If you’re traveling internationally and connecting to a domestic flight in the US, you’ll have to navigate customs and immigration to transfer planes.

This process can be tricky, especially at a major hub like LAX which handles thousands of passengers daily.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer:

At LAX, all international passengers must pass through customs and immigration before transferring to domestic flights, even if they are not leaving the airport.

Be sure to follow signs and allow sufficient time between flights.

In this detailed guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about transferring from an international to a domestic flight at LAX.

You’ll learn about navigating terminals, clearing customs and immigration, airport services, and tips for a smooth transfer experience.

Arriving at LAX on an International Flight

Terminals and Airlines

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is one of the busiest airports in the world, serving as a major hub for international travel.

It is important to know which terminal your airline operates from before your flight arrives. LAX has nine terminals, each serving different airlines.

If you are unsure about which terminal your airline operates from, you can check the official LAX website or use the airport’s interactive map.

It is recommended to familiarize yourself with the terminal layout before your arrival to ensure a smooth transition from your international flight to your domestic one.

Disembarking Process

Once your international flight lands at LAX, you will proceed through the disembarking process. This process may vary depending on your airline and the terminal you arrive at.

Generally, passengers are required to complete immigration and customs procedures before continuing to their domestic flight.

After disembarking, follow the signs for immigration and customs.

Be prepared to present your passport, visa, and any other required documentation to the immigration officers.

Customs officers will then inspect your luggage and ask you questions regarding your trip.

It is important to answer truthfully and declare any items that may require further inspection.

Once you have cleared immigration and customs, you will need to collect your checked luggage if applicable.

Follow the signs for baggage claim and locate the carousel assigned to your flight. If you have any connecting flights, you may need to recheck your luggage before proceeding to your domestic flight.

After collecting your luggage and clearing customs, follow the signs for connecting flights or domestic terminals.

If you have a significant amount of time between your international and domestic flights, you may have the opportunity to explore the airport or grab a bite to eat.

However, if your connection is tight, it is recommended to proceed directly to your next terminal to avoid any delays.

Clearing Customs and Immigration

When transferring from an international to a domestic flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), clearing customs and immigration is an important step to ensure a smooth transition.

Here’s what you need to know about the required procedures and options available to expedite the process.

Required procedures

Upon arrival at LAX, passengers on international flights will need to follow the necessary steps to clear customs and immigration.

This includes presenting your passport, completing a customs declaration form, and going through the immigration checkpoint.

It is essential to have all necessary travel documents readily available and accurately completed to avoid any delays or complications.

During the customs process, you may be asked to declare any items you are bringing into the country, such as goods exceeding the duty-free allowance or certain restricted items.

It’s important to be honest and transparent during this process to avoid any legal consequences.

Once you have cleared customs and immigration, you will need to collect your checked baggage and proceed to the designated area for connecting flights.

Be sure to check the information boards or consult airport staff for directions to your next departure gate.

Global Entry and CBP Trusted Traveler programs

If you frequently travel internationally and want to expedite the customs and immigration process, you may consider enrolling in programs such as Global Entry or CBP Trusted Traveler programs.

These programs offer pre-screening and expedited clearance for low-risk travelers, allowing you to bypass the regular customs and immigration lines.

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that provides expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

With Global Entry, you can use automated kiosks to complete your customs and immigration process upon arrival at LAX, significantly reducing wait times.

The CBP Trusted Traveler programs, including NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST, offer similar benefits for travelers who frequently cross the U.S. borders by land or sea.

These programs provide expedited clearance for pre-screened, low-risk travelers, making the process faster and more convenient.

To enroll in these programs, you will need to complete an online application, undergo a background check, and attend an in-person interview.

Once approved, you will receive a membership card or a Global Entry ID that you can use for expedited clearance at LAX and other participating airports.

It’s important to note that while these programs can significantly speed up the customs and immigration process, they do not guarantee expedited security screening or access to dedicated immigration lanes.

However, they can still save you valuable time and make your transfer experience at LAX more efficient.

Transferring to Your Domestic Departure Terminal

Airport maps and signs

When transferring from an international to a domestic flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), it’s important to familiarize yourself with the airport’s layout.

LAX is a large and busy airport, so having a good understanding of the terminal locations and signage can help ensure a smooth transition.

Upon arrival, look for clear signs indicating the direction to your domestic departure terminal.

LAX has nine passenger terminals, labeled with letters from A to E, and from TBIT (Tom Bradley International Terminal) to Terminal 8.

Airport maps are available online and at information kiosks throughout the airport, so be sure to grab one to help you navigate your way efficiently.

Additionally, LAX has implemented color-coded signs to aid passengers in finding their way. Look for the color corresponding to your departure terminal, and follow the signs accordingly.

This can save you time and minimize any confusion.

Transportation options

Once you have determined your domestic departure terminal, it’s important to consider the transportation options available to get you there.

LAX offers several convenient methods of transportation, catering to the diverse needs of its passengers.

If you have limited mobility or heavy luggage, utilizing the airport’s complimentary shuttle service can be a great option.

These shuttles run frequently between the terminals, allowing you to easily transfer from one terminal to another. Look for the shuttle signs located outside each terminal.

For those who prefer a quicker and more direct option, using a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft can be a convenient choice.

These services are readily available at LAX and can take you directly to your domestic departure terminal without any stops along the way.

If you prefer public transportation, LAX is well-connected to the city’s metro system.

The Metro Green Line offers a direct connection to the airport, allowing you to easily transfer to your domestic departure terminal. Check the metro schedule and plan your journey accordingly.

Lastly, if you have your own vehicle, LAX provides ample parking facilities. Depending on the duration of your trip, you can choose from short-term or long-term parking options.

Be sure to check the rates and availability in advance to ensure a hassle-free parking experience.

Allowing time for connections

When transferring from an international to a domestic flight at LAX, it’s crucial to allow ample time for your connection.

International flights often require additional time for customs and immigration procedures, so it’s important to factor this into your overall travel plans.

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to allow at least two to three hours between your international arrival and domestic departure at LAX.

This will give you enough time to collect your luggage, clear customs, and make your way to the domestic terminal without feeling rushed.

However, it’s always a good idea to check with your airline for specific recommendations and guidelines.

Some airlines may have their own minimum connection times, which you should take into consideration when planning your itinerary.

By allowing sufficient time for connections, you can reduce stress and ensure a seamless transfer from your international flight to your domestic departure terminal at LAX.

Checking-In and Boarding Your Domestic Flight

Locating your airline

Once you arrive at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the first step in checking-in for your domestic flight is to locate your airline’s terminal. LAX has nine terminals, each serving different airlines.

It’s important to check your airline’s website or your ticket for the terminal number before heading to the airport.

This will save you time and help you navigate the airport more efficiently. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask airport staff for assistance.

Online, kiosk, and counter check-in

Most airlines offer online check-in options, allowing you to check-in for your domestic flight before arriving at the airport.

This can save you valuable time and avoid long queues at the check-in counters.

Simply visit your airline’s website or use their mobile app to complete the check-in process.

You can usually select your seat, add any additional services, and receive your boarding pass electronically.

If you prefer, you can also use the self-service kiosks available at the airport to check-in and print your boarding pass.

However, if you have any special requests or need assistance, it’s best to check-in at the airline’s counter where their staff can provide personalized service.

TSA security screening

Before boarding your domestic flight, you’ll need to go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening.

This process ensures the safety of all passengers and includes a variety of procedures such as removing your shoes, placing your carry-on items in bins for X-ray screening, and passing through a metal detector or body scanner.

To make this process smoother, it’s recommended to follow the TSA’s guidelines regarding liquids, gels, and prohibited items in your carry-on luggage.

Additionally, consider wearing easily removable shoes and avoiding clothing with excessive metal details to expedite the screening process.

Remember to have your boarding pass and identification readily available for TSA officers to check.

Services and Amenities at LAX

When transferring from an international to domestic flight at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), it’s important to know about the various services and amenities available to make your journey as comfortable and convenient as possible.

LAX is one of the busiest airports in the world, so having access to dining options, lounges, and hotels can greatly enhance your travel experience.

Dining and shopping

LAX offers a wide range of dining options to suit every taste and preference. From fast food chains to upscale restaurants, there is something for everyone.

Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a leisurely meal, you’ll find a variety of cuisines to choose from.

Additionally, LAX boasts an array of shops where you can indulge in some retail therapy.

From designer boutiques to duty-free stores, you’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to electronics and souvenirs.


If you’re looking for a more comfortable and private space to relax before your next flight, LAX has several lounges that offer various amenities.

These lounges provide a quiet and peaceful environment away from the hustle and bustle of the airport.

Some lounges offer complimentary food and beverages, comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and even shower facilities. Access to these lounges may be available through airline loyalty programs or by purchasing a day pass.


If you have a layover or an early morning flight, staying at a hotel near LAX can be a great option.

There are numerous hotels located within close proximity to the airport, offering convenience and comfort.

Many of these hotels provide complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport, making it easy to transfer between your international and domestic flights.

Some hotels even offer day-use rooms, allowing you to rest and freshen up before continuing your journey.


Transferring between international and domestic flights at LAX can seem daunting.

By understanding the step-by-step process, utilizing airport services, and allowing ample time, you can make your connection smooth and stress-free.

With the tips in this guide, you’ll know exactly what to expect for a seamless transfer experience at LAX.

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