We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

International transit through Vancouver airport

Singapore
Level Contributor
6 posts
42 reviews
Save Topic
International transit through Vancouver airport

I am planning a flight direct from UK to Seattle without stopping off in Vancouver (I will stop in Vancouver after visiting the US). I get conflicting messages from TA forum and YVR airport website: Do I have to go through any Canadian immigration or customs formalities? Or can I by-pass these queues by going direct from my incoming flight from London straight through to US customs and security controls? I need to know how much time to allow between flights.

(Sorry for cross-posting with BC forum - but I do need an answer!)

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
Level Contributor
12,179 posts
150 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

Answered on your other thread. Yu might want to close one of these..btw not sure but you may need an ESTA

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
60,353 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

What month and day of the week are you doing this travel?

If you are travelling on one ticket from UK to SEA, via Vancouver, make sure you ask in the UK to check your luggage through to final destination. Everything that happens at Vancouver will depend on that. If you are buying one ticket to Vancouver and a separate second ticket to SEA, you will have to claim your luggage and make a fresh start for your second flight.

With the US being the final destination, it is unlikely you will be able to get a boarding pass for that second flight until you are in Vancouver. The USA have strict procedures. Once you are in security, they can call up an image of your luggage on a screen and ask you to identify it, then if they want they can pull the luggage and go through it before you get on the SEA bound plane. In Vancouver, before you get a boarding pass, you will need your ESTA to be in place, you will need your passport and then they will issue you your boarding pass and clear you to go fly the USA.

You will not be able to bypass the queues. Interestingly, if you were in transit to a country other than the USA, you could stay behind security and follow the connecting hallways to your next flight. Not so with a US bound flight. You will need up to an hour to get through Canadian Customs, be at USA check in at least 1.5 hours in advance of your flight to SEA, then go through US preclearance and get to your gate, and about 5 minutes to walk from the International Arrivals ground level to the upstairs US departures section of the International Terminal. The US section is on one end of the departures level, the international section is at the other end. They have separate security. The international end has no customs pre-clearance for further travel.

Allowing for potential schedule changes that airlines are wont to do, and delayed flights, I would leave at least 3 hours, maybe 4 between flights. And I would check the schedule for your SEA bound flight to make sure you are not taking the last flight of the day. If you should miss that flight YVR - SEA, you want some later flight options on the same day to be able to continue to SEA.

Vancouver, B.C.
Level Contributor
1,974 posts
65 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

Enter your flight information and the site will tell you how to proceed. Apparently if you arrive when US customs is open you can bypass Canadian immigration.

yvr.ca/en/…connecting-through-YVR.aspx

Edited: 4:03 pm, April 22, 2013
Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
60,353 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

Techboy, that's interesting. The first time I tried that entering BA then an American airline, it told me what I outlined above. When I used Air Canada for both fields, it gives different information to go through the connecting corridors and not through Canadian customs as you have mentioned. Who knew!

The OP will have to enter the actual airline info to personalize what s/he has to do.

Edited: 4:49 pm, April 22, 2013
Singapore
Level Contributor
6 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

That's very interesting - thank you all for your fast , detailed and helpful replies, even if they didn't give me the answer I was hoping for. Based on an earlier TA query, I had assumed that I could go straight through to the US without going through Canadian formalities. The earlier query had used Cathay Pacific as the incoming airline. Looking again at the YVR airport link quoted by Techboy, if you fly into Vancouver on Cathay, Air Canada or Japan Airlines, you can go straight through to the US system (so long as you arrive before 8.30pm), but if you are on British Airways , as I will be, or for that matter say Air New Zealand or Lufthansa, then you have to go through the Canadian process. I wonder why?

I'm not travelling until August, but my incoming BA flight arives at YVR at 1840 and the last flight out to SEA is on Air Alaska at 2030. In view of your comments that seems too tight so I think I'll go for Plan B, spend the night in Vancouver and take the Amtrak down the next morning which sounds more scenic anyway. Thanks again for your help.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
60,353 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

Amtrak Cascades is a nice 4 hour scenic ride. Check the Top Questions to the right for the article outlining the procedure (for a non Canadian or American passport holder) for clearing US Customs at Pacific Central Station. Good choice.

Mexico City, Mexico
2 posts
Save Reply
7. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

I am traveling Mexico Tokyo via Vancouver and wondering if Vancouver Airport has a transit gate. I also want to know if I have to clear immigration in Vancouver or I am conidering in transit passenger. Thank your for your feedback

Mexico City, Mexico
2 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

I am traveling Mexico Tokyo via Vancouver and wondering if Vancouver Airport does have a transit gate.

Also, I want to know if I have to clear Immigration in Vancouver or do I proceed as a transit passenger.

Thank you,

Port Moody, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver, British Columbia
Level Contributor
12,179 posts
150 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

Cristina you may want to start a new thread. I suggest you go to the yvr web site where there is very clear information. You will need to clear Canada customs in all probability. If you are travelling on a passport that requires a visa ( ie Mexico) you may also require a visa.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
60,353 posts
64 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: International transit through Vancouver airport

yvr.ca/en/…passenger-guides.aspx

Please open the above link and use the "Connecting" button. Follow the prompts for the 4 steps and read the results. Watch for the different procedures for different arrival times. If you have further questions, post a new question and give the departure city and destination city and the airlines involved. Then we can help further.