U.S. Customs and Border Protection Offers Holiday Travel Tips

airport securityThe U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) service is reminding holiday travelers of important policies to ensure a smooth and efficient processing upon arrival in the United States. The CBP also reminded U.S. travelers of travel requirements.

“CBP is prepared for a busy holiday travel season, but travelers can also help in the process by being aware of the requirements when entering the country,” said commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “CBP has programs in place to help expedite the arrivals process for travelers including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, Automated Passport Control and Mobile Passport Control. And this holiday season, we are pleased to add the Border Wait Time app which is available now for download for Apple and Android users.”

For those traveling by car this year, CBP recently announced the addition of the Border Wait Time app to 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.

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CBP also said it continues to  create a traveler-friendly processing environment. More than three million travelers are enrolled in CBP’s trusted traveler programs, such as Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI. These programs expedite entry into the United States for pre-approved, low risk travelers. 

This year, CBP said it added more than 20 locations to the Automated Passport Control (APC) program. The APC kiosks allow U.S. citizens and certain visitors to submit their customs declaration form electronically and have helped to reduce wait times by as much as 25-40 percent in some locations.

Travelers arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport also have a mobile option to expedite their entry, CBP said. Much like APC, the Mobile Passport Control app allows travelers to submit their customs declaration form using their mobile device. The I-94 was also automated last year, eliminating another paper international travelers have to complete. These programs allow CBP officers to process travelers safely and efficiently while enhancing security.

Travelers are reminded to check ahead of time to ensure any agriculture or animal products are admissible into the United States. Every year, CBP said it intercepts more than one million prohibited agriculture items at ports of entry.

CBP also urges travelers to familiarize themselves with the duty exemptions when traveling with goods, especially if transporting gifts or alcoholic beverages around the holidays. Typically, U.S. citizens and residents are allowed $800 worth of goods and one liter of alcohol duty-free. 

Travelers can take additional steps to smooth their arrivals process by familiarizing themselves with U.S. rules and regulations before departing to avoid potential penalties and fines.

Travel Requirements for U.S. Citizens

CBP also reminded individuals traveling abroad must have approved travel documents when returning home. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable travel document, such as a passport, a U.S. passport card, a trusted traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST), permanent resident card or an enhanced driver’s license that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the United States by land or sea. U.S. and Canadian citizens under age 16 may present a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship when entering by land or sea. All travelers must have a passport for international air travel.

Travel Requirements for Visitors to the United States

All nationals or citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are required to have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP, CBP says.

ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the United States. CBP recommends ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.

Visit www.cbp.gov

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