Landing at YVR Airport as a Newcomer

You long to hear the words “Welcome to Canada!”. You already packed your bags and booked your flight.  Reality is now setting in.  What should you expect at the airport? 

Arriving at your new home is both exciting and stressful. I know because I’ve been in that situation. So, in this blog, I will share the major steps that you have to go through when landing at YVR Airport as a newcomer.

Plane About to Land at YVR Airport
Plane About to Land at YVR Airport

Customs Declaration

The first major hurdle after landing in YVR is the customs declaration. After you exit the plane, follow the signs that lead to Customs & Immigration.

There will be separate lines for Canadian citizens and non-Canadian citizens. Make sure to line up with other non-Canadian citizens on the right.      

Customs declaration includes scanning your passport to confirm your identity, taking your photo, and making an on-screen declaration at a primary inspection kiosk.  The kiosk will generate a CBSA receipt once you completed the online form. Take this receipt and present this to a border services officer at the point of immigration.

If you ever get confused, an officer stationed by the kiosk entrances is available to answer questions. 

Arrivals Hall at YVR Airport
Arrivals Hall at YVR Airport

Immigration Interview Process

Proceed to the Immigration Hall and line up for your interview with a CBSA officer.  During the interview, the officer will:

  • Ask to see your passport or travel document, Confirmation of Permanent Residence (COPR), and CBSA Declaration,
  • Conduct an interview, and
  • Grant permanent residence upon discretion.


Make sure that relevant documents are in your carry-on bag.

Have an itemized list of how much money you are bringing with you, the currency, and the medium. When I was asked this question, I just showed my list to the officer. He was impressed and did not give me a hard time.

The line-up and interview can take up to four hours to complete.  Make sure to consider this if you are destined for another Canadian city.

Landing at YVR Airport

Collect your Luggage at the Baggage Claim Area

The conveyor belt number where you can collect your luggage is usually announced shortly after your flight lands. If you missed the announcement, you can always check the screen display by the carousels.


The immigration process takes a while so you may find your belongings near the baggage carousel when you are ready to collect these.

Immigration Hall

Leave the Airport  (Yay!)

Follow the signs that say exit & greeting area, ground transportation, or hotel. 

Newcomers who are fortunate to have family or friends in the city will most likely be picked up at the airport.  Your loved ones will probably be waiting for you at the greeting area, which is located on the left before the final exit door.  They may also pick you up at the passenger pickup area outside the airport.

If you need a cab or ride share, you will have to go left after you leave the airport.  Ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, or KABU are available in Metro Vancouver.  You may use the airport’s Wi-Fi to connect to the internet.  Passengers are advised to collect their luggage first before booking a ride.  I believe that this is to avoid congestion.  Anyway, the Ride App drivers’ designated waiting area at YVR is only a few minutes away.  After my last domestic trip, I only waited for 4 minutes for my ride.

Transportation from YVR

If you need to rent a car, several options are available for you.  You may choose between Hertz, Thrifty Car, Budget Car, Avis, and others.

You may also opt to take a train to the city. The Canada Line will get you from YVR to downtown Richmond in less than 20 minutes and downtown Vancouver in less than 30 minutes.  The trains are designed for passengers with luggage.  However, if you need to transfer to the Expo Line or the Millenium Line, the ride won’t be as comfortable if you have huge bags.

I hope this post will help you set your expectations and prepare for landing at YVR Airport.  Soon, you will hear the words “Welcome to Canada!”

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