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Travel Tips Ensure Smooth CBP Processing Experience

Release Date: 
May 23, 2019

Truthful declarations can help avoid delays during busy summer travel season

WASHINGTON – As the summer travel season is among the busiest times at international airports and ports of entry across the country, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is offering tips for travelers to adopt when arriving to the United States.

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 Last summer, CBP processed more than 114 million international travelers at U.S. ports of entry around the country.

 CBP officers at international airports, cruise terminals, land border ports of entry and at Preclearance facilities throughout the world are ready for the additional traffic expected over this three-month period.

“As we prepare to welcome millions of travelers from all over the world this summer, CBP officers are working hard to facilitate arrivals while protecting the country and enforcing our nation’s laws,” said Acting CBP Commissioner John P. Sanders. “Travel to the U.S. has grown year by year, and we continue to expand programs and leverage innovative technology to provide convenience to travelers while maintaining the highest standards of security.”

Travelers are encouraged to plan and to consider the following tips to ensure a smooth and efficient CBP processing experience.

Travel Documents: Travelers should have appropriate passports and any other associated travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing or visiting a foreign country. Remember to carry these documents; do not pack them. More information about approved travel documents for entry into the U.S. as well as country specific information is available at state.gov/travelers.

Declare goods: Truthfully declare everything you are bringing from abroad, including duty-free items. If duty is applicable, credit cards or cash payment in U.S. currency is acceptable.

Declare foodMany agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. If you have questions about what food is allowed or not allowed in to the U.S. visit cbp.gov and remember don't pack a pest!

Apply and pay for an I-94 online (land border entry): Speed up your entry into the U.S. by providing your biographic and travel information and paying the $6 fee for the I-94 application online up to seven days prior to entry.

Monitor border wait times: Download the Border Wait Time app or use the border crossings wait times website to plan your trip across the border. Know which ports of entry have heavier traffic and possibly use an alternate route. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits. The official Border Wait Time app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

Use Ready Lanes at land ports of entry:  At available land border ports of entry, processing in Ready Lanes is 20 percent faster than normal lanes and provides a time savings of up to 20 seconds per vehicle. To use a Ready Lane at available land ports of entry, obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID)-enabled travel document.  To use Ready Lanes, travelers (16 years of age and older) are required to have high-tech RFID enabled cards. These include RFID-enabled U.S. Passport cards, Legal Permanent Resident cards, B1/B2 border crossing cards, Trusted Traveler Cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), and Enhanced Driver’s Licenses.

Declare gifts: Gifts you bring back for your personal use must be declared, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts people gave you while you were out of the country and gifts you have brought back for others.

Prohibited vs. restricted: Know the difference between prohibited merchandise (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, visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website.

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. Travelers are advised to carry just personal-use quantities; a rule of thumb is no more than a 90-day supply. If medications or devices are not in their original containers, travelers should carry a copy of the prescription or a letter from the prescribing doctor.

Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the U.S. In addition, dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination.  All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, or wildlife requirements and prohibitions. The regulations about bringing a pet into the U.S. are the same whether you drive over the U.S. border with your pet in your car, fly, or travel by other means. Pets taken out of the U.S. and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. For more information about traveling with a pet to a foreign country or bringing a pet into the U.S., visit APHIS’s pet travel.

Travelers carrying more than $10,000: There is no limit to how much currency a traveler can bring in or out of the U.S.; however, U.S. federal law requires travelers to report total currency more than $10,000. Currency includes all forms of monetary instruments. Travelers who fail to truthfully report all of their currency risk their currency being seized, and may face criminal charges.

For citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is required before boarding an aircraft. 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 online.

For your next international trip, consider joining the ranks of the Trusted Traveler. Trusted Traveler members enrolled in Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI continue to enjoy the most expedited CBP processing experience. Trusted Traveler members retain their membership for five years. 

Facilitating lawful travel while maintaining the highest standards of border security remains a priority for CBP. On a typical day last year, CBP officers processed more than 1 million travelers arriving at airports, seaports or border crossings.  During the summer months, travelers should expect heavy traffic.  Planning and adopting these travel tips can save time and lead to a less stressful trip.

Last modified: 
July 18, 2019