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International Arrivals and Passport Control

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

Welcome to Seattle, Washington!

We hope you enjoyed the view on your way in to the Pacific Northwest! Now that you've landed, here's the four steps that internationally arriving passengers need to know to clear customs at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)!

Step 1. Step 2. Step 3. Step 4. Step 4. 

Passport Control Process

Passport and Boarding Pass

Claim All of Your Luggage

Passengers with luggage

Agriculture and Baggage Inspection

Inspection

Transfer for Connecting Passengers or

Airplane

Exit to Seattle, Baggage Claim, and Ground Transportation

Seattle

See an expanded, printable version of the Passport Control Process Map at SEA Airport.

Traveler Alert: Changes due to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19 the international arrivals protocols have changed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is conducting enhanced screening on all internationally arriving passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Effective Jan. 26, the CDC expanded negative COVID-19 test requirement to all air passengers entering the United States. Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19, with this screening the use of facial recognition for the customs process will also begin to take place. U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning to the U.S. are directed to self-quarantine. Recommended precautions include stay home for 14 days after arrival, self-monitor for symptoms, avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe illness, and follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop. Find more information on COVID-19 Testing and Travel Requirements.

Before you Arrive

All International flights arrive at the South Satellite where all connecting and non-connecting passengers must process through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before entering​ the United States of America. This includes an inspection/interview by CBP Officers, claiming all checked luggage, and then either exiting to Seattle or transferring to connecting flights for passengers going to their final destination.

Processing can take 60 minutes or longer during peak periods, such as holidays and summer travel season, when multiple international flights arrive daily, typically between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific DST. When scheduling connections from an international flight at SEA we recommend that you schedule enough time for processing to prevent missed connections for your next boarding times. Find more information on traveling with a tight connection and the Express Connection Program at SEA Airport.

Step 1. Passport Control Process

After deplaning and entering the federal arrivals corridor you may have to wait to enter the Passport Control Level. Passengers will exit the arrivals corridor down either an escalator or elevator and find three different processing areas depending on citizenship and purpose for travel. To help speed up the process and be prepared, know which processing area to go to. The processing areas are:

Area 1: Self-Serve Automated Passport Control Kiosks (APCs)

  • U.S. Citizens
  • U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Canadian Citizens (in Transit)

Area 2:  Passport Control Booth with a CBP Officer

  • ESTA – First time to the USA or traveling on a New Passport
  • ESTA  – Returning or have traveled to the USA before (B1 Travel/B2 Business Visas)
  • Visitors traveling on a U.S. VISA

Booth #30: Passport Control Booth with a CBP Officer

Facial Recognition: Declaration Forms

  • If you are an arriving international passenger from the United States, you can also opt-out; tell the CBP agent no and you will be processed in the traditional manner. However, if you are an arriving foreign national, you will be required to participate in facial recognition processing.

  • CBP has utilized facial recognition technology to confirm the identity of a limited number of international travelers departing from SEA using this technology to confirm the identities of international passengers arriving and departing international passengers will expand to almost all flights. Facial recognition processing is voluntary for almost all SEA travelers! You have the option to opt out.

International Trusted Traveler Programs: Dedicated kiosks

Step 2. Claim Luggage

Once travelers exit passport control, they MUST CLAIM their luggage in the South Satellite's baggage claim, regardless of whether the passenger is staying in Seattle or transferring to another connecting flight.

Passenger's can claim their luggage at one of the four baggage claim carousels located downstairs from the passport control level. Airlines will organize any overflow luggage next to the carousels and oversized luggage will be placed near Claim 30 and the elevators. Travelers should not open their luggage until after they exit the South Satellite's baggage claim. Luggage carts are available free of charge until Step 4.

Step 3. Agriculture and Baggage Inspection

After passengers complete passport control and claiming their luggage, passengers should keep all documents out and ready for the CBP Officer. Passengers may go through agriculture or baggage inspection by a CBP Officer, especially if a they claim food. If passengers are not inspected, the CBP Officer will take their receipt if they have been stamped clear. Some International Trusted Traveler Programs allow passengers to bypass or have a reduced wait time for agriculture and baggage inspection. For more information on what agriculture products are allowed into the United States see CBP's guidelines. Global Entry will have its own line for exiting, all other cleared passengers will go in another line for exiting.

Step 4. Transfer for Connecting Passengers

Rechecking Luggage: Upon exiting CBP's agriculture and baggage inspection, connecting passengers will go left (following the orange walls) and check their luggage for the next flight. Agents from Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines will be available to help passengers recheck and re-book any connecting flights if needed. If transferring to other airline carriers you will exit and recheck your bags at your airline's ticketing counter on the pre-secure side of SEA.

TSA Screening: All connecting passengers must go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening for domestic flights* passengers will have to exit to the pre-security side of the airport and re-screen through one of the main security checkpoints.

Getting to Your Next Flight: Once cleared through TSA's screening, passengers will take the train to connect to all gates and the rest of the terminal through the A Concourse train station. Passenger can access all gates and connect to B, C, D and N gates and passengers with the trains and walking around the terminal. Once passengers arrived to the A Concourse train station from the South Satellite they can go up the escalators or elevators for the A or B Gates or take the other trains to the other end of the airport to go to D and N Gates. For help navigating around the terminal and information on dining and retail, please see our interactive map.

Step 4.  Exit to Seattle, Baggage Claim, and Ground Transportation

Leaving Customs: Travelers staying in Seattle will exit to the right (following the green walls) after clearing CBP and will return complimentary luggage carts. Medium and large luggage should be placed on the belt and can be claimed at Baggage Claim 1 in the baggage claim level of the terminal.

Going to Baggage Claim: Passengers will take the train and exit on the first stop at the A Concourse train station and go up the escalators or elevators for baggage claim. Once off the train passengers will exit between Baggage Claims 7 and 8. International passengers can claim their luggage at Baggage Claim 1 and meet any friends and family.

Transportation: Learn more about ground transportation options including Link light rail, app based ride shares, rental vehicles, shuttles, taxis, and other forms of transportation at SEA Airport. For help navigating around the terminal and information on dining and retail, please see our interactive map.

International Arrivals and Passport Control Process Map

See an expanded, printable version of the Passport Control Process Map at SEA Airport.

International Arrivals MapInternational Arrivals Map

Related to International Arrivals and Passport Control

Documents for International Arrivals and Passport Control

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