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International Arrivals and Passport Control

Welcome to Seattle, Washington!

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

All International flights arrive at the International Arrivals Facility (IAF) 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 claiming all checked luggage, an inspection/interview by CBP Officers, and then either exiting to Seattle or transferring to connecting flights for passengers going to their final destination.

Before you arrive, make sure you have enough time!

Processing can take 60 minutes or longer during peak periods, such as holidays and the summer travel season, when multiple international flights arrive daily, typically between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time. When scheduling connections from an international flight we recommend that you schedule at least 3 hours between arriving and your next flight to have enough time for processing and to prevent missed connections for your next boarding times.

Deplaning and Amenities

Passport Control Process for Internationally Arriving Passengers

International flights arrive at the airport at two concourses. If you’re flying on an international airline - you will arrive on the S Concourse. If you’re on a domestic carrier like Delta or Alaska in a narrowbody aircraft – you will arrive at the A Concourse. All passengers join up at the International Corridor where they will follow the signs to enter the United States before continuing to baggage claim and customs processing. On your way to customs, you’ll enter the Welcome Portal. This is also where will find restrooms, nursing suites, baggage information systems, and Service Animal Relief Areas. Make sure to check your assigned baggage claim by your airline and origin city in the overhead signage since you’ll have to claim your bags before you enter Passport Control.

Members of Trusted Traveler Programs, such as Global Entry and NEXUS, will grab their bags on baggage claim before heading down to passport control and booths 1 to 3. See more information about International Trusted Traveler Programs to help expedite your passport control process!

Claim Luggage

The IAF is a bag’s first facility! Travelers must claim their luggage at their assigned baggage claim, regardless of whether the passenger is staying in Seattle or transferring to another connecting flight. There are 7 baggage carousels, the claims are numbered from 24 to 18. Passengers can claim their luggage at one of the seven baggage carousels located downstairs from the mezzanine level. Luggage carts are available free of charge to be used throughout the passport control process. Any oversized luggage will be available to claim near Baggage Carousel 20. CBP requires travelers to not open their luggage until after they have cleared through U.S. Customs or have exited the IAF.

Passport Control Process

After claiming your luggage, passengers can head to passport control near Baggage Carousel 18. There are different processing lanes depending on your citizenship and purpose for travel. To help speed up the process and be prepared, know which processing area to go to. If you need assistance to determine what area to go to, we have airport staff there to help! Booths from 1 to 40 will vary and be available with screens above for directions. 

Travelers with Global Entry will use the kiosks on the mezzanine level above the baggage claim level. Once completed there is no receipt needed and you can continue to claim your luggage and go to the dedicated Global Entry booths in passport control. If you have any questions regarding the process or requirements, please contact CBP at (206) 214-2200. 

The processing areas are:

  • U.S. Citizens
  • U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents
  • Canadian Citizen
  • Mobile Passport Control, a free-to-use program for U.S. and Canadian Citizens 
  • Flight Crew
  • 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 VISA
  • U.S. Military (for Military personnel traveling with a Military ID on Orders only)
  • International Trusted Traveler Programs like Global Entry/NEXUS/SENTRI members
  • Wheelchair Assistance/Accessible (for all disabilities)

Facial Recognition: Declaration Forms

CBP has utilized facial recognition technology to confirm the identity and expedite the passport control process. Facial recognition processing is voluntary for almost all SEA travelers, with the option to opt-out for U.S. Citizens. 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.

Once you’ve been interviewed and approved by CBP, you can exit with your luggage to the left. If referred to secondary screening, please follow the CBP Officer’s directions and head to the right for further inspection and questioning. For more information on what agriculture products are allowed into the United States, see CBP's guidelines.

Transfer for Connecting Passengers

After exiting passport control, passengers will go right (following the wood wall) and recheck 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 to the left and recheck your bags at your airline's ticketing counter on the pre-secure side of SEA.

All connecting passengers must go through Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening for flights. The TSA Checkpoint in the IAF is open and available for connecting passengers from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Once cleared through TSA's screening, passengers will be in the A Concourse and can get to their next gate. Passengers can access all gates and connect to the trains and walk around the terminal.

Need some directions? Our Pathfinder team at the A Concourse Information Desk is able to help or you can also use our interactive map for help navigating around the terminal and finding dining and retail options.

Exit to Seattle and Ground Transportation

Travelers staying in Seattle will exit to the left (following the window walls) after clearing customs with their luggage and be pre-security for meeting and greeting friends and family or head to one of their preferred 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

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