When you are flying into a different country than your flight departed from, you have to go through immigration and customs. If you're wondering: how does customs work or what will get you through customs faster, keep reading. We'll share what you need to know about traveling through customs in this article.
The goal of customs is to ensure the country's safety. That can mean keeping out any unwanted items or people and ensuring that the economy is protected so taxes aren't circumvented. Knowing how to navigate customs is just one of the aspects of learning how to navigate an airport.
Know Before You Go
Being prepared is one of the best ways to get through customs faster. Knowing what to expect can help ensure you're not caught off guard, ultimately delaying the entire process.
1. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to get through customs
Wondering how long customs take? The good news is that it's a speedier process than in the past. The bad news is that the time it takes can vary wildly depending on which airport you travel through and when you land. Customs will take a lot longer if a bunch of flights all land at the same time, but, on average, it takes about 20 minutes or less to get through customs.
2. Expect to go through customs after your final international-bound flight
Many travelers wonder when and where they can expect to be checked: do you go through customs before or after your flight? The process starts while you're on the flight with a declaration form, but the official customs process will happen when you have arrived at your destination (in a different country) and before you're allowed to legally enter that country.
3. Customs might go through your luggage
Each country has its own set of rules for travelers. In some areas, they may send your luggage through a scanner, but one of the biggest questions on everyone's minds is: does customs go through your luggage? The answer: they have the right to do so, but often they do not.
How to Get Through Customs Faster
After a long flight, the last thing you want to do is wait in line. There are ways to speed up the process for yourself and your travel companions. In fact, if everyone followed these simple tips, the whole line would move a lot faster.
Apply for Global Entry and Other Services that Facilitate Entrance
Global Entry is a program designed to facilitate re-entry into the USA for those who travel internationally. As the TSA precheck helps speed up going through security, Global Entry speeds up going through customs. It can be used with the free Mobile Passport Control app, which helps speed up passport and customs declaration. Learn more about applying for global entry on our blog
Set Yourself up for Success with Proper Luggage and Organization
A surefire way to slow down the customs process is packing wrong and not knowing where everything is in your luggage. Fortunately, the right gear can eliminate hassle and keep you moving along.
Usinga backpack designed for travel keeps all of your essential documents and items in their own designated space. Or try a carry-on spinner designed for international travel. You can even go a step further and use an RFID-blocking passport cover or security pouch to ensure your passport and travel documents stay close and are protected from loss or identity theft.
Organize Before Leaving the Plane
Upon deplaning, you will collect your baggage and be ushered directly into customs before leaving the airport. Get organized before you get your bags, because there may not be a convenient place to stop without impeding traffic. The right travel gear, like a great backpack for carry on, will help you get through as quickly as possible.
Throw Away any Food, Drink, and Other Prohibited Items
Immigration and customs are designed to keep the country safe. One of the ways is by ensuring that outside food doesn't bring unwanted contaminants from one country to another. Traveling with food can land you in a heap of trouble, so trash any leftovers before you head into the customs line, and never transport produce or live plants from one country to another.
Declare Everything to Avoid Questioning
Customs isn't there to bust you. Their job is not to give you a hard time or make it hard for you to get into their country. Their job is to protect the best interests of the country you're heading into. Fill out the declaration forms honestly. Trying to hide things you are carrying could get you fined and flagged, or worse.
Now that you know how to navigate customs successfully, check out these 8 essential tips for traveling internationally that will surely make your entire trip more enjoyable.