We are US citizens and were visiting Canada. Flying home to USA from Vancouver we went through passport control when departing Canada, but did not go through passport control or customs in the US. How is this possible? Even with a passport and customs check in Canada, wouldn’t USA still require control at its border?

  • I find it hard to believe that nobody has asked this question before, but if anyone has, I can't find it.
    – phoog
    Jul 3, 2023 at 22:58
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    travel.stackexchange.com/q/140431/4171 @phoog Jul 4, 2023 at 1:35
  • @phoog What is so unbelievable about this? The passengers were cleared by the US on Canada's soil. It is pretty common. Jul 4, 2023 at 12:02
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    @stackoverblown phoog didn't say that they can't believe that the events described in the question happened; they said they can't believe nobody has asked this question before. Jul 4, 2023 at 12:18
  • I've been to a lot of countries, but Canada for the first time recently. I almost missed my flight because of this. I wasn't expecting it at all.
    – user27701
    Jul 4, 2023 at 15:06

1 Answer 1


You experienced USA Preclearance, where US Immigration and US Customs agents are deployed in some foreign countries; currently, fifteen non-US airports have US Preclearance facilities. You can read more about it on the US Customs and Border Protection Preclearance webpage.

US-bound flights with passengers who've cleared CBP preclearance are essentially "admitted" to the US before boarding the aircraft. Thus, flights arriving in the US from preclearance facilities are treated at US airports the same as flights originating within the US, and can deplane passengers and their luggage without further CBP examination or formalities.

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    Just to be explicit: the "passport control" the OP experienced in YVR was entry control by US agents, not exit control by Canadian agents. Neither the US nor Canada have explicit exit controls. I can imagine that a US citizen who has experienced exit controls in Europe might assume that the folks they talked to in YVR were Canadian exit control agents. Jul 3, 2023 at 20:21
  • They have it in Dublin. Really nice to do the processing before boarding, then de-plane as you would on a domestic flight. One of those quiet gems that the government doesn't get enough credit for.
    – dlchambers
    Jul 8, 2023 at 0:51

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