I am planning a trip to Tokyo but I don't know anything about customs. I will be leaving Salt Lake City with a layover in California. During my layover do I have to go through customs before I board the plane going to Japan? Also if i fly Delta to California and then take a Japanese airline where do I get my boarding passes for the Japanese airline?

  • I'm assuming you bought this all as a single ticket, not two separate transactions? Aug 15, 2016 at 16:08
  • Kindly mention your flight numbers.
    – Newton
    Aug 15, 2016 at 16:12
  • Just the airlines and if you have one or two different tickets/itineraries.
    – DTRT
    Aug 15, 2016 at 16:15
  • 1
    'customs' = inspection by an import/export officer? or 'customs' = inspection by an immigration officer about the purpose of your visit? Two different animals once you leave the US.
    – Gayot Fow
    Aug 15, 2016 at 17:26
  • @GayotFow For most of the world "Customs" = inspection of the goods on your person for purposes of identifying illegal or banned materials / substances. "Immigration" = inspection of your passport and visa for the purpose of ascertaining your legal ability to enter the country. There are some places where the immigration official also acts as the customs official (ie. overland border posts) however the two are usually quite distinct. Aug 16, 2016 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


There's no customs inspection when travelling through or leaving the United States.

You will have a customs inspection after passport control at the first airport you come to in Japan. It is nothing too much to worry about, your bag might be opened in front of you and someone might look through it for any illegal articles. Sometimes you are allowed to go through without a detailed bag examination, usually only if you are carrying a small bag.

Where you get your onward boarding passes from depends on how you booked the travel. If you booked it as one ticket all in one go, you'll probably get all your boarding passes for the day in Salt Lake City. (I am not aware that Delta cooperates with either of the Japanese airlines so I am surprised that this would be one ticket.) Otherwise you can collect your boarding pass in LAX, from an airline assistance desk. If you are taking a bag you may have to exit the airside area to collect it and re-check it, in the check in area. You can get your boarding pass there as well.

  • "Sometimes you are allowed to go through", In the last 12 years I have not been asked to open my bag once for inspection regardless of the size or amount of luggage. As long as you declare everything you have, that is required to be declared. Failing that go to the undeclared line. Japanese customs is notoriously lax however getting caught with something your aren't allowed will lead to either a fine, deportation or a prison sentence as you would receive in almost any other country. Aug 16, 2016 at 0:10

You're basically going to have to go through customs upon entry in each location. If you're flying to Tokyo direct, that means you go through Japanese customs upon arrival. Keep in mind that if you have a layover in say, Vancouver, you'll have to go through customs both in Canada and Japan.

Boarding pass for the Japanese airline should be made available to you online by whoever you booked the reservation through. Worst case scenario you can pick up your boarding pass at the reservations desk in California. Only downside is you may have to exit and re-enter security to do it.

  • "Only downside is you may have to exit and re-enter security to do it." You can't pass security without a boarding pass
    – blackbird
    Aug 15, 2016 at 19:41
  • you can exit security to get the boarding pass, you just can't re-enter without it if you do that. Aug 15, 2016 at 19:44
  • But how can you exit security if it takes a boarding pass to get past security ?
    – blackbird
    Aug 15, 2016 at 19:45
  • If you have the delta boarding pass you would have already gone through security before reaching california. Aug 15, 2016 at 20:10
  • I'm not sure if Vancouver is any different to other international airports, however usually international connections DO NOT require you (and in most cases FORBID you from) leaving the transit area. There are usually service desks from the airlines within said area which can print your ongoing boarding pass for you should you fail to be provided one at your initial embarkment airport. Aug 16, 2016 at 0:14

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