eagow asked in TravelAir Travel · 1 decade ago

Do I need a US visa if I get a connecting flight at Seattle-Tacoma International to Vancouver?

I am flying from Keflavík, Iceland to Vancouver and have a flight change at Seattle. I am going to Canada with a work permit (from the UK) and so will be staying there for up to 12 months. Will I go through US customs at Seattle to get the connecting flight? And if so does anyone know if I need to satisfy the US visa waiver conditions that I show proof that I will be leaving north america within 90 days of my arrival? Thanks.


I did a bit more checking after all the excellent and prompt answers I received:

Because I have a work permit to be in Canada for up to 12 months and that I have a connecting flight (my layover at Seattle is only 4 hours) then I will satisfy the US customs on arrival under the VWP and should not have any problems. The only clause of the VWP I will be breaking is that I will be in North America for more than 90 days, but my work permit will sort that unless I have a particularly grumpy customs official! Thanks for all your answers.

4 Answers

    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The old "Transit With Out Visa" or TWOV rules were indefinitely suspended post- 9/11.. Now, EVERYONE-- regardless of final destination must pass thru US Immigration inspection before onwards travel.. There are a few small exceptions such as passengers who used the pre-clearance process *before* boarding the aircraft at selected overseas airports.

    You will need to be sure that you are either eligible for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) or hold an appropriate visa. In addition do remember you will need to complete your ESTA application online before checking in at the airport for departure. If you hold a normal UK passport then you'll qualify for VWP entry.. As always, the Immigration officer at the entry point has full and final determination authority as your admission eligibility into the country.

    In Seattle *all* international flights (excluding selected pre-clearance Canada arrivals) arrive at the South or "S" concourse which houses the Immigration and Customs inspection facilities..

    Once you have cleared entry formalities there is a baggage belt immediately to the right, outside the hall doors where you will place your checked baggage for your onward flight (assuming it was/is tagged for the onward destination). If you need help there are airline agents and counters to the immediate left of the hall doors.

    After placing your baggage on the belt you will undergo a security inspection by the TSA.. Once completed you can go to your next flight.. Check the TV monitor for your next flight. Most all foreign carriers use the S concourse for their departures as well as Northwest.

    You will clear Canadian Customs and Immigration once you arrive IN Canada and there are no formal EXIT procedures for US Customs or US Immigration.

    Source(s): 20 years airline employment
  • 1 decade ago

    You should check with both the US and Canadian Embassies in Reykjavik first. You will definitely be going through US Customs & Immigration in Seattle prior to transferring to the Canada bound flight. As Seattle has no Canada Border Services Agency Customs pre-Clearance facilities, and there are no 'sterile' International Passenger Lounges at SEA-TAC Airport, your arrival into Seattle means you are entering the USA, and may require a entry Visa.

    Under the terms of the latest border control legislation initiated by the US Congress, the TWOV (Visa Waiver) program has been virtually eliminated. You will probably need a valid Passport and an US entry visa just to enter the USA (even if transiting through).

    You may wish to fly directly to Canada (Toronto) via IcelandAir, and use Air Canada or WestJet (or even Via Rail Canada) to get to Vancouver. This way, you avoid having to go through US Customs & Immigration.

    You should also enquire as to whether you need a entry or residence Visa for Canada (at the Canadian Embassy, of course). A work visa for Great Britain may not 'cut the mustard', so to speak, in allowing you to enter Canada.

    All of these things I've mentioned depend on the nationality of the passport that you're travelling under.

    Source(s): A Canadian Travel Consultant.
  • 1 decade ago

    To the extent of my knowledge, since you will not go through Customs check, your situation falls under TWOV (transit without visa). UK passport holders are eligible for this facility, and if your SEA - YVR flight is confirmed you will remain in airside transit and no one will say anything to you. You may want to double check TWOV on the US FAA site, faa.gov or else tsa.gov

    PS you're flying Icelandair to Seattle? Didn't know they had US service beyond JFK, BWI and seasonally, MCO !!

    Source(s): traveller
  • 1 decade ago

    No. you dont need one because you are just making a plane change and you will probably wont be in the US much longer than that. Plus, you are in the airport.

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