Flying from US-->Canada; where's customs?
July 7, 2010 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I'm a U.S. citizen flying from NYC to Canada via Houston: in which airport will I do immigration and customs?

In a couple of weeks I'll be flying from NYC to Calgary via Houston Int'l Airport (in other words: NYC-->Houston-->Calgary). At which airport will I do immigration and customs? I know there's something called preclearance for flights from Canada to the US, but I'm not sure about the reverse. My google-fu has failed me.

The reason I ask is because I'm trying to get an airport shuttle reservation for when I arrive in Calgary, but I'm not sure how much time I'll have between landing on the ground in Calgary and getting to the shuttle. My flight lands at 4:05 and the possible shuttle times are 4:30 or 5:30.
posted by Tin Man to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Best answer: I don't think Canadian customs does preclearance in the U.S, so you'll go through customs in Calgary on the way there. And because the U.S. does do preclearance in Canada (in Toronto for sure -- not sure if this is for all major airports), you'll likely go through U.S. customs in Calgary on the way back, as well.

Take the 5:30 shuttle. Your flight might be delayed, or if you're checking bags, you'll have to wait for them before even getting in line for customs. If you somehow (unlikely) make it to the shuttle pick-up point before 4:30, talk to the driver and see if they can accomodate you.
posted by brain at 9:06 AM on July 7, 2010

I've flown to Canada from various places in the US, usually via Denver or Chicago and usually via United. I always went through customs when I landed in Canada. Most of the time it was really fast, maybe 5 minutes. A couple times I got pulled out for additional screening and was there closer to an hour.
posted by NeonBlueDecember at 9:09 AM on July 7, 2010

Take the 5:30. Having flown into Calgary from the US a few times I can attest that it's usually fast. But you always have to make sure you leave enough time for the possibility of a random luggage check which could easily add an hour to your trip.
posted by fso at 9:13 AM on July 7, 2010

Best answer: Huh, interesting question.

From the Government's website, Canada doesn't do any preclearance:
Although Canada has not chosen to operate preclearance at United States airports, the Preclearance Agreement between Canada and the United States is fully reciprocal.
But they could implement it. That's current to about October of 2009. So you'll be screened in Calgary.

For the record, my google search was 'canadian immigration preclearance' sans quotes, and then I saw the document and it looked interesting on its own merits.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:14 AM on July 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I don't know why I couldn't find anything definitive online. I'll go ahead and reserve the 5:30.
posted by Tin Man at 9:18 AM on July 7, 2010

Another vote for clearing customs in Canada. I fly out of IAH all the time and have never done Canada clearance in the US.
posted by arcticseal at 9:55 AM on July 7, 2010

Customs is at YYC and it's usually a breeze. Not, unfortunately, such a breeze to catch a shuttle departing 25 minutes after your plane touches down. As well, regardless of how fast you can make it through customs, luggage is a whole other story. It took almost an hour on my last arrival home from Frankfurt.

If your shuttle is the Banff Airporter, its departure times from YYC are 4:30 and 6:30- no 5:30, at least not according to their website.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2010

U.S. Customs & Immigrations preclearance facilities exist in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Halifax. If you're flying to the U.S. from any of these cities, you'll clear customs & immigration before takeoff; otherwise, you'll do so after landing.
posted by Johnny Assay at 4:46 PM on July 7, 2010

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