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“Know Before You Go” this Holiday Season

Release Date: 
November 26, 2019

CBP offers international travelers tips for safe and efficient travel

WASHINGTON—U.S. Customs and Border Protection encourages international travelers to “Know Before You Go” this holiday season. Planning ahead and using the following travel tips can save time and lead to a less stressful journey.

Global Entry kiosks at Boston Logan International Airport
Travelers use the Global Entry kiosks at Boston Logan International Airport.

Obtain all necessary travel documents: Travelers should have their passports and any other required travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing and when visiting a foreign country.  For more information about approved travel documents for entry into the United States, visit and

Declare goods: Truthfully declare everything that you bring into the United States, including duty-free items.  Applicable duties may be paid with credit cards or cash payments in U.S. currency. Travelers are asked to review the list of prohibited and restricted items prior to departure.

Declare food: Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. If you have questions about which food products you may bring into the United States, please visit And remember – don’t pack a pest!

Declare gifts: All gifts must be declared upon arrival, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts that you are given abroad and gifts you purchase for others.

Report currency when required: There is no limit to how much currency you may carry into or out of the United States. However, U.S. law requires travelers to report currency or other monetary instruments of $10,000 or more. Travelers who fail to truthfully report all of their currency may have their currency seized and may face criminal charges.

Learn how CBP is facilitating lawful travel: CBP is making the entry process more efficient, more intuitive and paperless for travelers.

  • Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control - APC allows most travelers to use self-service kiosks at more than 50 airports worldwide. Travelers who download the Mobile Passport App can submit their passport and inspection information prior to arrival.
  • Biometric Entry/Exit - CBP and its partners are automating the identity verification process at some ports of entry with biometric facial comparison technology. Instead of presenting a passport, travelers will simply pose for a picture at the boarding gate or passport inspection booth. The new process is intended to reduce boarding times, improve security, and fulfill a Congressional mandate. U.S. citizens who choose to opt out of the biometric facial comparison process may ask CBP officers or airline representatives to inspect their travel documents manually, as is already done today.
  • Trusted Traveler Programs - For your next trip, consider joining the ranks of a Trusted Traveler Program. Members of Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI enjoy the most expedited CBP processing experience.
  • PreclearancePreclearance allows CBP to position personnel overseas to complete the traveler inspection process prior to boarding. U.S.-bound travelers from Preclearance locations experience swifter entry and faster connection times.
  • Visa Waiver Program – Citizens and nationals of the 39 Visa Waiver Program countries may be eligible to travel to the United States temporarily for business or tourism without a visa. Prospective VWP travelers must apply online via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization. ESTAs should be submitted 72 hours before departure.

Apply and pay for an I-94 online: Speed up your entry into the United States by providing your biographic and travel information and paying the $6 fee for the I-94 application online at up to seven days prior to entry.

Monitor border wait times: Use the border wait times website to plan your trip across the border. Travelers may also download the official Border Wait Time app from the Apple App Store or Google Play.  

Use a Ready Lane: Some U.S. land border crossings feature Ready Lanes, which are 20 percent faster than normal lanes. To use Ready Lanes, travelers over 16 years of age are required to have radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled travel documents. These include RFID-enabled U.S. passport cards; legal permanent resident cards; B1/B2 border crossing cards; Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST cards; and enhanced driver’s licenses.

Traveling with medication: Travelers must declare all medicine and similar products when entering the United States. Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor. It is advised that travelers carry no more than a 90 day supply of their medication.

Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the United States. In addition, dog owners must produce proof of rabies vaccination. If crossing with a puppy, certain paperwork must be completed at the border. All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, and wildlife requirements and prohibitions, regardless of how the pet enters the country.  Pets taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. For more information about traveling with your pet to a foreign country or bringing your pet into the United States, visit the APHIS pet travel website.

CBP’s mission is to facilitate lawful travel while maintaining the highest standards of security. On a typical day last year, CBP officers processed more than one million travelers arriving at airports, seaports and border crossings. 


Last modified: 
December 11, 2019