STERLING, Virginia – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers five travel tips for travelers returning from overseas trips to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) during the busy Memorial Day holiday.
“Holiday travel can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful, especially when traveling with young children or if traveling outside of the United States for the first time,” said Casey Durst, CBP’s Director of Field Operations in Baltimore. “Customs and Border Protection hopes that these tips will help travelers to better prepare for their return inspection so they can focus on enjoying their vacations.”
In addition to ensuring that they have the appropriate identification and entry documents for their travel abroad, travelers can help simplify their CBP arrivals inspection by following these tips.
1. Familiarize yourself with biometric entry and exit.
CBP has implemented facial comparison technology for international arrivals processing at Washington Dulles International Airport and at 14 other air and two land ports of entry. CBP officers compare a “live” photograph of a traveler against existing photos from government databases, including passports and visas. No new biographical data is required. U.S. citizens who request not to participate in this biometric entry process may notify a CBP officer or an airport representative in order to seek an alternative means of verifying their identity and documents.
2. Know Before You Go.
CBP offers three interesting videos to help describe the arrivals inspection process when you return from an overseas vacation or business trip. A few minutes of viewing these videos can save travelers valuable time and stress during the CBP arrivals inspection process.
3. Truthfully declare all food products.
After a long flight, travelers just want to complete the CBP arrivals inspection and go home or meet a connecting flight. Being referred to an agriculture inspection for a banana you took from your hotel or a meat pizza you purchased at your departure airport will add a secondary examination to your inspection. Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. Knowing what you can and cannot bring back to the United States will help get you on your way quicker. Travelers who fail to declare prohibited agriculture products risk paying a civil penalty, generally $300 or more.
4. Truthfully declare everything you purchased overseas, and all currency you possess.
Families are permitted duty exemptions, generally $800 per person on goods purchased overseas. Merchandise exceeding $800 may require a duty payment. Travelers who fail to declare all merchandise they purchased overseas are liable for paying a duty penalty, up to 100% of the value of the good purchased.
Additionally, travelers are required to report all currency and monetary instruments in their possession if over $10,000, or risk a civil penalty, loss of all currency and potential criminal prosecution.
Travelers can view a sample Customs Declaration to prepare for their return to the U.S.
5. Know the requirements for traveling with pets.
Pets taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as pets entering for the first time. Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness, and dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination. All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, or wildlife requirements and prohibitions. For more information about traveling with your pet to a foreign country or bringing your pet into the U.S., visit U.S. Department of Agriculture’s APHIS’s pet travel website.
One extra tip …
Frequent travelers, whether by air or across land border crossings, should consider participating in one of CBP’s Trusted Traveler programs for future travel.
CBP’s Global Entry Program is an ideal option for frequent international air travelers. Global Entry provides expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk international travelers. Members can expect priority processing when entering the United States using automated kiosks at airports throughout the nation, and membership qualifies members for TSA Pre-Check.
CBP also offers NEXUS and SENTRI trusted traveler programs for northern and southern land border crossers, respectively. Trusted travelers in one program are eligible for benefits under the other programs. For example, a NEXUS member may use Global Entry kiosks.
To determine which program is best for you or to apply, visit CBP’s Trusted Traveler application website.
CBP’s mission is to facilitate legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security for those who live here and those who visit. On a typical day, CBP officers process more than one million travelers who arrive at airports, seaports and land border crossings across the United States. Peak travel time is during the summer months, and so travelers should expect heavy traffic. Planning ahead can save time and lead to a less stressful trip. Please visit CBP’s Travel website for more tips on international travel.