CBP Offers Tips for a Quick and Safe Easter Holiday Border Crossing Experience
El Paso, Texas - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the El Paso port of entry and other area international crossings are providing guidance to assist those travelers who intend to travel between the U.S. from Mexico in the days before the Easter holiday. The tips are designed to ease the crossing process as CBP officers maintain their principal anti-terror mission.
The Easter/Holy Week season is historically one of the busiest travel periods at southwest border crossings. Along with a general 10-15% increase in overall traffic figures, another area that experiences a significant increase in volume is the number of Mexican laser visa card holders who request the I-94 travel documents required to travel beyond the border zone. Applications for I-94's typically double or triple at the El Paso port of entry during the week before Easter.
CBP officers also typically seize large numbers of confetti-filled cascarones in the days leading up to the Easter holiday. The colorful eggshells are prohibited because they may introduce Exotic Newcastle's Disease to the U.S. poultry industry and should not be imported from Mexico. Violators will be subject to penalties.
U.S. citizen travelers are also reminded that this is the first Easter holiday travel season since Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) was implemented at land border crossings last summer. U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. at a land port of entry like El Paso need a U.S. Passport, U.S. Passport card, or other approved WHTI document.
In an effort to provide the best possible service to the traveling public during the upcoming holiday season, CBP officials are proactively reminding members of the traveling public that there are a number of steps they can employ to cross the border as quickly and safely as possible while avoiding violations of U.S. law.
Tip #1 - Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Please have crossing documents available for the inspection including a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) approved document for U.S. citizens.
Tip #2 - Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.
Tip #3 - Travelers should build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic. This includes SENTRI/Dedicated Commuter Lane (DCL) users.
Tip #4 - Travelers are encouraged to visit the "Know Before You Go" section of the CBP website at Know Before You Go to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. "Know Before You Go" brochures are available at border ports.
Tip #5 - Consult the CBP website site at CBP Border Wait Times to monitor border crossing times. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.
Tip #6 - During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative entry routes. For example, they may want to use the nearby and less heavily traveled Fabens or Santa Teresa ports of entry instead of the El Paso port.
Tip #7 - Visit the port of entry to obtain I-94 travel documents in advance of the busiest holiday travel periods. This will allow travelers who require I-94 documents (those planning to travel beyond the border zone or stay in the U.S. for more than 30 days) to bypass those lines when they formally enter the U.S. They will still be subject to the inspection process.
Tip #8 - Travelers approaching an interior Border Patrol checkpoint should have their documents ready to present to the U.S. Border Patrol agent if asked. This will save time.
Tip #9 - Drivers should insure that their vehicles are properly maintained and mechanically sound and that occupants avoid riding in areas of vehicles not specifically designed to carry passengers. Failure to follow these steps can expose crossers/passengers to carbon monoxide.