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I'm a Canadian citizen, traveling from Canada to the US. I have a 5-hour layover in Toronto where I will continue to Minneapolis. Will I need to claim my baggage to take it through customs at YYZ? If so, will I need to claim it as soon as I arrive? Not looking to carry around my bags for 5 hours if I can avoid it, and I can't find a clear answer online. I'm transferring from WestJet to Delta at Toronto, and the whole itinerary was booked through WestJet. I called them and they just told me the ticket agent would tell me what to do.

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In my experience, and I've only done this two times, it is not necessary to claim your bags and recheck them when connecting to a precleared flight to the US from Canada. Apparently, if US customs officers want to search your checked bags they will put them and you together in a room for that purpose, but otherwise you will not see your checked bags until you get to your final destination in the US.

  • What exactly do you mean by "precleared" there? Sorry, I have very little traveling experience. – scatter Jun 13 at 16:17
  • @scatter "preclearance": usually, travelers arriving in a country have to undergo immigration and customs formalities on arrival. By contrast, travelers to the US from a small number of airports, including (almost?) all major airports in Canada, including YYZ, are "pre-cleared" by US customs and immigration officers before boarding their flights to the US. This means that you will show your passport to a US officer (or computer) in Toronto. You will make your customs declaration to that officer (or computer). At that point they may pull you aside for a search of your checked luggage. – phoog Jun 13 at 16:19
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    @scatter Toronto Pearson Airport has a great website with a personalized connection guide which explains all the steps you will take when transferring flights. You may find it interesting to read. It also has an explanation of the preclearance process. – Michael Hampton Jun 13 at 16:32
  • @MichaelHampton Amazing, thank you. "You do not need to collect your bags unless you have an overnight connection or they are not tagged beyond Pearson." Mine will be tagged beyond Pearson as my whole trip was booked under WestJet, is that right? – scatter Jun 13 at 16:39
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    @scatter That's what it looks like from here. Double check when you check in and give your bags to the airline agent. From what chx said in the other answer, it sounds like baggage interlining between WestJet and Delta is new. – Michael Hampton Jun 13 at 16:41
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The reason you were told so because they are not up to date. The situation has very recently improved (last month, if I am not mistaken) and your bags now through check. Even if they don't you won't hug them for five hours, the traditional flow is deplane - collect bags -- go through US customs -- drop them off at the belts just after. But, again, I believe this is now past and your bags travel all the way. Air Canada was the first but now I think WS-DL is doing it too.

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    Are you saying I won't have to see my bags at all, or that I can claim and recheck them immediately? Can you link to a source for this recent change (I believe you, just want to read more)? – scatter Jun 13 at 16:13
  • I don't have a source aside from flyertalk.com/forum/31198365-post21.html and yes I believe you won't see your bags at all but this should all be clarfified when you drop your bags. Please report back! – chx Jun 14 at 3:41

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