The Process for International Arrivals
International flights arrive at the South Satellite. Passengers first clear Passport Control and then pick up their checked luggage and proceed to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Passengers then can recheck their bags and either proceed through security screening for connecting flights, or transport via subway to the Main Terminal Baggage Claim to collect their bags.
The CBP process can take 30 to 60 minutes or longer during peak periods when multiple international flights arrive.
Passengers may use self-service Automated Passport Control kiosks
Instead of filling out a declaration card and taking their travel documents to a CBP officer, passengers who are eligible and choose to use Automated Passport Control (APC) may proceed directly to a self-service kiosk in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Passport Control area.
Using the kiosks
Travelers follow the on-screen instructions to scan their passport or qualifying document, answer the customs declaration questions using the touch screen, receive a receipt confirming their information and proceed to the CBP officer to finalize processing. The kiosks allow up to eight people residing at the same address to be processed together. Eligibility includes U.S. and most Canadian citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and E.S.T.A travelers returning to the USA.
In addition, Sea-Tac Airport is happy to offer Mobile Passport Control experience. U.S. and most Canadian citizens are eligible to use a smart phone app instead of the APC kiosks. This method of entry is very quick and allows most users to bypass the lines.
Watch a video of the self-service Automated Passport Control process
The process for international arrivals connecting to other flights
After arriving at the South Satellite, international passengers first process through Passport Control, claim their luggage and clear CBP. Passengers connecting to other flights must recheck their luggage and go through TSA security screening before heading to their connecting flights. Note: Passengers with liquid duty-free items must put them in their checked luggage or they will be confiscated at the security checkpoint.
Meeting arriving passengers
Passengers from international flights arrive at the South Satellite, or S gates. It typically takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes to clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection, though it may take longer during peak periods when multiple flights arrive at once.
The best places to meet arriving international passengers are either at the escalator between carousels 7 and 8 on the Baggage Claim level where international travelers first come up to Baggage Claim, or at Carousel 1 where they pick up their checked luggage.
If you park at the Sea-Tac Airport parking garage, park in the yellow or green sections at the south end of the garage.
Contact your airline for directions on how early to arrive for your flight. Most airlines recommend arriving a minimum of three hours prior to departure.