Clearing US customs without a hitch or long delay is a must for anyone who has just landed on an intercontinental flight. Going on vacation should not seem like a chore, but unfortunately it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress for holidaymakers who don’t know the best ways of clearing US customs. It can be stressful to pass through US customs because of their rules and regulations due to terrorism threats as well as the usual border controls, and legal issues of what is and isn’t allowed into the country. Continue reading for some tips for clearing US customs as quickly and hassle-free as possible.
1. Have Your Travel Documents Ready
Clearing US customs will be much quicker and easier if you have your travel documents ready before entering the queue. The documents you will need to re-enter the US will vary depending on where you have been, and the length of your visit. Your flight attendants will have given you forms to complete before landing. Have your passport and other documents ready, to ensure that you can pass through US customs without having to search in your luggage for the paper – you’ll annoy those waiting behind you, and most likely annoy the person checking your passport!
2. Declare Your Items
One way to ensure you clear US customs is to declare all of the items that you purchased abroad and intend to bring back into the United States. The items may be subject to duty fees, and you’ll pass through a lot quicker if you have clearly declared all of the items you intend to bring back. It’s also best to declare duty free items too, as although these will not incur a charge, you may be held up if they aren’t declared. You must ensure that you have declared items for re-sale properly, as they will incur a charge with customs officials – if they are for personal use, then they will usually be free of charge.
3. Only Bring Back Safe Items
Although this will depend where you have been on vacation, you should always check that you are bringing back safe and legal items into the United States. Having counterfeit items or those that could be potentially illegal or unsafe, can cause you problems with airport security and customs, so just be sensible with your buying choices.
4. Restricted and Prohibited
One of the reasons that clearing US customs can take so long is that people are unsure of what items are classed as ‘restricted’ and what items are classed as ‘prohibited’. Counterfeit items, ivory and tortoise shell are just three of the things that are prohibited, meaning that under no circumstances can they be brought onto US soil. You can check the State Department website for information on what materials are prohibited and which are only restricted.
You will need to check if any medication you have purchased while on vacation is legal within the United States. If the medication has not been approved by the FDA, then you will not be allowed to bring it back into the country. Also, remember not to bring more medication with you when travelling than you need; excessive quantities will cause questions to be asked about why you are travelling with such a large quantity of medication.
6. Cuban Products
Under no circumstances can products made in Cuba be brought into the United States. You will have a lot of hassle with customs officers if you try to pass through with any Cuban items, regardless of where you bought them.
The United States has very strict laws on which perishable products can be brought through customs, so be sure to check that you are not bringing any food through that is not permitted.
The CBP officers have the right to search you or your luggage before allowing you to enter the United States. This is to ensure that you do not bring anything onto US soil that is illegal or harmful in any way. This is routine, so do not worry if you are searched. The easiest way to deal with a search is to let it happen as a matter of course.
Clearing US customs can be a struggle with some passengers, especially if you are arriving from a country that is ‘exotic’ and not as heavily regulated as the United States. However if you remember these simple facts, you should find that you are able to clear US customs without trouble – remember that the regulations are there to protect the United States and its citizens and you.
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