Traveling to the U.S. from abroad this summer? Wondering what to expect at international airports, cruise terminals and land border ports of entry?
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—the U.S. agency charged with providing security at points of entry—issued guidance for summer travelers today.
The good news came first:
“The United States has been and continues to be a welcoming country and CBP remains committed to facilitating lawful travel to the United States,” said Acting Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a news release explaining the guidance.
But reading the guidance further, things get pretty complicated…
Along with the usual advice (e.g., to have your passport on your person rather than packing it in a suitcase; to declare gifts; to not enter the country with any prohibited merchandise and obtain a special permit for restricted merchandise; to not enter with agricultural products that could harbor pests; and to carry no more than 90 days of prescribed medication in original containers), a number of other requirements are mentioned that require research before arrival.
- Visitors need to find out about country-specific visa requirements to travel to the U.S. See: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html.
- Visitors need to familiarize themselves with the Automated Passport Control (APC) and Mobile Passport Control programs that allow travelers to submit information at 49 airports worldwide via smartphone or tablet prior to arrival. (The Mobile Passport app can also be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.)
- To speed up entry at land borders, CBP suggests applying and paying for an I-94 application seven days prior to arrival. The form is required by all persons except U.S. Citizens, returning resident aliens, aliens with immigrant visas, and most Canadian citizens visiting or in transit.
- To speed up access at land ports of entry, obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document to use a Ready Lane.
Any way to make this stuff easier?
CDB urges travelers to join the ranks of a Trusted Traveler program (like Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI) to expedite the CBP “processing experience.”
The bottom line:
Travelers to the U.S. are warned to expect “heavy traffic,” and to plan ahead to save time and reduce stress.
Not stated explicitly: You’ll need to do a lot of “homework” to understand the rules!
Read all the rules in detail on the Customs and Border Patrol Website: Know Before You Visit