Do You Have to Go Through Customs for a Connecting Flight?

Sep, 05, 2023

When you fly on an international flight, you always need to pass through a passport control security checkpoint at some point during your journey. While this is true for all destinations, some countries and zones operate a little bit differently than you might naturally assume. The United States is one of these places.

Many travelers are unsure of how customs and immigration work when flying into the United States, and this confusion gets even worse when they hear things like “you will need to recheck all of your luggage during your layover.” To be honest, I was nervous the first time I was flying back to the U.S. on a flight with a connection because I had no idea how it was supposed to work. Experiences like that are what drive me to write posts like this to help fellow travelers!

This post is going to break down everything you need to know about customs and passport control on international flights to the United States with a connecting flight before the final destination. If you are asking the question “Do I have to go through customs for a connecting flight?” this post was written exclusively for you, and you will probably be able to breathe much more easily by the time you get to the end!

Right wing of airplane on flight to United States

How Does Customs Work on International Flights to the United States?

Any country that you fly into requires you to pass through customs and immigration. These two areas are part of every country’s protocols, and there is no way to get around them, even if you are a citizen of the destination country. The main flight attendant on your original flight will likely provide some instructions over the airplane’s speaker system before you land, but this is not always the case.

Customs When Arriving on a Direct Flight

If you have a direct flight, things are very simple. You will land at your final destination, get off the plane, wait in the passport control line, pick up your bags at the baggage claim, and pass through the appropriate customs tunnel.

For most people, there is nothing to declare to customs, and you will almost never have to wait in line. The immigration line is usually the long one. Once you have your baggage and clear customs, you can leave the airport and continue with your trip.

yellow sign directing to connecting flights in airport

Customs When Arriving on a Flight with at Least One Domestic Connection

If you don’t have a direct flight, things might be a tad trickier. When you fly into the United States, the rule is that you must pass through customs and immigration at your first point of entry in the United States. Therefore, if you fly from Paris to Chicago with a layover in New York, you will need to pass through customs and passport control in New York, not in Chicago.

Your flight from New York to Chicago is technically a domestic flight, and it would land at a domestic terminal in Chicago. As a result, there would be no chance to pass through customs and immigration in Chicago. To ensure that all passengers immigrate properly, immigration is always done immediately upon landing at the first airport, and everything after that is considered domestic travel.

Customs Pre-Clearance at an International Airport

The United States has customs and immigration pre-clearance systems in place in several international airports around the world. These advanced checkpoints allow passengers to clear immigration and customs before their flight, rather than upon arrival. This frontloads the bottleneck of security checks to the beginning of your trip, which makes for a very smooth and stress-free arrival!

Despite what you may assume, almost none of these checkpoints are in Europe’s Schengen Area. The vast majority are in Canadian cities, like Toronto, Vancouver, and Calgary. Beyond Canada, there are preclearance capabilities at select airports in Bermuda, the Bahamas, Aruba, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates.

Do You Have to Recheck Baggage on Connecting International Flights to the United States?

Nonstop Flights to the United States

If you have a direct flight to the United States, you will simply complete the immigration process with your passport and boarding passes, pick up your baggage at the baggage claim upon arrival and then pass through the US Customs inspection. There is no need to do anything else. Usually, by the time you get through the long lines of the passport check area, your bags will be awaiting you in the baggage claim area.

screen displaying baggage claim information in New York City airport

Flights to the United States with at Least One Domestic Connection

If your flight to the United States includes a layover somewhere else in the United States, and you pass through customs and immigration anywhere other than your final destination, you will need to recheck all of your luggage at that point. Essentially, once you land at your first point of entry in the United States, and you pass through passport control, you will need to wheel your bags through customs, recheck them at an expedited counter designated for connections from international flights, and continue on to your next gate.

The check-in desks at this point are usually entirely separate from the ones at the entrance to the airport. These desks are normally exclusively for passengers arriving from a foreign country and connecting to another city in the United States. As such, there is not usually much of a line, and you will likely not need to pass through security again before heading to the gate for your next flight.

International Connecting Flights Before Arriving to the United States

In the vast majority of cases, you will not need to recheck your bags until you arrive in the United States. If your connection is in Europe, for example, your bags will not need to be rechecked. While customs procedures vary by country and region, very few places require you to recheck your bags if you are just connecting through to a different country and remaining in the transit area.

​I’ve done this multiple times this year alone. Coming home from India, we had a layover in Amsterdam before continuing to Washington DC. We did not need to recheck any baggage in Amsterdam, and we received it upon landing in DC. 

Coming home from Egypt, we had layovers in both Rome and New York City. We did not have to recheck any baggage in Rome, but we did have to recheck our baggage in New York before continuing on to Pittsburgh.

The exception to this is if your itinerary is on separate tickets. If your flights are booked on multiple itineraries, the connecting procedure will be very different. This is because there is no way for the baggage system to know you are boarding a different flight once you land.

Right wing of airplane landing from international flight

Do You Have to Go Through Customs for a Layover in Europe?

Europe functions uniquely to most places in the world, due to the immigration-free travel throughout most of the continent. If your origin, layover airport, and destination are all a part of the Schengen zone, you will not need to clear customs or immigration at all. Your passport or other travel document might be checked, but it will not be stamped upon arrival on your transit flight or at your final destination.

What if you are coming from somewhere outside of Europe, passing through on a layover in Europe, and landing somewhere else? This was the case on my recent trip from Egypt to the United States, which had a layover in Rome. In cases like this, you will not pass through any form of customs and immigration screening during your layover.

If you plan on leaving the airport, you will need to pass through immigration and customs. However, since your luggage will remain in the airport, customs officers won’t usually give you a hard time, as long as you have a valid transit visa or passport that allows visa-free travel to your international destination.

connection security checkpoint at airport in Italy

Security Checks During Layovers in Europe

When you have an international connection in Europe connecting you to and from countries that aren’t a part of the Schengen zone, you will not need to pass through customs. But you will need to go through a brief airport security check! 

This check is much more relaxed than a regular airport security check. There are usually no wait times, and you may not have to remove electronics from your bag or dispose of liquids. In my experience, the average wait time to get through transit security in major European airports is between 2 and 7 minutes.

How Much Time Do You Need to Clear Customs and Immigration on a Flight to the US?

Airlines and airports recognize that transit passengers often have very short connection times. The airport does all it can to ensure that the customs declaration, security screening, border control, and baggage rechecking processes move as swiftly as possible for passengers with flight connections, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) works tirelessly to safely and efficiently help passengers clear security and arrive to their gates with plenty of time remaining.

With that being said, you need to put yourself in a good position, too. You never want to pick the flight itinerary with the minimum connection time between your first flight and second flight, as it is your job to make sure you have enough time to complete all of these steps. International connections in the United States have a lot of moving pieces, and it is not uncommon to experience a long wait in immigration and customs lines during peak periods.

I recommend leaving yourself several hours of time, if possible

Leave Several Hours of Time to Pass Through Customs

I recommend leaving yourself several hours of time, if possible. While the time you will need varies greatly depending on the airport, the time of day, and the time of year, it is always better to give yourself a little too much time than to give yourself too little time.

Long layovers are often frowned upon by travelers, but I am a big fan of 4-hour layovers on long-haul flights. The departure area and gate areas always have plenty of options for places to eat, and you won’t even need to haul around any checked luggage during this time.

While nonstop flights are usually best, having a nice meal or work session at your connecting airport is always a great plan, too. While the international terminal at an airport is usually the nicest one, you can still usually expect plenty of great food options in domestic terminals when waiting for your connecting flight.

British Airways plane at airport in United States

4 Tips for Passing Through US Customs and Immigration Quickly to Get to a Connecting Flight

During our time living in Mexico, we took a lot of flights from Mexico City to various places in the United States, and we learned pretty well how to have a hassle-free experience. Here are a few of our top tips, based on lessons that we learned.

1. Different Airlines Require More Connection Time

While different airlines have different rules regarding connection times, we found that some airlines are very unreliable with their baggage handling. British Airways and American Airlines are two of the worst major airlines when it comes to baggage handling. Ironically, they are partners.

On one trip to Europe, we flew from the U.S. to Italy with a stop at London Heathrow airport on British Airways. They lost our bags for a full month and took over 6 months to compensate us for the thousands of dollars that we had to pay to purchase all new things for our month-long trip.

Stories like this are not uncommon with American Airlines, and we have personally been with people on two different occasions whose baggage was left behind at a connecting airport. If they can’t do it right on a domestic flight, odds are they can’t do it right on an international flight.

We almost always fly with Delta or with one of Delta’s partners, and we have never been disappointed. The Delta App allows you to track your bags, and Delta even has a 15-minute guarantee. If your bag doesn’t appear at the baggage claim within 15 minutes, they will give you free SkyMiles.

2. Global Entry is Worth Every Penny

Global Entry is a program sponsored by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that expedites international arrivals for U.S. citizens. You pay a fee and go through an application process, and once approved you get to skip the entire passport control line when arriving on an international flight to the United States. This extra time is a major advantage when you have a connection flight, as you also get to beat the rest of the travelers to the U.S. Customs lines and the check-in counter to recheck your bags.

Global entry doesn’t even require you to bring any extra travel documents with you. Your passport is all you need, and there is a kiosk that will scan your face to make sure you are who you say you are. Once it approves you, you pass through a dedicated Global Entry line and move along quickly.

On one flight home from Abu Dhabi during the airport terminal’s peak times, Global Entry enabled us to skip past a 1-hour-long border protection line. To sweeten the deal, Global Entry applications also include TSA Precheck, which makes security a breeze when leaving on flights within the United States.

List of Benefits of Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program

3. Take Advantage of Mobile Passport Control

If you don’t want to pay to sign up for Global Entry, you can take advantage of Mobile Passport Control. This new feature recently was rolled out by the American government, and it allows travelers to pre-clear customs and immigration via their phones. The feature is available via mobile app on both iOS and Android.

Mobile Passport Control can save you a massive amount of time by permitting you to fill out your customs declaration form and conduct your passport screening in advance. It is especially beneficial for a transit passenger with no checked baggage, as you can breeze through immigration and head straight to the border. The immigration and customs line can be over an hour long in the worst cases, and Mobile Passport Control can turn that wait into less than ten minutes.

4. Make Sure You Book a Long Enough Layover

At the end of the day, there is only so much you can do to get through customs and immigration faster. It is crucial that you book a long enough layover time in the event that things do not go to plan. If there is a long customs line, or if your first flight is delayed, you don’t want to feel rushed trying to make your connection.

If the delay is your airline’s fault, they will put you on the next available flight. However, if something else causes the delay, like long customs lines or a need to switch terminals, the airline isn’t liable. 

It’s a good idea to err on the side of a longer layover. I always book layovers that are at least two hours long when connecting through the United States and one and a half hours long when connecting through Europe. I’d rather sip on a glass of wine in an airport lounge than break into a nervous sweat waiting for my bags before heading to the transfer service desk!

Thanks for reading my post about passing through customs on an international flight to the United States with a connection. Hopefully, this post answered any questions you have about passing through customs when flying to the United States, including how to recheck your baggage.

If you have any questions or thoughts, drop a comment below.


Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.


  1. Reply


    March 19, 2023

    Greg – This post is just what I needed – thank you so much! Have you used the Mobile Passport Control app? It seems like it could save some time. I haven’t traveled internationally in years. When we return to the US, we will fly from Amsterdam to ATL and then home to South Carolina. Mobile Passport Control is available in ATL.

    Thank you!

    • Reply


      March 21, 2023


      Thanks for reading! I’m really happy this post was helpful for you. I personally have not used the MPC app because I have Global Entry. However, I do know that it is a great tool that I absolutely recommend using. While getting things set up on the front end does take a little bit of time, you’ll probably be able to use a dedicated Mobile Passport Control line when you land in ATL. Since ATL is such a busy airport, the regular lines can definitely get very long…I’ve seen them there plenty of times! I hope you have a great trip and get home safely!

  2. Reply


    March 26, 2023

    Hi Greg,
    Thank you for your great article, answered every question I had regarding travel from Italy to the US. Curious if could tell me how it works traveling from Venice to the Us with a layover in Amsterdam, one ticket, traveling with carryon only. Will I need to go through customs in Amsterdam or just catch the next flight. I am flying Delta/KLM and have a 1hr 45min layover in Amsterdam on the way back to the US. Is this long enough? I still have time to change my ticket if not.
    I would love to know what to expect when landing in Amsterdam, please advise and thank you!

    • Reply


      March 26, 2023

      Hi Patti,

      Thank you for your kind words! I’m so happy that my post was helpful for you. Regarding your question, I can answer with 100% confidence, because I just flew into the US with a layover in Amsterdam on Delta/KLM two months ago!

      When you land in Amsterdam, you will have to go through a security check, but that is all. In my experience, it was one of the most laid-back, casual, fast security checks. We didn’t have to take things out of our bags, there wasn’t much of a line, and we were through within 10 minutes. We travel with a ton of electronic equipment, and they didn’t flag a single one of our backpacks or carry-ons. 1hr45 is absolutely enough time for your connection.

      Once you get through the quick security check, you will be right in Amsterdam’s big, beautiful terminal. Great restaurants and shopping, not too much walking to the gates, and very straightforward navigation. The airport technically has three different terminals, but they are all housed in the same building and there is no need to exit and take a bus, for example.

      Have an AWESOME trip!

  3. Reply

    Erin Decker

    April 1, 2023

    Thank you for this great article. I will be flying from Venice to JFK with a 2 hour layover at Charles Degaul- will this be enough time.? I’m traveling with family and we had planned on checking bags in Venice. Will they go straight to JFK or will we need to collect our luggage and go through custom check with our bags or will our luggage go straight through tomJFK where we will go through customs?

    • Reply


      April 2, 2023

      Hi Erin! Thanks for reading. I’m happy this post was helpful for you! Firstly, Two hours should be enough time in Paris, but you’ll want to move as quickly as possible. Two hours is plenty of time in most cases, but CDG is notoriously huge and connections can be a bit spread out. As long as you go straight to the gate before stopping for food or other things, you will be perfectly fine.

      As far as your bags go, you can check them in Venice and you’ll see them in New York. There is no need to grab them while in Paris. The U.S.’s funky customs rule only applies within the U.S., so as long as JFK is your final stop on your flight itinerary, you can just grab them at the baggage claim once you get to New York. The weird rule would only come into play if you were flying from, say, Venice to New York and then onward to Boston.

      I hope this helps. Have a great trip, and reach out if you need anything!

  4. Reply

    Erin Decker

    April 5, 2023

    Thanks so much! I was nervous that we would t have time to pick up our luggage and recheck😊

  5. Reply


    April 14, 2023

    Hi Greg, really glad you’re addressing this! Just flew from Calgary to SFO with a stop in Vancouver. What a goat rope! Had to go through customs AND security in Vancouver before getting access to the area with US-bound flights and I barely made met flight. I’m about to go on a trip to England/Scotland in June…direct SFO to Heathrow on the way out, but Edinburgh through Heathrow to get to SFO on the way back. Will I have to go through security and customs in Heathrow before being able to board a US-bound flight? Or will that be done when I arrive at SFO? Many of the available flights only give about an hour layover at Heathrow so I really need to know…hope you have the answer!

    • Reply


      April 18, 2023

      Hey Cori,

      I’m happy my post was valuable for you! That story sounds like a nightmare. You will not need to go through customs in Heathrow on your way back. You will be arriving in London from a UK airport, and there will be no need to worry about US Customs until you’re on the ground in San Francisco. An hour layover is tight, though given that Heathrow is huge. I’d advise a longer layover if there is one available just for peace of mind, but if there isn’t you should be able to swing it. Heathrow is massive, but it is pretty easy to get around within the airport. I hope you have a great trip!

  6. Reply


    April 15, 2023

    Hi Greg.. we are travelling from NZ to Paris via a stopover in SFO for 6 hours. Do you know if we have to pick up checked luggage or would it be automatically transferred to our second international flight. We are basically in transit .. arriving and departing internationally. We are not taking any domestic flights. Thanks

    • Reply


      April 18, 2023

      Hey Jane,

      If you are just transiting through an airport in the U.S., you probably do not need to go through customs or recheck your bags. You will likely just stay in the international area of the airport and never need to clear border control or customers before continuing on to Paris. Is your flight all on one reservation?

  7. Reply


    April 15, 2023

    Hi Greg, we are flying Pittsburgh to Newark, Newark to Toronto on United , 1:10 layover in Toronto, then on a flight operated by Air Canada to Athens. Will we need to get our luggage and recheck it on the Air Canada flight to Athens. This was all ticketed with United with United flight numbers. Thank you.

    • Reply


      April 18, 2023

      Hey Billie,

      Pittsburgh proud! I love it. We are actually based out of Pittsburgh ourselves. You shouldn’t have to recheck your bags in Toronto. As far as I know, Canada isn’t nearly as particular with the baggage controls as the United States is. Since your ultimate destination is not in Canada and your entire route was ticketed with United, you should be able to check your bags in the Steel City and forget about them until you arrive in Athens. The funky US rule only comes into play when you are arriving in the US from an international flight and then connecting to somewhere else within the US. So, on your way home you will need to collect and recheck your bags in Newark before continuing on to Pittsburgh.

  8. Reply


    April 16, 2023

    Greg- Thank you for your article. I am hoping that you may be able to answer a question for me. I am flying internationally with my family of four for the first time. Our flight to ATL originates in Calgary and has a relatively short layover in Toronto. Will will have to go through customs in Calgary, Toronto, or BOTH? If we check a bag and have to go through customs in Toronto, will be have to claim the bag and recheck it?

    • Reply


      April 18, 2023

      Hey Tracy,

      How exciting! I’m so happy to hear you’re taking your family on their first international trip. I am so excited for you. You will not have to go through customs until you land in Atlanta, which is your final stop anyway. The U.S. is very particular with its customs rules, and one of them is that you need to declare your baggage at your first port of entry in the U.S. Since that is Atlanta for you, you will go through customs then. On your way home, I think you will need to go through customs in Toronto, but then not in Calgary, although I could be mistaken. I am less familiar with Canadian customs rules, but generally you go through customs when you first arrive into the final country you are heading to. So, if your final destination is Canada, you usually go through customs at the first Canadian airport you get to. Does that make sense?

  9. Reply


    April 18, 2023

    Hi Greg,
    We are flying home from Rome to Los Angeles on Turkish Airlines 1360. Unfortunately, we have layover in Turkey for 2hours and 35 minutes on Turkish Airlines 9. My question to you is do we need recheck our luggage and going through customs again when we arrive in Turkey? Or would it be automatically transferred to our destination in LAX when we were departing in Rome? Since we only have 2:35 hours layover, we are so nervous that we would not have enough time to go through all these procedures.

    • Reply


      April 18, 2023

      Hi Josephine,

      Your luggage should be automatically transferred. Once you check it in Rome, you shouldn’t have to see it again until you get home to LA! Two and a half hours should be plenty of time in Istanbul, too.

  10. Reply

    Jan Daniel

    April 20, 2023

    Hi Greg
    We are traveling from Dubrovnik to Miami with a layover in Istanbul of 1 hour and 50 minutes, via Turkish Air. Will we need to go through customs and or/security at the Istanbul airport, or will we be able to go directly to the gate? We will not be checking any luggage.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Reply


      April 20, 2023

      Hi Jan,

      I am not sure if you’ll need to go through customs or security in the Istanbul airport. You usually do not as long as you have a connecting international flight, but every country handles this differently. In any case, the security or customs check would be abbreviated, and if you have nothing to declare, you will probably just breeze right through.

  11. Reply


    April 22, 2023

    Greg, this article is perfect timing! I haven’t traveled int’l since 2018 & I’m rusty with remembering how it all works. Then today I logged into look at the layover times again & some are shorter (new change by United) so I’m concerned.

    Flying from Boise to Athens, via Chicago (55 min layover!) & Munich (1.5 hr layover).

    Return is Athens to Boise, via London (1 hr layover) & San Fran (1.5 hr layover).

    Should I be concerned with these short layover times at any of these airports?

    Also, from reading your post and subsequent comments, our luggage TO Athens will be checked all the way there, but on our return flight home to Boise, we’ll be going through customs and immigration at SFO & rechecking our luggage? Is that correct?

    Shame on me for not doing my homework on Global Entry. I just applied for and received TSA precheck but now I realize I should have just applied for GE and got the TSA precheck as a part of that! Ugh.

    Thanks for the great article!

    • Reply


      May 9, 2023

      Hi Cindy,

      I’m so happy that this article was helpful, and I hope my response isn’t too late! The only layover I would be wary of is 1.5 hours in San Francisco on the way home, but it could be enough time. This is where you will need to clear US customs, which may be fast…or may not. To be honest, I have never landed in SFO and connected to another destination in the US, so I’m not sure how quick or slow they are. I know that in Atlanta, where we normally arrive before connecting, 90 minutes would be too short. As you mentioned in your comment, YES there is where you will pass through customs and immigration, and YES your bags will be checked all the way to Athens.

      I’m sorry to hear about the Global Entry double dip! That is unfortunate, but at least you can still have both!

  12. Reply

    Karen Bowers

    May 5, 2023

    Hi Greg–your article definitely helps–google and Customs sites are CONFUSING!! I wiil be traveling solo round trip Newark NJ to Quito/Galapagos/Amazon–I have NOT purchased air yet as flights are horrible–very short or very long and I am unclear @ Customs,etc– There are NO direct flights but some connections are in US like Miami/Atlanta while some are International (Panama,Bogota,Costa Rica) which as a single female I’m trying to avoid due to current country unrests not to mention they are in the middle of the night– what is process if I have an International connection from Quito to Costa Rica and then Newark–Customs in Costa Rica or Newark? Then for arrival in Quito do I go through Customs when I arrive there? what about if there’s a connecting flight in US vs International–customs when/where
    Thanks soooo much–want to get tickets purchased ASAP

    • Reply


      May 9, 2023

      Hey Karen,

      You need to clear customs in each country whose border you enter. If you have an overnight layover and plan to leave the airport to sleep in a hotel, you will need to make sure you have a visa (or can enter visa free) and will need to go through customs. Then, once you land in the US, you will go through US Customs at the first airport you enter in the US. Customs needs to be passed in each country that you enter, as each country has its own customs protection department. If you go to the Galapagos (part of Ecuador) you will need to pass Ecuadorian Customs. If you visit the Brazilian part of the Amazon, you will need to pass Brazilian Customs. And when you fly home, you’ll need to pass through the Customs or any country that you ENTER. A layover doesn’t require you to pass through customs in a country outside of the US as long as you stay in the airport. If you leave, you need to pass through customs and border control of that country. Then the first airport you land in in the US (Miami, Atlanta, whatever it may be) is where you will go through US customs and border protection.

  13. Reply


    May 7, 2023

    Am hoping all goes well as flying back home to Ca from Cancun and never went through customs. Will ask if I have to recheck bags at Cancún. And it’s an American flight. Once I get through DFW I will be good. As have to take skylink from D to A. A little stressful.

  14. Reply


    May 7, 2023

    Hi Greg – very timely, thank you! I see most comments are from Europe to the US. I’m going from Chicago to Athens with a layover in Istanbul. Would we need to clear customs in Istanbul or Athens? Thanks!

    • Reply


      May 9, 2023

      Hey Charlie,

      You would clear customs in Athens.

  15. Reply


    May 9, 2023

    Hi Greg, thank you for your article. It is very helpful.
    My friend will travel from Boston to Tokyo via New York (EWR) (1hr and 50mins. layover). Do you think that it is enough layover time?

    • Reply


      May 9, 2023

      Hi Ripley,

      I think that is plenty of time. That airport is very easy to navigate and your friend should be fine.

  16. Reply


    May 16, 2023

    Hi Greg,

    This is just the article i was looking for. We are traveling from Charlotte to Paris in November and will have layovers both ways. From CLT we will likely have layover in Philly or at JFK both of those options give us about 1 hour layover which i am very concerned about. would love to hear your thoughts. On the way back from Paris our layover options are Heathrow (2 hr layover) or Chicago or PHL w/ 2.5 hour layover. Will we have to go through customs/immigration at Heathrow and deal with getting our luggage? I know we will have to go through customs/get our luggage if we have layover in Chicago or PHL right? Which layover is my best option? thanks so much for this!

    • Reply


      May 22, 2023

      Hi Jill,

      Thanks for reading! Paris – WOW! What a great city. One of our favorites. (Also big Charlotte lovers…I’m a HUGE Panthers fan…)

      1-hour layover in Philly or New York is pretty brief, but doable as long as everything is on time. You won’t have to worry about baggage, so it is more so a matter of transiting through the airport in time. Both of those airports are pretty big, and you might have to hustle a bit. On the way home, both layover options are great. I’d recommend laying over in the US (preferably Philly because it’ll be a shorter flight and smaller line at customs) because it is less of a hassle, in my opinion. 2.5 hours is plenty of time to get through Customs and Immigration in most instances, and going through customs in the US is very easy on a layover. It is a quick process once you actually get through the border. If you do it over your layover, you don’t have to worry about it once you finally get home to Charlotte. London would also be fine, but I prefer to knock out big flight segments earlier in my trips!

  17. Reply


    May 18, 2023

    DisembRking Alaska cruise in Vancouver.
    Our flights are Vancouver to Toronto. Change planes in Toronto to Boston.

    When will we go through customs and will we have to get our luggage in Toronto for customs?
    It is a connecting flight with 2 1/2 hour layover.

    • Reply


      May 22, 2023

      Hi Linda,

      You will not see your bags until you get to Boston, which is also where you will go through Customs. You’ll check them in Vancouver, won’t need to worry about them in Toronto, and will pick them up and go through Customs and Immigration in Boston.

  18. Reply


    May 21, 2023

    This was helpful. I’m travelling from Australia to Green Bay next month and I was told my gags would go straight to my destination. So now I’m questioning that. My first port in the US is LA and I have a 2hour 20 min layover now I’m worried that’s not enough time to clear customs and get to terminal 7 and check bags etc for my connection to Chicago. panic mode. Glad I found this out now!! Thank you

    • Reply


      May 22, 2023

      Hey Tam,

      Two thoughts on this. Firstly, you definitely will need to recheck your bags in LA. Your airline or travel agent must have misspoken, because there’s no chance your bags go straight to Green Bay.
      The good news is that you won’t have to recheck them as you might be imagining. When you land in LA, you will go through border control and then pass into a special connections-only transit area, where you need to pick up your bags, physically walk them though customs, then hand them back off to the airline there. So, there are no long lines and you will not need to proceed to a ticketing counter. This whole process is very quick. As long as the border control is moving smoothly, you should be able to make your flight!

  19. Reply


    May 22, 2023

    Hi Greg,
    Thanks so much for all this helpful info. In a couple of weeks we are flying to Paris and after a few days will fly to Budapest. I think we will have to go thru customs at both places, correct? Later we will be in Prague for a few days. Once we leave Prague we fly to Atlanta with a connecting flight in Paris. On our way home do we go thru customs in Paris? That connection in Paris is 2 hours which concerns me. My wife and I are elderly. Should we consider checking all four bags, rather than just the normal two? Will our bags be checked from Prague all the way to Atlanta? I know we go thru customs in Atlanta before connecting on another flight to NC. We have Global Entry so that should speed us up in Atlanta.

    • Reply


      May 23, 2023

      Hey John,

      What a great trip. It sounds like you will have a blast! You should only need to go through Customs once the entire time in Europe, and that is when you arrive in Paris. The European Union as a whole functions much like the United States as a whole, in that once you are in, you’re in. Just like you don’t need to go through Customs to fly from NC to GA, you don’t need to go through Customs when you fly from France to Hungary. You should be able to check your bags at your home airport and pick them up in Paris, passing through customs there. The rest of your flights (with the exception of the flight from Paris to Atlanta) will function just like domestic flights in the US. Yes, your bags checked in Prague will be checked all the way through to Atlanta with no need to be picked up in Paris. Have a great trip!

  20. Reply


    May 23, 2023

    Thanks so much for your reply, Greg.
    Still concerned about the connecting flight in Paris on the way back. Only have 2hours and air traffic controllers may be on strike. Notice a few minutes ago that the flight scheduled for tomorrow has already posted a delay of 35 minutes–must be in relation to air traffic controllers. Know we have no control over that, so we will definitely not check our carry-ons unless things change as we may have to spend a night in Paris on the way home.
    On top of this a scheduled strike is set for the beginning of our trip near our hotel. Hopefully we won’t have to resort to hotel food:(

  21. Reply


    May 30, 2023

    I’m a little confused. The trip I’m hoping to take would have me leaving Rome, connecting in Munich to arrive at Dulles airport in Virginia. The direct flight is way to expensive. Do I need to do any immigration or customs in Munich? The layover is 1h50m. Thank you

    • Reply


      June 7, 2023

      Hey Sharon,

      You would not need to go through any customs, since both Rome and Munich are in the EU. You would just act as if it were a domestic layover, and you’d simply switch gates. The EU as a whole functions similarly to the US as a whole. I hope you have a great trip!

  22. Reply


    May 31, 2023

    Hi Greg! Thank you so much for sharing.

    I’m a bit confused and am hoping you can help me. My son, 18 years old, is flying to Scotland (from North Carolina) to study abroad. He’s leaving this Friday. I’m really concerned about his return flight. He will leave Edinburgh at 6 am and arrive in Frankfurt at 8:55 am. He’ll then leave Frankfurt at 10:15 am and land in Munich at 11:10 am. Finally, he’ll leave Munich at 12:45 pm to return to Charlotte.

    He’s never flown alone before, and he has never traveled internationally. Will his suitcase need to be rechecked once he arrives at Frankfurt and again in Munich? Will he go through customs for these layovers in Germany? If so, does he have enough time? It looks like he only has an hour and twenty minutes, so I’m beginning to panic and I can’t find another flight option for him.

    Thanks so much for your help! – Jessica

    • Reply


      June 7, 2023

      Hey Jessica,

      Thanks for reading my post and commenting! I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. He will not have to go through customs on these layovers, and he will not have to recheck any suitcases. As long as his flight is all booked on one itinerary and the layovers are short as you specified, he will simply get off one plane and walk to the gate for the next one. He would only really have to go through customs if his ultimate destination were in the EU.

      An hour and 20 minutes is pretty short for a rookie traveler, but he can probably make it work. It shouldn’t be more complicated than just perhaps switching terminals and finding his new gate. All German airports are very navigable for English speakers, so it should be as straightforward as possible for him.

      I hope he has a great semester! We at The Present Perspective are always here to help if he has a rough time or is in need of anything. We love when people embrace opportunities to travel the world, and are always here to answer any questions you might have. Just send us an email!

  23. Reply


    June 5, 2023

    Hi Greg,
    Thank you for your post and willingness to respond to us. I will be traveling to London for a few days, then off to Dublin for a few days. I will be flying into Heathrow Terminal 5 (British Airways) from Dublin, but will need to get to Terminal 2 (United) for my flight back home to the US. I am ready to book my Dublin to Heathrow flight, but wanted to make sure I’ll have enough time to get through security/customs if required. What do you recommend? Traveling in July. I am also hoping not to check my bag. Thanks in advance, Deanna 🙂

    • Reply


      June 7, 2023

      Hey Deanna,

      If you are booking them separately, you will need to go through British customs. I recommend leaving yourself 3 hours or more if possible to make sure that your connection goes smoothly. Heathrow is a massive airport and we have had issues there on several occasions. Otherwise I hope you have a smooth trip, and we are always here to help however we can!

  24. Reply


    June 8, 2023

    Thank you for this article, Greg! My husband and I are moving back to the US, from Gdansk, Poland in late July/early August. We are flying on KLM/Delta, with ATL being our first US city, and Jacksonville, FL being our final destination.

    We are traveling separately, with three checked bags each. We have a 1hour-12-minute layover in ATL. Is this enough time to clear customs? How far away is the checked bag recheck station?

    Thank you for any information you can offer!

    • Reply


      June 13, 2023

      Hey Lori! You lived in Poland? That sounds amazing! I’ve only ever been to Krakow and the surrounding area but that must have been a great experience. Welcome back to the US!

      72 minutes is going to be tight, to be honest. It is doable if the immigration line isn’t too long, but get ready to hustle!

      The baggage rechecking area is literally steps away from the transit baggage claim. You will pass through immigration, proceed to a special baggage claim, and walk about 100 steps to the recheck area, where an agent will take your bags for you and you’ll be free to go. From there you will likely have to switch terminals via the terminal train (easy fast and frequent!) and walk to your gate.

      I’d estimate you only need 15 minutes to get to your gate once you recheck your bags, and the actual rechecking only takes a minute or two, as they’re already tagged for Jacksonville. The key is just going to be how long the immigration line is and how early your plane closes its doors.

  25. Reply


    June 12, 2023

    Hi Greg,
    My wife and I are planning on flying from Toronto to Costa Rica with a layover in Atlanta. Will we need to clear customs and go through baggage claim in Atlanta? We’ll be flying solely with Delta and the schedule layover is only 75 minutes.

    • Reply


      June 13, 2023

      Hi Corey,

      You will likely need to clear customs in Atlanta. I would message the Delta texting hotline to confirm this, but this is how it is supposed to go. The US is a very weird exception when it comes to customs and immigration. The good news is that you will be in a special connecting flights area that moves very quickly and has its own special baggage claim. So while you will need to go through customs and immigration and recheck your bags, it can all be done in about 30 minutes if the lines aren’t terribly long. You’ll immediately go through immigration, which leads directly to a special international transit baggage claim, which leads directly to the customs door, which leads directly to a special international transiting conveyor belt to drop your bags. Its a needless hassle, but you should be fine time-wise.

  26. Reply

    Eric Ralph

    June 15, 2023

    Hello I am flying from Vancouver to Calgary to Atlanta then home to Grand Rapids after I stay in Canada for a week. The layover in Calgary is only an hour; will I go through customs in Vancouver or Calgary? TY so so much!

    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      Hi Eric,

      You go through customs when you enter a country, not when you exit it. So in this example, you will go through US Customs and Immigration when you land in Atlanta. Have a safe trip home!

  27. Reply


    June 16, 2023

    Hi Greg!
    What about when you are making a connection between two international flights? I will be going through JFK in route to Toronto from South America. I am not american citizen. Do I have to clear immigration and customs? My flights arrive and depart from the same terminal. DO you think 4 hours and 40 minutes is enough?


    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      Hi Lana,

      You will have to clear customs and immigration, and you also need a US visa. Even though you aren’t actually entering the US, it requires you to have a valid US visa to transit through the country. 4 hours and 40 minutes is PLENTY of time, though!

  28. Reply

    Ellen Dunster

    June 19, 2023

    Hi, we are looking at flying from CLT to Merida either thru DFW (3hr layover) or IAH (8hr layover). It will be on one ticket.

    Will we clear security, customs and immigration at CLT or DFW/IAH please?

    Many thanks, Ellen

    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      Hi Ellen,

      I’m sorry for my late response! I was out of the country finally taking a true vacation! You will clear Mexican Customs in Merida (beautiful city by the way…have you read my Merida travel guide?). You will then clear US Customs and Immigration in DFW or IAH on the way home.

  29. Reply


    June 26, 2023

    Thank you, Greg! This DEFINITELY helps!

    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      I’m happy to help! Have an awesome trip!

  30. Reply


    June 27, 2023

    Greg…so glad I found your article..this is exactly what I needed and answered all of my questions. A cruise line booked our flights and we fly from Athens Greece to Washington DC and then to Atlanta, but layover is less than 2 hours so hope that is enough time to go through customs and recheck bags.

    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      Hi Sherri,

      Not going to lie to you, that is a really tight window of time. It isn’t impossible at all, and there’s always a chance that two hours is plenty of time. However, I’d really try to have the cruise line change that if at all possible. I mentioned this in response to a very similar comment, but a 2-hour layover really means you have no more than 90 minutes to go from plane to plane, including customs and immigration. On a good day, you can do this. On a bad day, you’re missing that connecting flight.

  31. Reply


    June 27, 2023

    Hey Greg,

    I am traveling next week to the US and my only concern is 2-hour layover in Washington. Do you think it will be enough time to go through customs and baggage recheck?

    • Reply


      June 28, 2023

      Hi Dorothea! That is going to be a very tight window, but it isn’t impossible. Is your layover at Dulles, IAD? Or is it at one of the other two local airports, DCA or BWI? At Dulles, the immigration line moves fairly quickly and the baggage rechecking timeline is pretty fast, but 2 hours is still pretty tight. Remember that the gate usually closes 30 minutes before the connecting flight’s departure time, which really means you have no more than 1.5 hours to go from plane to plane.

  32. Reply


    July 20, 2023


    I’m flying from Florida to Copenhagen on United through Edinburgh. I change to CityJet in Edinburgh. I want to pack frozen steaks in my luggage or carry on. Do you known if I can bring them through customs in Edinburgh still packed in dry ice? I know meat products are not allowed in Great Britain, but these will not be setting foot (so to speak) there. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    • Reply


      July 24, 2023

      Hey Holly,

      Thanks for reading! I don’t know what to tell you, to be honest. I would think that the full Customs code applies, even though you’re clearly headed elsewhere immediately. You might be able to get them through, but I don’t actually have a definitive answer for you. At worst, you could try and just accept the fact that they might not make it!

  33. Reply

    Cindy. Burt

    July 20, 2023

    I have friends arriving at SFO for 4 hrs and flying onward to London. Can I visit with them if they are in transit?

  34. Reply


    July 26, 2023

    This site is a god send. My husband and I are traveling from Iowa, thru Chicago to Edinburgh on United. We will be staying in Scotland for a few days. From Edinburgh we will be traveling to Austria with a layover in Amsterdam, both flights are with KLM. Do we need to collect our baggage in Amsterdam, and go thru immigration? I know Amsterdam and Austria are in the EU, do we need to go thru customs and immigration when we land in Austria? Also I’ve read that Austria requires a written prescription from your doctor when carrying more than 6 days worth of medications. The return trip is a direct flight from Austria to Chicago, do we go through customs in Chicago? Are there any things we need to do when we leave Austria? Thanks you very much, Donna

    • Reply


      July 26, 2023

      Hi Donna! I’m so happy my blog is helpful to you. Please do share with your friends – I’m always happy to help!

      You will go through customs and immigration in Amsterdam, and then not in Austria. The process is relatively quick – I just did it a few months ago in Amsterdam myself. All said and done, it took my family of 3 approximately 40 minutes to clear both customs and immigration. From there, you’ll board to Austria just as if it were a domestic flight in the US, as like you said, both are in the EU. When you land in Austria you’ll just collect your bags and be on your way.

      You didn’t hear this from me, but I doubt anyone will notice if you have more than 6 days of prescription meds. If you are able to get a written prescription, better. But if not, I doubt that is a rule they’d strictly enforce, especially since you’ll be going through customs in a different country.

      On the way home you will go through customs and immigration in Chicago, yes. Then when you continue to Iowa, it will just be a regular domestic flight with no additional measures to be taken. Leaving Austria there’s nothing special that you need to do – they might do a passport check before letting you access your gate area, but that is quick and easy. Please let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you want more free tips!

  35. Reply


    July 26, 2023

    Hey, Greg!

    Your post was so helpful! I am travelling from Japan to Honolulu (layover) to Portland as my final destination. I talked to an online support agent through my airline and they told me that my luggage doesn’t need re-checking in Honolulu and that I don’t have to pass through customs or immigration. I thought that was odd considering your post and other websites stating that it’s required when entering the US internationally, whether you’re a US citizen or not (I am). The agent said that I claim my luggage and go through customs in Portland, my second point of entry rather than Honolulu, which would be my first. Any idea why?

    Thanks again! Your post gave me some relief.


    • Reply


      July 26, 2023

      Hey Trin! Thanks for reading. I’m happy my post was helpful for you.

      To be honest, that sounds weird. There’s no Customs preclearance or anything in Japan, so I’m not sure why they’re telling you that you won’t go through customs until Portland. The only thing I can think of is MAYBE (and I don’t know, because I have never heard of this…) Hawaii doesn’t count as a port of entry since it is not part of the continental United States? That is the only solution I can think of. Maybe it is treated specially since it is not connected by land to anywhere else in the country. That is just a guess.

      Part of me wants to say trust the airline. The other part of me thinks that sounds weird, and I would really think you pass through Customs in Honolulu. I’d say plan to pass through in Honolulu, and if you aren’t directed to pass through immigration, then you’re just safe until Portland. The good news is that you can’t possibly miss Customs and Immigration, if you’re meant to go through them. Your flight will most likely land at an international gate, which will lead right to C&I. If it gets confusing, ask an airport official. They’ll know better than the airline. Safe travels, and thanks for reading!

  36. Reply


    July 30, 2023

    Thanks for the read. We’ll be flying from Barcelona to Amsterdam then to Salt Lake City. Is there any customs process that we’ll have to go through in Amsterdam? We only have an hour and fifteen min. layover in Amsterdam and I’m a little nervous.

    • Reply


      September 18, 2023

      One hour and 15 minutes should be okay. You will have to go through a rapid, light security screening, but there’s no need to pass through customs and immigration. This is just with your carry-on bags. Amsterdam is a very nice airport and they move this screening along in just minutes. Have a safe trip!

  37. Reply


    July 30, 2023

    Hi Greg, We are flying on Qatar airways from Doha to Victoria BC via Seattle. We are on the ground at SEA for 1 hour, providing flights are all on time. Are we required to go through customs when we are not leaving the airport? If we choose to check our luggage in Doha, would it be checked right through to Victoria, or would we have to pick it up first at SEA? Probably not enough time to do that. Thanks

    • Reply


      September 18, 2023

      Hi Wendy! One hour won’t cut it, unfortunately. You will have to pass through US Customs and Immigration and recheck your bags, which will take more than the time you have allotted.

  38. Reply


    August 6, 2023

    Hey, Greg!

    Thank you for the information above, regarding our return to the US from Poland. One thing that surprised our daughters and son, who all came to Poland to visit us before we moved, is that there was NO CUSTOMS form to complete upon their arrival in the US from Europe. They flew into Denver and Chicago, respectively. I also encountered this when I arrived in Detroit. Is this something new that they’re doing? They just asked the basic questions: do you have any fruits or vegetables? Any meats or cheeses? Not really anything else. I didn’t mind it because it saved time trying to figure out values of items purchased, but I wondered if this was a new practice which we can look forward to seeing continue.

    • Reply


      September 18, 2023

      Hey Lori! That is a great observation. I’m not privy to any actual decisions or facts behind this, but I will say I’ve had the same experience. I don’t think I’ve filled one in for several years, including like 15-20 arrivals back to the US!

  39. Reply


    September 2, 2023


    Thanks so much for your post!!
    Understand that as long as its a first entry to US, the connecting flight will require passengers to go through custom and recheck-in of baggage. But would like to ask what about cases where I’m flying from Las Vegas to San Francisco and then to my home country?
    Would I also need to go through custom and recheck-in baggage as well for San Francisco? Since technically I am flying within US for Las Vegas to San Francisco.

    • Reply


      September 18, 2023

      Hi Joelyn! There’s no need to recheck bags on your way OUT of the United States. Just on the way in. If you’re flying from Las Vegas to, say, England with a layover in San Francisco, you won’t have to worry about your bags, or customs and immigration, until you arrive in England. The only exception is if you have another layover in another country before arriving at your home country, which may or may not have different rules.

  40. Reply


    September 17, 2023

    Hi, Greg,
    I just found your very helpful posting. But, still… may i ask you following questions?
    1- My wife & i, both senior citizens in good health (translation: we can walk briskly, LOL) will be flying back Stateside on Nov 1, 2023 from Rome (FCO) to Las Vegas, by way of Dulles IAD. Both legs on UA, United Air.
    2- The layover at IAD is only 1 hour 55 minutes. (YIKE, never again!! I’m so stressed over this!! In future, we’ll make sure layovers of 3 hours or more per your recommendation!)

    Q1- can our luggage be directly checked in at Rome, then picked up at LAS?
    Q2- or, must we pick up our luggage at IAD, then go thru IAD Custom/Immigration?
    Q3- if Q2 is the case, is 1hour 55 minutes sufficient??

    Thank you very much!

    • Reply


      September 18, 2023

      Hey Frank,

      Thanks for reading! I hope you and your wife are excited for your trip to Italy. You’re sure to have a blast!

      You will have to recheck your bags and pass through immigration at IAD. You’ll land in DC, follow the signs to immigration, go through passport control, wait at the special immigration baggage claim for your bags, drop them at the connection counter, and continue to your gate.

      Per your third question…one hour and 55 minutes is cutting it close. There’s a chance that it could be plenty of time…and a chance that it could be too little. It all depends on immigration lines and how long the baggage takes to arrive at the carousel. I’d estimate that immigration and getting your bags rechecked should take between 45-60 minutes unless you have global entry or mobile passport control (I highly recommend both but mobile passport control is free and done via an app on your phone! Skip the line!). Then it is just a matter of getting to your connecting flight. Dulles is a massive airport but if you guys can walk briskly, you should be fine. Remember that the gate to your connecting flight usually closes 30-45 minutes before takeoff, so your 1hr55min layover is actually more like 1hr15 or 1hr30!

      In short, one hour and 55 minutes should normally be fine, but it doesn’t leave room for anything to go wrong. I hope this helps!

  41. Reply


    October 5, 2023

    Hi Greg! Thanks for the information. I was curious because I would have a flight leaving Barcelona with a layover in Madrid then straight to Orlando would I have to go out grab luggage and recheck in Madrid? The layover in Madrid is only 1 hour and I’m worried it wouldn’t be enough time.

    • Reply


      October 12, 2023

      Hey Tamara! No need to recheck in Madrid. You won’t see your bags until Orlando! Have a great trip!

  42. Reply


    October 26, 2023

    Hi Greg, very useful post. I’m still a bit confused as to how it applies to my next trip so I wonder if you could help. You say that “the funky US rule only comes into play when you are arriving in the US from an international flight and then connecting to somewhere else within the US” and I think the latter part of that is good news for me…

    In short, my partner and I live in London (she’s a UK citizen, I’m a Spanish citizen). In March 2024 we will be taking a direct flight from Heathrow to San Francisco with United Airlines – so what we need to do when we get to the US is very clear. A few days later we will be flying out of the US, from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico – we still need to buy the flights for that. And a few days later we will be returning from Cabo San Lucas to London, with United Airlines again, with a short 1h40m stop in Houston… My question is, since the final destination of this inbound flight back to London is not the US, will we need to collect our bags, clear customs/immigration, etc. in Houston? What will the process be?

    Many thanks, have been looking at posts for hours and can’t seem to find the answer!


    • Reply


      February 19, 2024

      Hi Oly! Unfortunately, in Houston you will need to go through the whole ordeal of going through border control, customs, and re-checking your bags in Houston. It doesn’t matter where your final desination is – any layover in the US that originated in another country has to go through this. Have an awesome trip!

  43. Reply


    November 2, 2023

    Hi, Greg,

    I have just discovered this web site.

    I would be very grateful for your help.

    I will be flying from Dulles to Rome with a connection through Heathrow. Then I will be returning from Milan to Dulles with a connection through Heathrow.

    When/where will I need to go through immigration, customs, et cetera?

    Will I need to recheck my bag at Heathrow either time?

    Thank you very much for any advice/information!


    • Reply


      February 19, 2024

      Hi Linda! You will have to go through passport control in Heathrow both times, and then passport control, customs, and baggage claim in both Rome and DC. There is no need to go through Customs or re-check your bags at any point in London. Your bags will go straight through to your final destination each time. In London, it is just a quick check where they scan your passport and boarding pass before letting you into the terminal, and then a quick security line. In my experience, the security line moves faster than in the US, as I also layover in Heathrow from the US A LOT. Have an awesome trip!

  44. Reply


    November 10, 2023

    Hi Greg and thank you for this article, it has been really insightful for me. I do have a question for my upcoming travel: we will be traveling with Delta from Rome to Orlando and have a 1 h 50 mins layover in Boston. From what I have gathered (please correct me if I am wrong or missing something), when we get to Boston we will have to go through customs and documents check, recollect our baggage (we cannot just travel with carry-on unfortunately) and get it checked in again, then change terminal to get to our connection flight (not sure if we have to get through security again, not sure if to check the baggage in we have to get to the other terminal or if there is a way for us to get it checked immediately after we recollect it). I am not sure 1 h 50 mins is long enough, but when I booked the flight I didn’t know I also had to recollect and re-check my baggage (my bad I guess, I should have made my research in advance); what do you say? Do you have any tips for us? Thank you and have a good day!

    • Reply


      February 19, 2024

      Hi Francesca,

      Beautiful name! Siete italiani? Insegniamo l’italiano a nostri figli, perche la famiglia di mia moglie e italiana!

      What you have gathered is correct. One hour and 50 minutes is tight, but probably doable. Remember that the flight boards about 45 minutes before departure, so you really have about an hour. The border may or may not take a while – that is the biggest issue. One through the border, if your bags come promptly, re-checking them only takes seconds and switching terminals in Boston isn’t too bad. If you can, I’d recommend a longer layover. But if it is going to cost you money to change, I’d just stick with what you have and remember to act quickly when you land!

  45. Reply


    November 30, 2023

    This is extremely helpful! We recently flew Edinborough to Toronto, and connected from Toronoto to Columbus, OH. We went through US border control pre-check in Toronto but did not have to collect our luggage. We arrived in Columbus, picked up our bags and were on our way.

    On another trip, we flew Heathrow to Philadelphia and did have to pick up our bags and go through customs and immigration in Philly.

    With so many comments and questions, it’s obvious that these issues need to be explained clearly to travelers. Each confirmation should have a link to an explanation, if that needs to be provided by each country, then do it in a way that is actually readable. It’s not that complicated once laid out simply and succinctly.

    • Reply


      February 19, 2024

      Hey Suzanne,

      I fully agree! It shouldn’t be such a complicated thing. I also think some of the burden should fall on the airlines, as they shouldn’t be allowed to schedule itineraries with such short layovers upon arriving in the US.

  46. Reply


    February 9, 2024

    Hi Greg,

    You have the most comprehensive information on the topic. It was really difficult to find the answers on the wild wild web. I am so glad I found your post before my trip to Europe. I am so stressed out on the connecting domestic flight at EWR when I return from Brussels. With a 8-hour layover, I thought I have to haul my luggage for about 4 hours before I can check them in at the ticket counters. It was a relief to learn about the counters designated for connections from international flights, after going through customs.

    I have two questions which I hope you have time to respond. Thanks in advance.

    1. What is the status on the upcoming preclearance implementation at Brussels (and other European airports)? Wasn’t 2024 the target date for rollout?

    2. Is there always a re-check counter for connections from international flights at each U.S. international airport?

    • Reply


      February 19, 2024

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your kind words! I am to be as helpful and comprehensive as I can. I hope you had an awesome trip!

      To answer your question, I haven’t seen any updates about the additional airports they’re trying to add to pre-clearance. I know both Brussels and Amsterdam were on the list, but I haven’t seen anything recent. That was initially going to happen in 2022, and I think the pandemic initially set the timeline back a little bit. Hopefully soon!

      I think I’d be wrong to say there is a re-check counter for international connections at every airport in the US, but there definitely is one at all of the biggest and busiest ones.

  47. Reply


    March 12, 2024

    I haven’t taken an international flight in many years. I will be taking a cruise in Oct. that originates and returns from Rome.
    My flights are as follows:
    Cleveland to Toronto to Rome

    Return Flights:
    Rome to Montreal to Dulles to Cleveland.

    All flights are on Air Canada except for the Dulles to Cleveland.

    After reading your article I just want to verify the following:
    1). Will have to go through customs in Toronto but not Rome?
    2). Will have to retrieve luggage in Toronto to recheck it for flight to Rome?
    3). Will have to go through customs in Montreal?
    4). Will have to retrieve luggage in Montreal to recheck it for flight to Dulles?
    5). Will have to go through customs in Dulles
    6). Will have to retrieve luggage in Dulles to recheck it for flight to Cleveland?
    7). Global Entry will expedite customs in Canada & Dulles?
    8). MPC will expedite customs from Canada to Dulles?
    Thank You in advance!

  48. Reply

    Sonny Diduch

    March 26, 2024

    Hi, Some great information you have here. I am Canadian, flying from Toronto to Tokyo with a connection in Newark. Will I have to go through customs or Immigration in Newark before getting on my connecting flight to Tokyo? On the return from Tokyo to Toronto my connection is in Chicago and I was told that I have to go through customs and Immigration in Chicago before getting on my connecting flight to Toronto. Is that correct? All flights are with United and I won’t have any checked baggage.
    Thanks for your help.

  49. Reply

    Vittorio P.

    April 27, 2024

    Dear Greg,
    Great to read your article, since my daughter (just 15 y/o)has to fly to Hartford BDL (CT) from Venice (Italy), via Atlanta next Summer, then back home in few weeks. Still to buy the ticket (likely with Delta). In both cases layover seems sufficient (3h 20 min). My question(s) is (are) related to the when and where she has to re-check luggage in both of the trips:
    1) Is she passing customs in Atlanta and then re-check for BDL? Is that a speedy or lengthy process?
    2) On the way back, is she going through customs in BDL or ATL? And what about luggage? Can she check it in BDL only or also in ATL, and then pick it in Venice?
    Thanks in advance for whatever feedback you may share.

  50. Reply

    Doug Jackson

    May 4, 2024

    Hi Greg,

    Ok going from SGN to manila 2 and a 1/2 hour layover then to LAX Philippines airlines all the way do I need to go through customs or immigration or anything or do I just wait my next flight?

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Meet The Author - Greg

Hi, I'm Greg. I'm an avid traveler who has traveled to over 50 countries all around the world with my wife and kids. I've lived in Italy, Mexico, China, and the United States, and I dream of moving abroad again in the future. With this blog, I provide my audience with detailed destination guides to my favorite places and pro-tips to make travel as stress-free as possible.