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So I have a series of weird flights I can use to get to Bangkok from London with a stop in Vancouver, where it may actually be cheaper for me to fly to Vancouver, bus down to LA/San Fran, and then fly to Bangkok, or fly to LA, bus to Vancouver and then fly to Bangkok.

Regardless, I've been told there may be problems with a one-way ticket into the US or Canada. Would it be enough to simply buy a greyhound ticket to show you're leaving the country to your new destination?

Eg:

Fly LON->Vancouver, with greyhound tickets to get me to Los Angeles (or a short flight, yet to decide).

Fly LA to Bangkok.

Presumably in this case I'd simply need to show my onward ticket for each country, be it plane or bus?

(New Zealand passport)

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Would you have the onward flight ticket by that point? i.e. the one on to Bangkok? –  Gagravarr Sep 8 '11 at 20:03
    
yep. I'd buy all flights and necessary bus tickets in advance, as required. –  Mark Mayo Sep 8 '11 at 20:16
    
They never asked me to show my return ticket, only when I plan to leave... –  Toni Frankola Sep 9 '11 at 12:34
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I'd recommend against busing between the cities: The US border crossing on a bus can take forever. It only takes one passenger to get detained to hold up the entire bus. They also require a complete unload/reload of the luggage on the bus, which takes time. I'd recommend either flying the whole way or, if you have time, flying/training between Vancouver/Seattle and renting a car for the drive between Seattle and LA (one of the most beautiful drives in the country). You can stop and see the redwoods, Crater Lake, wine country, &c., on the way. –  ESultanik Sep 9 '11 at 14:53
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The American immigration people are much more likely to be harsh on the onward ticket rule than their Canadian counterparts, then again I've had some major and pointless trouble with Canadian immigration officals in the past too. On a Kiwi or British passport you should go through pretty easy unless there is some official rule they have been told to enforce by the book, or if they randomly check for onward tickets. Best is to hear from somebody with very recent experience. –  hippietrail Sep 9 '11 at 17:03

3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted
+50

When I crossed the border Canada -> US (on a European passport) earlier this year by car they did not ask for any return tickets. Just what I do for a living, how long I plan to stay in the US, how I plan get out and how much money I had on me and available in my bank account.

Been there before for 2 weeks and in transit a couple of times; so maybe they took my previous records into account...

The first time however was a completely different story; had to attend a conference, but did not book a hotel before and the guy in customs wouldn't let me pass until I had an hotel address for my arrival card. Was stuck there for ~1h, in the end I just wrote down a random hotel address from the yellow pages.

So my advice would be to have some sort of reservation for a hotel/hostel where you stay for at least one night, and the greyhound tickets just in case, because you MUST write some address down on your arrival card, otherwise thou shall not pass ...

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I know someone who tried to do this with a one-way ticket from Europe to the USA. They were denied boarding in Europe (pre-immigration screening) until they purchased, on the spot, another ticket out of the USA. That being said, it sounds like you will have a ticket from Vancouver to Bangkok which should give you a stronger argument.

In my experience these rules are not clearly defined and often arbitrarily enforced. In the situation above, the last-minute ticket that was purchased to satisfy the onward travel requirement was a fully refundable ticket that was then canceled and never used. In fact the pre-immigration officer in Europe basically recommended this as the simplest solution and then let the passenger board basically knowing that this last-minute ticket was not going to be used.

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Yes, have all the documentation of your travel prepared for each leg! Outline your trip briefly to the officials, explain that it was most cost-effective solution and show him/her that despite the fact that you have a one way ticket, you're leaving the country on X date. I think I've heard it's also helpful to have any other supporting documentation -- i.e. reservations at hotels/car reservations at the third locale as extra supporting evidence.

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