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2012 Traveler Survey: Executive Summary

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Model Ports program, which began in 2006, seeks to enhance border security while streamlining security processes and facilitating legitimate travel. The Model Ports initiative was designed to present a warmer welcome to travelers and provide a more intuitive process by improving signage, communications and technology to facilitate entry.

CBP contracted with MGS in 2009 to survey travelers entering the United States to obtain their feedback on CBP's Model Ports program. MGS conducted the first survey in 2011. Fieldwork for a 2012 follow-on survey took place between July 18 and August 23, 2012. MGS conducted 25,707 interviews with international travelers at 20 airports across the United States. Travelers were asked a variety of questions about their satisfaction with their experience, including their interaction with CBP officers, the inspection area, and wait times as well as whether they felt welcome or would consider returning to the United States. Below is a summary of the results:

  • The majority of travelers have positive feelings regarding the United States and travel to the United States after their entry process made them feel welcome. Another 65 percent said the entry process had a positive impact on their desire to return.
  • table 1

  • Ninety-four percent or more of travelers agree that CBP officials are professional, helpful, efficient, and easy to understand. Another 85 percent of travelers felt welcomed by the CBP officers.

  • table 2

  • Travelers are very satisfied with the CBP inspection area. Ninety-one percent or more of travelers agree that the processing area has informative signs, has a layout that is easy to follow, and is staffed with helpful officers.
  • Most travelers are satisfied with the time it takes them to clear the customs process. Eighty-six percent of travelers agree that the entry process time is either short or reasonable. Sixty-three percent of travelers made it through the processing area in 15 minutes or less.

Survey results for 2012 are consistent with the 2011 survey results. Following are several highlights comparing the fall 2011 and summer 2012 survey results:

  • Visitors' views of the United States as a result of the screening process remain high. Eighty-four percent of visitors feel welcome to the United States as a result of the entry process, and 65 percent have a desire to return. U.S. citizens who believe the entry process has a positive impact on their desire to travel internationally increased to 69 percent (from 54 percent in 2011).
  • The high approval ratings of CBP officers have changed relatively little. Officers are still thought to be welcoming, professional, efficient, and helpful. Satisfaction with the inspection area also remains high. Satisfaction with the video shown in the processing area increased to 82 percent (from 63 percent in 2011).
  • Travelers still see processing times as short or reasonable. However, actual processing time has increased slightly since 2011*.
    *at the time of this survey

In conclusion, CBP continues to receive positive and consistent ratings about the entry process into the United States from U.S. citizens and visitors from abroad. CBP officers have a reputation of being welcoming, professional, helpful, and easy to understand. The processing areas are also seen as welcoming, with layouts that are clear and easy to follow. Overall, the work of CBP officers is highly regarded among travelers from around the world.