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CBP Offers Travel Tips For Upcoming Holiday Travel Period

Release Date: 
November 24, 2015

EL PASO, Texas -- U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reminding international travelers planning to cross the border for Thanksgiving events, Black Friday shopping and the upcoming holiday season of several important things they can do to ensure a smooth and efficient processing experience upon their arrival in the United States.

“The best thing travelers can do is be informed, have their appropriate entry documents, and be ready to declare any and all goods they are importing from Mexico,” said Hector Mancha, CBP Director of Field Operation in El Paso. “CBP is working to help move travelers through our area crossings as quickly as possible while still maintaining our priority homeland security mission.”

The El Paso port of entry is reminding members of the traveling public when all inspection lanes are staffed under the All Lanes Open Initiative. The ongoing public-private partnership between CBP and the city of El Paso will also open more lanes during specific periods at some locations. In addition can observe current traffic conditions at the Paso Del Norte, Stanton and Ysleta bridges on the city of El Paso website.

CBP is also encouraging travelers with appropriate entry documents to use the designated Ready Lanes when they can. Also available to assist travelers is the free Border Wait Time app available at the Apple App Store and Google Play. The app is a one-stop shop for cross border travel and provides estimated wait times and open lane status at land ports of entry. The data is updated hourly. The app was introduced a little more than one year ago.

“The ports of entry will be busy this holiday season. This is to be expected,” said Mancha. “Knowing when all lanes are staffed, being able to remotely check wait times, and being able to observe current conditions should help the traveling public identify the best times to cross the border quickly.”

CBP introduced the ALOI at the El Paso port of entry approximately three years ago. CBP staffs all vehicular and pedestrian lanes between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. All lanes are open Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. For this week only the ALOI hours for Thursday (Thanksgiving) have been shifted to 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. because there will be little morning work/school related traffic that day. Additional ALOI hours have also been added to the BOTA crossing on Saturday and Sunday this week.

In addition to the ALOI the city of El Paso is providing funding to CBP which allows the agency to staff additional lanes at area border crossings. Those periods are limited to specific locations and times. They generally include vehicular lanes at the Paso Del Norte and Ysleta crossings from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 p.m. to midnight on Sunday; PDN vehicular lanes from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Monday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the pedestrian area. Additional periods may be added to support periods of anticipated heavy traffic to include holidays and special events.

In addition to the local information CBP is encouraging travelers this summer to be a “Ready Traveler” by following these travel tips.

Travel Tips

  • 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.travel.state.gov for country-specific information.
  • For citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, make sure you have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before boarding. For those traveling by air or sea on a visa, CBP has automated the Form 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 on the I-94 webpage.
  • Have a completed Customs Declaration form (6059b) upon reaching CBP processing or use the Automated Passport Control kiosks at participating airports. Declare everything you are bringing from abroad, even if you bought it in a duty-free shop. Know that things bought abroad for personal use or as gifts may be eligible for duty exemptions. If you are bringing them back for resale, they are not.
  • 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. For more information, please visit the Bringing Agricultural Products Into the United States section of the CBP website.
  • 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.
  • Monitor border wait times for various ports of entry. Travelers are encouraged to plan their trips during periods of lighter traffic or to use an alternate, less heavily traveled port of entry. For more information, travelers can find up-to-date wait time information on the CBP website. 
  • 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.
  • Familiarize yourself with the “Know Before You Go” brochure or section of the CBP website.
Last modified: 
February 9, 2017