I'm a Canadian NEXUS holder, and I landed at Atlanta airport earlier this morning on a Delta flight. Exiting from the plane, the security (or an airport worker) guided me to an exit through the hall. I ended up at the airport train platform. I got in the train and got off at the international baggage claim area, and then exited the airport without any problem. I was not aware that this is strange until my friend told me that it's abnormal and might get me into a big trouble. Should I call the airport or TSA, or does this happen normally (or at least from time to time?)

I flew from Toronto Pearson Airport and scanned my passport and answered several questions on the NEXUS kiosk (including the address I will be staying); I guess it was pre-clearing. But how did the security know if I already pre-cleared at Toronto airport and opened up the door to separate hallway?

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    Are you sure you didn't pre-clear at your Canadian airport of departure? Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 4:42
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    I flew from pearson airport and scanned my passport and answered several questions on nexus kiosk(including the address i will be staying), I guess it was preclearing..
    – Jun Lee
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 5:03
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    but how the hell did the security know if i already precleared at toronto airport and openned up the door to separate hallway ?
    – Jun Lee
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 5:11
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    If I were you I'd' check my records at i94.cbp.dhs.gov, though I don't know what you would normally find as a nexus member.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 16:25
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    @theonlygusti When the plane landed, they knew the plane came from Toronto, and the entire flight had gone through preclearance, because that's their policy and normal procedure. They were also confident in Toronto's airplane access controls and, lacking any evidence to the contrary, assumed that nobody joined the flight mid-air en route as that is physically quite difficult.
    – WBT
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 16:00

1 Answer 1


You went through US CBP Preclearance in Toronto before boarding your flight. This is US immigration and customs, with US immigration officers stationed on Canadian soil, and unless something unusual occurs, that means your flight arrives in the US in the same way as a US-to-US domestic flight, with no need for any further procedures to enter the country.

Since you're a NEXUS holder, your trip through immigration was short and simplified, as the US considers you a trusted traveler with no need to see an officer unless you have something to declare or are selected for further scrutiny.

As for your second question:

but how the hell did the security know if i already precleared at toronto airport and openned up the door to separate hallway ?

Everyone on your flight went through preclearance, because that was part of the process before you could get to your boarding gate in Toronto. The airline's staff in Atlanta knew you were on a preclearance flight and opened the appropriate doors to direct you into the airport concourse instead of the secure corridors to the immigration hall. If you had arrived in the US on a non-preclearance flight (say, a flight from London), they instead would have ensured that your only path was to the immigration hall, and you would not be able to leave the airport until you went through immigration and customs. If the airline staff does somehow screw that up, there could be substantial fines for the airline and a great deal of trouble and inconvenience for everyone (as occurred during this incident in Chicago).

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    I've also experenced the same from flying Dublin to Newark. I'm an Irish Citizen. Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 11:22
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    @DeanMeehan Yes, it's worth pointing out that while most of the preclearance locations are in Canada and the Caribbean, there are also a few locations elsewhere (Ireland and the UAE). cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/operations/preclearance Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 15:42
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    UAE?!? I would love to know how that came about. I would have expected, at the very least, another five-eyes country before any middle eastern country.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 10:29
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    @dotancohen I'd guess something about screening people before allowing them to get onto a plane? After all, they've proven in the past they don't need to land in the US to be a problem. Commented Jun 18, 2019 at 11:15
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    It has nothing to do with any special relationship. Those countries agreed to allow US CBP officers to act as law enforcement(as in they can arrest you) on their soil for the purpose of pre-screening flights to the US for the economic benefit of having easier flights to the US. Other countries did not want to give up sovereignty like that.
    – Eugene
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 18:04

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