SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Memorial Day weekend kick starts the summer travel season. U.S. Customs and Border Protection invites travelers to learn the guidelines concerning international arrival at any port of entry, particularly those arriving from international destinations into Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
At the ports of entry, CBP Officers inspect passengers for compliance with U.S. immigration, customs and agriculture regulations. The more international travelers know about what to expect, the easier and quicker the process becomes.
In preparation for the summer travel season, CBP’s San Juan Field Office issues an advisory to improve every visitor’s experience when entering United States via the territories in the Caribbean.
“Programs such as Global Entry, expedite the arrivals process, but travelers can make their own experience better by being ready and aware of the requirements when entering the United States,” stated Vernon Foret, Acting Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
Tourists, U.S. Citizens (USC) and Legal Residents can take additional steps to smooth their arrivals process by familiarizing themselves with U.S. rules and regulations before departing to avoid potential penalties and fines upon their return.
Upon arrival to a U.S. port of entry, travelers must declare the following:
- Items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return to the United States.
- Items you bought in duty-free shops, on the ship, or on the plane.
- Repairs or alterations to any items you took abroad and then brought back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
- Items you brought home for someone else.
- Items you intend to sell or use in your business, including business merchandise that you took out of the United States on your trip.
Travel Requirements for U.S. Citizens
Individuals traveling abroad must have approved travel documents when returning home.
All travelers must have a valid passport, U.S. Military ID with official orders, Merchant Mariner’s Document for USC’s on official maritime business, or Permanent Resident card for international air travel.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable travel document, such as a passport, a U.S. passport card, a trusted traveler card, permanent resident card or an enhanced driver’s license that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea.
U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a US port within the Western Hemisphere and return to a U.S. port on the same ship (Closed Loop Cruises) may present a government issued photo ID, along with proof of citizenship (birth certificate, Consular report of Birth Abroad or Certificate of Naturalization.) U.S. and Canadian citizens under age 16 may present a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship when entering by land or sea.”
For additional information on documentary requirements, you can visit http://www.cbp.gov/travel/us-citizens/western-hemisphere-travel-initiative.
Travel Requirements for Visitors to the U.S.
All nationals or citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are required to have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the United States. CBP recommends ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.
- Have all the required travel documents for the country you are visiting, as well as identification for re-entry to the United States. Passports are required for air travel. Visit www.state.gov/travelers for country-specific information.
- For those traveling by air or sea on a visa, CBP has automated the I-94 removing the need for travelers to fill out a paper copy. Travelers will still be able to obtain their I-94 number and/or a copy of their I-94.
- Know the difference between prohibited merchandise (which is forbidden by law to enter the U.S.) and restricted merchandise (items needing special permit to be allowed into the U.S.). For more information, please visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website. Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and/or firewood into the United States without first checking whether they are permitted.
- Understand that CBP officers can inspect you and your personal belongings without a warrant. This may include your luggage, vehicle, and personal searches and is meant to enforce our laws as well as protect legitimate travelers.
- If you are a frequent international traveler and haven’t already become a member of a trusted traveler program, sign up now. For more information, please visit the Trusted Traveler section of the CBP website.
- You may bring into or take out of the country, including by mail, as much money as you wish. However, if it is more than $10,000, you will need to report it to CBP. Ask the CBP officer for the Currency Reporting Form (FinCen 105). The penalties for non-compliance can be severe.