongings is in the past, unless there is a reason.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 11:41 am
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Moderator note.

Thread title edited to note the actual en route flow of behind-the-scenes inspection using Canadian and U.S. pre-screening procedures. Ocn Vw 1K, Moderator.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 12:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
The thread title is misleading. OP is simply incorrect. He did "go through customs" both in Canada and the US (at Pre Clearance). He simply did not undergo a physical inspection of his luggage. While the YYZ and YVR "semi-transit" and YVR Pre Clearance systems are less hands on than most, it is really close enough to this at many POE's where Customs is a matter of grabbing one's bags, walking past a CBP Officer and being done with it.

CBP can and does pull people aside for full physical inspections (as does CBSA at YVR). This occurs on a random and a targeted basis. It is the way it really ought to be. Unless there is a reason, the need to have people stand around watching someone else go through there belongings is in the past, unless there is a reason.
I have probably crossed into Canada in my life well over a hundred times, many on flights, so I have witnessed about everything at one time or another. I have personally been pulled out for inspections probably less than one out of ten crossings, so this it is not typical. Recently I would say it has gotten a bit worse (I guess no surprise there). Also, I have found that a real "red flag" is when you are coming back from abroad through Canada, as the OP did, you will be more likely subjected to a secondary inspection. When I have come back from Europe through YYV it seems like I am more likely to get by a secondary inspection. This is particularly true if I am driving back across into the US and they see on my passport I was just returning from abroad.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 3:30 pm
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Originally Posted by drewguy View Post
At a couple of US airports (IAD is one), there's no second customs check for arriving passengers. You show passport and blue slip (or do GE/MPC/APC) and that's it, then you collect luggage and are on your way (or can recheck). Sounds not that different - if you have sausage or drugs in your bag, presumably the dogs alert and someone comes to discuss the situation with you.
Is this a recent change?

I have not flown through IAD for a couple of years but am going through there next month.

Luggage collection was a zoo and then the CBP line was long (even with GE) and then no TSA-pre line for domestic connections. Anything they have done to improve the process will be great. For the capital of the country it is a horrible start for someone entering the USA.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 4:02 pm
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This isn't exactly new. About five years ago, this was the case in Vancouver for Europe-Vancouver-US flights.
They asked passenger to identify their bags by photo, but there was no need to retrieve the bags.
In this case, it sounds like they might have bypassed the photo entirely.

It's one step close to arriving "clean" in the US.
Right now, all passengers without pre-clearance--have to pass through a TSA checkpoint if they are connecting within the US. (Most pre-cleared passengers arrive "clean" and do not have to take this step. Unless their transfer requires leaving a sterile area, such as at O'Hare).

The TSA checkpoint is required because passengers have access to their checked baggage.
In other words, a passenger could sequester a massive knife or sword in his checked baggage, retrieve it during customs inspection, and then wield it in hand luggage. This is unlikely to happen for many reasons, but that's the idea.

In this situation, the US Department of Homeland Security has mandated all kinds of inspections, questions, document checks, selectee screening, etc. prior to any flight destined for the US. Since passengers have already gone through this hurdle, and if there is no need to access checked bags for customs inspection, the TSA re-screening could become obsolete. This would make connections much faster, and it could particularly be helpful at Dulles, where bags have to be tagged specifically for mid-field or main terminal customs (and they're easily re-routed).

This would also comply with airports like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich, and Zurich, where passengers arriving from the US arrive "clean." There is a customs and immigration checkpoint for those destined for Shengen destinations, but there is no need to reclaim luggage, and thus no need to re-clear security.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 4:08 pm
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Your cleared in the USA in YVR. It is called Pre-clearance. You can do it from Qatar!!! Yes the Middle East!

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3 (T3) in Abu Dhabi Airport is a purpose-built facility that allows US bound passengers to process all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi before they depart.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is one of only a handful of airports outside North America that offer the CBP facility. Having cleared CBP, guests can check-through their baggage to their final destination in the US. When they arrive, they will be treated as domestic passengers, meaning they will save time connecting to other flights or on to their final destination.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle View Post
Is this a recent change?

I have not flown through IAD for a couple of years but am going through there next month.

Luggage collection was a zoo and then the CBP line was long (even with GE) and then no TSA-pre line for domestic connections. Anything they have done to improve the process will be great. For the capital of the country it is a horrible start for someone entering the USA.
I suspect he meant IAH and it is not for all carriers.

Those carriers which participate in the ITI (International-to-International) program, affix a coded tag to bags at their origin. Those bags are not delivered at CBP on entry to the US and thus are not rechecked. UA participates and as the dominant IAH carrier, it takes some pressure off the clearance process.

CBP does pull bags on a random and targeted basis and may pull passengers into secondary. But, it is rare.
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Old Jul 9, 18, 9:32 pm
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As this isn't airline specific and is focused on customs and border security issues entering the USA from a Canadain transit, will move this to Practical Travel Safety and Security Issues

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Old Jul 9, 18, 9:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Centurion View Post
Your cleared in the USA in YVR. It is called Pre-clearance. You can do it from Qatar!!! Yes the Middle East!
AUH/United Arab Emirates, not DOH/Qatar.
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