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Clearing Customs/Immigration - DFW to Edinburgh with layover at Heathrow

I'll be flying from DFW to Edinburgh with a layover in Heathrow and am not clear when I will go through passport/immigration and customs. Is it when I arrive in London or when I arrive in Edinburgh? I read that if my baggage is checked to my final destination, I won't go through customs until I arrive at my final destination (Edinburgh), but what about immigration/passport? And what if I don't check a bag? I likely will not check a bag and am not clear if that makes a difference. Trying to figure out if 2.5 hours is enough time. Thank you!

Posted by
5355 posts

You go through immigration at your first point of entry, ie Heathrow. You can follow the domestic connection route which means you go through a separate facility from those with London as their final destination. You will need to go through airport security as well.

Posted by
23428 posts

Marco is correct. Passport control in London and customs in Edinburgh. Customs is nothing -- just walk through the green door --- Nothing to Declare. Much worse returning to the US.

Posted by
19 posts

nap, we just did the same thing from DFW a month ago, except Glasgow was our final destination. The other replies say what we found to be true too.
Security is what'll take the longest when you get to Heathrow, but 2.5 hours should be enough. Our layover was 1.5 hours...just barely enough but we hurried to security.
Just a heads up if you didn't know that Terminal 5 is actually more than one building. Once deplaning, look for the purple "Flight Connections" signs and follow them. Assuming you land where we did, the signs will take you to a short train ride, some escalators (or elevator if needed), etc before you get to security in the main Terminal 5 building.
Have an awesome trip!

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you, Marco, Frank, Frank II and AliB! I really appreciate your answers and tips! I feel better now about finalizing the flights. Regards to you all.

Posted by
358 posts

Immigration/passport control always takes place when arriving in a new country, regardless of whether that is your final destination or not.

You might not require security checks if transferring in the same terminal - it depends on the exact route you take through the airport. If you change terminals you will need security. We do via LHR bounces multiple time a year and same terminal transfers seem to be about 50/50 as to whether security checks are needed.

Customs occurs when you are no longer in transit so on exiting the controlled areas. Having checked baggage has no bearing on that.

If you buy one ticket, it's their responsibility to allow enough time - they tend to be a bit more flexible this way round as there are multiple LHR to EDI flights a day so they can always push you to the next one

Posted by
15552 posts

The rule at Heathrow is if you are coming from a non-UK destination, and connecting to another flight, you have to go through security.

Posted by
50 posts

Everyone above is correct. I actually included the info below in my trip documents so I wouldn't mess it up, but it is very clearly marked at Heathrow!

When we arrive in Heathrow:
Follow the purple Flight Connections signs. At one point they will split; go to the one for the UK and Ireland. This is passport control for UK connections. It shouldn't take long.
From there, go through security again. After security, you are in the main terminal area. Go find our gate.
Allow time as there are two satellite buildings that are connected by tram. Most domestic flights leave from the main terminal 5. (We’ll probably arrive at Terminal 5, satellite B or C.)

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you jgdh, Frank II and emmye! I'm saving all of these notes and will make sure I have them handy when I travel.