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Connecting In Toronto Question  
User currently offlineVasu From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2005, 3874 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4382 times:

I am flying the following route:

LHR - YYZ - PWM.

Would it be at all possible to leave the airport during our layover in Toronto? Although it is only a few hours, we have friends in Toronto and would like to meet them briefly at a café on the landside part of the airport.

I am a British citizen, so I don't believe there will be any need for a visa or anything.

Is this doable?

Thanks!

17 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 1, posted (2 years 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4364 times:

Yes it is doable.

It makes the connection far more cumbersome, but you know that. You simply exit the area to land-side at Canada Customs, (instead of by-passing directly to US Customs). Then, with your baggage, boarding pass and passport, you re-enter the secure area at the US departures area for US pre-clearance.

The cumbersome part is that you must take your baggage with you land-side, as you can not check your baggage first, then clear US Customs later.

While I don't think visas are an issue. The Canada Customs officer will know whether there are issues, and if there are, may direct you to not go land-side and just go to US Customs for pre-clearance.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineairtrainer From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 1557 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (2 years 1 week 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4329 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 1):
It makes the connection far more cumbersome, but you know that. You simply exit the area to land-side at Canada Customs, (instead of by-passing directly to US Customs). Then, with your baggage, boarding pass and passport, you re-enter the secure area at the US departures area for US pre-clearance.

The cumbersome part is that you must take your baggage with you land-side, as you can not check your baggage first, then clear US Customs later.

While I don't think visas are an issue. The Canada Customs officer will know whether there are issues, and if there are, may direct you to not go land-side and just go to US Customs for pre-clearance

Really ? Ok it was at a different airport, but I flew BRU-YUL-LAX with a 7 hours layover in YUL last month and had no problem at all. Once I landed in YUL I made my way to the passport control, got my passport stamped, gave my customs declaration card to a lady who asked if I had any bags with me, said the bags were in transit and everything went fine. A few hours later, I went to the secure area for pre-clearance, took my bags on the carousel in LAX and voilà  



Life is short : eat dessert first !
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 3, posted (2 years 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 4321 times:

Quoting airtrainer (Reply 2):
Really ? Ok it was at a different airport


YUL has a different system with regard to in-transit bags en-route to the (pre-cleared) US.

YYZ does not have the same system.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineairtrainer From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 1557 posts, RR: 12
Reply 4, posted (2 years 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4282 times:

Make sense then, thanks for the info.

And a very nice trip to Vasu by the way  



Life is short : eat dessert first !
User currently offlineairtrainer From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 1557 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (2 years 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4279 times:

Quoting Vasu (Thread starter):
I am a British citizen, so I don't believe there will be any need for a visa or anything.

No need for a visa with your UK passport, check this link : http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/visas.asp



Life is short : eat dessert first !
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1346 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (2 years 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4151 times:

While you need no visa, you will need indeed to sort the bag issue out in LHR. Ask them to check your bags to YYZ only.
Furthermore, depending on the mood of the canadian immigration officer, expect him to be sceptical why you want to enter Canada for 3 hours, not even having a hotel or something there (remaining in transit). Since you can provide an onward ticket that day, you should be fine. I had a similar situation, arriving in YYZ with LH from DUS, wanting to take a greyhound bus in the evening to NYC. I was not able to prepurchase the ticket from Europe, so I was not able to show this and this was a major issue followed by a 15 minutes interview. I was able to provide a cruise ticket out of NYC and tell them my intended bus schedule out of Toronto, which was fine in the end. Just be prepared. Should be smoother in your case however.


User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 7, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4125 times:

Quoting reifel (Reply 6):
While you need no visa, you will need indeed to sort the bag issue out in LHR. Ask them to check your bags to YYZ only.

This makes very good sense .... right now. However the baggage transit system in use at YUL is due to be implemented in YYZ soon. I don't know when, but it was supposed to be in place last year.

But with that system, you don't have to physically transfer your baggage ... but for that to happen, they do have to be checked to PWM.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1346 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4117 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 7):
This makes very good sense .... right now. However the baggage transit system in use at YUL is due to be implemented in PWM.

That's good news. I'm not expert in this, however one thought: If they implement through checking the bags to the US, this means that they are placed in a special area and US customs officer can look at them and call them up if needed, right? Is this the same area as local YYZ departing passengers to the US use?

If not his bag will remain longer in this special area than usual. Even worse, when he comes back to the airport he will pass not the transfer US immigration check but the regular on in the US terminal part, which I suppose is not the same, right? I mean, he's doing nothing wrong, he can explain why he entered - perfectly legally - Canada rather than connecting directly to the US gates after his arrival, but I am not sure if this can raise some concerns if the bags remain longer than necessary in the special transfer hold and the passenger actualy leaves the airport and passes US immigration as a local and not connecting passenger. Could it even lead to his bag being stuck in
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 4076 times:
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Unless things have changed a lot since I last connected through YYZ from Europe to the US, it's actually easier than it seems if you do not want your luggage with you when you meet your friends, but much harder, possibly even illegal, if you do.

Every passenger in transit to the US goes through Canadian immigration/customs in YYZ but their bags don't, they are sent to a dedicated US transfer area. The only way to reach this transfer area is through landside (for now). Once you are done with the Canadian officialdom, there are signs pointing you in the right direction, but there is nothing and no one stopping you from making a detour, taking a break, buying a drink, doing a bit of shopping, or even making a run for the door, all of which I have done (except making a run for it) without any Mountie magically appearing to set me straight on the right path. It takes forever for luggage to be transferred to the dedicated US transit area anyway, so go meet your friends in peace. I seem to recall at least one Starbucks, and a bar or two, on the shortest path between immigration and the US transit area even...

Now, if you want your luggage while meeting your friends, I see nothing but problems.

You could technically ask the airline to tag them to YYZ in which case you would claim them before Canadian inspection, but I can see the airline refusing to do so too. Fares to Canada are notoriously higher than fares to the US through Canada, and they might accuse you of trying to pull a hidden city trick. They might also warn the Canadian Border Services Agency that you are trying to enter Canada under false pretenses.

If you have them tagged to your final destination, you will not be able to claim them in the US transit area and go see your friends. Technically, the only way out of the transit area is through US inspections and onto a plane to the US. Employees at the entrance will let you out back to landside (I have done it before), but absolutely not your bags because they have not been inspected by Canadian customs (there are no Canadian customs officers inside the US transit area).

When you do meet with your friends landside, keep in mind that some people have reported taking as much as an hour going through US customs/inspection and security (everyone goes through it). My personal experience is far shorter than that, but I'd suggest leaving your friends with at least an hour to spare.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1346 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (2 years 1 week 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4060 times:

Very interesting and detailled information, thanks a lot.
So basically connecting from i.e. Europe to US via YYZ the way it is now is:
-Passing canadian immigration
-Get your bagage at a special transfer point (so it don't passes immigration)
-Take it through US customs
-Pass US immigration
-Pass extra security somewhere

So transiting in YUL would be easier, since there is no need to pass canadian immigration nor to collect luguage.
I got it correctly? How does it work the other way round in YYZ?


User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 11, posted (2 years 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 4042 times:

Quoting reifel (Reply 10):
So basically connecting from i.e. Europe to US via YYZ the way it is now is:
-Passing canadian immigration
-Get your bagage at a special transfer point (so it don't passes immigration)
-Take it through US customs
-Pass US immigration
-Pass extra security somewhere

No, not quite.

On a normal International-YYZ-US transit, Canadian Customs/Immigration are not passed.

You go from your arrival aircraft, bypass Canadian Customs/Immigration, and go right to US Pre-clearance. Just before the US Pre-clearance area is a small secure transfer hall where all US bound connection baggage goes. The passenger must wait there for his baggage, then with baggage in hand, goes through US Customs Pre-clearance. That is the part that may change. When in place, the new system will allow you to transfer without picking up baggage and having to carry it through US Customs.

That is what I was saying above. If you wanted to stay a short stay in YYZ, then baggage would only be tagged to YYZ, Canada Customs would be cleared, your baggage retrieved, then out the exit. Then when you want to go to your US connection you go the US departures area, where you would then clear US Customs with your baggage. Cumbersome, but doable.

Baggage could only be tagged to YYZ, as if PWM were tagged, then baggage would go to that small transfer hall. And you do not pass there if you clear Canadian Customs then exit.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (2 years 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 4030 times:
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Quoting longhauler (Reply 11):
On a normal International-YYZ-US transit, Canadian Customs/Immigration are not passed.

When did that change? I just checked AC's web site and it states as such, but YYZ's own web site still doesn't, and I certainly did clear Canadian immigration last time around. I thought only YUL had this setup.

That changes a lot of things, of course.



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 13, posted (2 years 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 4029 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 12):
When did that change? I just checked AC's web site and it states as such, but YYZ's own web site still doesn't, and I certainly did clear Canadian immigration last time around. I thought only YUL had this setup.

It has been like that as long as Terminal One New has been in operation. It is the same in YVR.

You can clear Canadian Customs and Immigration, but you don't have to.

The reverse is even easier ... US-YYZ-International, after a quick passport check, you take a high speed moving sidewalk right to the International departures area.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 14, posted (2 years 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 4010 times:
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Quoting longhauler (Reply 13):
You can clear Canadian Customs and Immigration, but you don't have to.

So now I feel like a complete idiot. I've always done it. Damnit! Must have acted like a sheep...

Quoting longhauler (Reply 13):
US-YYZ-International, after a quick passport check, you take a high speed moving sidewalk right to the International departures area.

That I agree. It's about as cursory an inspection as it gets, I suppose they figure no one leaves the US to try and enter Canada illegally...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4923 posts, RR: 43
Reply 15, posted (2 years 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 4007 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 14):
So now I feel like a complete idiot. I've always done it.

I am surprised the Canada Customs officer didn't advise you that you didn't have to.

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 14):
It's about as cursory an inspection as it gets, I suppose they figure no one leaves the US to try and enter Canada illegally...

From that point, you can only go to the International departures area. If you wanted to enter Canada, or if your flight canceled or delayed and you wanted to leave the area, you would have to go through "real" Customs. But with thousands of miles of unguarded border, I can think of a lot easier ways for someone to sneak into Canada from the US.  



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineblueflyer From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 3967 posts, RR: 2
Reply 16, posted (2 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 3998 times:
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Quoting longhauler (Reply 15):
I am surprised the Canada Customs officer didn't advise you that you didn't have to.

Only time they told me anything is when I headed the wrong way on a US-to-domestic connection (I know, sometimes I think I shouldn't be allowed unsupervised anywhere near an airport).

I like the officialdom in Canada, half the time it's fun, in one way or another, from an immigration officer who asked me whether I had already been processed by one of his colleagues before buzzing me through without further check, to an officer who gave me the toughest immigration grilling ever (worse than China or Russia) straight off the bridge with a very mean looking dog standing guard behind her (so tough I became convinced I was going to be denied entry), to the officer who was convinced I was somehow (in)famous and kept asking whether I was an actor, a singer, an author, or just in case, a wanted criminal, all the way to the officer who hit on me, offering her services as a guide. And that's just in Toronto. Montreal is as fun, and not just because conversations switch back and forth between English and French all the time...



I've got $h*t to do
User currently offlineStarAC17 From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 3359 posts, RR: 9
Reply 17, posted (2 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 3995 times:

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 12):
When did that change? I just checked AC's web site and it states as such, but YYZ's own web site still doesn't, and I certainly did clear Canadian immigration last time around. I thought only YUL had this setup.

That changes a lot of things, of course.

IIRC you can bypass Canadian customs in T1 only but not in T3. In T3 you have to go through Canadian customs then to the other carousel on the departures level, claim your bags and go through pre-clearance with your bags for US inspection. I think people often forget that YYZ has 2 pre-clearance facilities and not just one like the other airports in Canada.



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