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connecting flight - clear immigration

Travel Forums General Talk connecting flight - clear immigration

1. Posted by glenree (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Hi,
Hope someone can help. I am travelling from Mexico City to Dublin, Ireland and I have a connecting flight from Washington D.C. Do i have to clear immgration in Washington even though im not staying in the states just getting a connecting flight through.
Thanks

2. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3711 posts) 9y

normally if you are just transitting you will not have to clear immigration, as you are not entering the country as such. you will just follow the signs for connecting flights.

3. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Yep, as Bex said, just follow the signs. You will be directed to a transit area where you'll just float around until your connecting flight.

It's always a good idea when you are checking in at the first airport to double check that they are checking your bags through to your final destination. That way you dont have the added hassle of collecting them mid-way.

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 9y

Although the above holds most anywhere in the world, this is unfortunately not true in the USA anymore. The Department of Homeland Security has travelled to the furthest edges of madness in its attempts to inconvenience people, and so upon arriving in the USA you need to collect your luggage, take it through immigration (including having your fingerprints and a mugshot taken) (though not customs, I believe; or at least you don't have to fill in a customs declaration) and then drop off your luggage again to make your way to your connecting flight. What's more, several international airports in the USA are now trialling a program where you also have to be fingerprinted and photographed before leaving the country. Yes, that means even if transiting.
Make certain you have at least three hours between flights, ideally more. Usually things go smoothly and you'll be through in an hour or so, but just as often there's only three people on duty to handle processing tens of thousands of people, and you'll stand in line for two hours, or worse, you hit an immigration official deciding he doesn't like your face and really does love abusing his absolute power (there is no appeal), and you'll be stuck getting your luggage meticulously searched through for an hour or two.

If you can change your flights to avoid transferring in the USA, I highly recommend doing so.

[ Edit: Edited on Aug 30, 2007, at 8:24 AM by Sander ]

5. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 9y

Quoting Sander

but just as often there's only three people on duty to handle processing tens of thousands of people, and you'll stand in line for two hours, or worse, you hit an immigration official deciding he doesn't like your face and really does love abusing his absolute power (there is no appeal), and you'll be stuck getting your luggage meticulously searched through for an hour or two.

On a teenie, tiny sidenote... After stepping off an Air new Zealand flight in Los Angeles, the bazillion of us were met with the perfect example of confusion and lack of logic: 5 customs agents for U.S. citizens, 1 agent for everyone else. They rearranged our rediculously long line 3 times, so that I ended up near the front, near the back, then somewhere in the middle. They finally finished the U.S. passengers so they sent 1 agent our way. Bloody longest, most confusing customs experience ever. When you come into Montreal, you get 1 line, 10 agents, no matter where you're from. Yeesh.

Plus Neal got threatened with arrest once when we were going into the US from Montreal, as no one bothered to tell him he had to mail back his US visa (he got transferred through Detriot after missing his connecting flight the year before but didn't go home through the US). They took his fingerprint and eye scan and were very surly. Nice.

6. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 9y

Actually, a couple more pieces of information would help answer the question. Firstly, what is your citizenship? The requirements to transit in the US are dependent on what nationality you have.

You may not need a visa, depending on your country. Check out the details on this page: Travel.state.gov. If you aren't from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, then you may be eligible to enter the USA on the Visa Waiver Program. However, citizens of other countries will need to get a visa IN ADVANCE, even to just transit through the USA.

Also, which of Washington's airports are you flying through? Dulles (IAD) or Reagan (DCA)? I don't think DCA has international flights, but just want to make sure. Assuming Dulles airport, you might want to read this information: International Connection at IAD that, in the second post, has a pretty good rundown of the process.

Greg

7. Posted by S_Deisler (Respected Member 266 posts) 9y

I'm very sorry to say so but the U.S are ebcoming way too paranoid about everything

8. Posted by Mel. (Travel Guru 4567 posts) 9y

Quoting glenree

Hi,
Hope someone can help. I am travelling from Mexico City to Dublin, Ireland and I have a connecting flight from Washington D.C. Do i have to clear immgration in Washington even though im not staying in the states just getting a connecting flight through.
Thanks

Hello Glenree:)

I think u will only have to clear immigration in Washington, if u are planning to leave the airport.
At least that is how it always is, when I get connecting flights.

Mel

9. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 9y

In January l flew from Auckland to Heathrow via Los Angles where we touched down to refuel and change crew- we definately had to clear immigration - l have the passport stamp to prove it! We were only in LA for about 2.5 hours but we had to fill in the green immigration form and go through the usual palava! Thats the world we live in unfortunately!

So l would imagine YES you have to clear immigration - you will be pointed in the correct direction by staff and simply advise them you have a connection to make and they should be able to steer you toward the front of any queues.