Customs/Immigration/Layovers

Mar 19th, 2009, 10:57 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 37
Customs/Immigration/Layovers

I'm taking from first trip overseas - Cleveland to Manchester in April. I booked through Northwest and got a great deal on business class, but in order to get that great deal - I'm making an extra stop in Amsterdam. To me - it seemed worth it for the extra room in business class as I have a bad knee and don't think I would handle coach seating well for 8+ hours... etc...

Anyway, my question... I leave from Cleveland to Detroit, Detroit to Amsterdam, and Amsterdam to Manchester. At what point will I go through customs/immigration? Will I have to at both Amsterdam and Manchester? Someone told me I had to claim my luggage then go to customs - is that right? I have about 90 minutes at each airport for a layover - is that sufficient time? I'm on Northwest for the first two legs, then switching to KLM.

On my return, I'm leaving Manchester, flying to Amsterdam (both on Northwest) and arriving in Newark (ugh, I know). From Newark, I go to Cleveland on Continental. I only have 1 hour and 5 minutes - which I am quite certain isn't enough time at Newark and am pretty sure I'll miss this connection.... but there are 6 more flights to Cleveland after this one - so I think I should be able to get on one of those. But - when I get to Newark - will I claim my luggage - then go through Customs in the US? How is Newark for customs?

Thanks!
tknechtges is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 11:53 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
Outbound:

You don't go through immigration or customs at AMS. Only security. You will only go through immigration and customs at MAN. You also won't see your bags at AMS either.

That's because the UK is not part of the Schengen common-travel area in continental Europe. So, you're doing a pure air-side transit, without entering Netherlands, which is part of the Schengen area.

90 minutes is enough.

Return:

Same thing at AMS. No immigration or customs. But you will go through security there.

At EWR, you'll go through immigration, claim bags, customs; then drop off the bags outside customs exit to Continental. Ride the AirTrain to Terminal C, reclear security.

Note that CO only has about 6 non-stop mainline EWR-CLE a day. Some of the other flights you see are one-stops on Continental Express. Those flights depart from EWR Terminal A.

You have little to no chance of making that 65 minute connection if you have luggage, even as a US citizen.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 11:56 AM
  #3  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,197
On your way home, you will go through Immigration AND Customs at Newark. Immigration is the part where you show your passport. If you are a US citizen or Green card holder, the wait isn't too long.

After you go through immigration, you reclaim your luggage (if you checked any), THEN you go through CUSTOMS. Customs is where you declare any items you purchased abroad that exceeds the allowance. If you don't have anything to declare, all that involves is handing your customs form to the officer and walk out.

Once you exit the CUSTOMS area, there's usually a drop-off counter to re-check any of your checked luggage. After that, you proceed to the gate for your flight back to Cleveland (usually you'll have to go through security again).

Important thing to remember, is if you buy any liquids at dutyfree in Amsterdam that are over the 3oz size but you carry it with you on your AMS-EWR flight, you need to check those liquids in your checked bag for the EWR-CLE flight, because you have to go through security for your CLE-bound flight.
yk is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 01:00 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
If you don't have anything to declare, all that involves is handing your customs form to the officer and walk out.,

that's not entirely true statement. During my extensive foreign travels I have been send for secondary customs check. Both times it took about an hour, not the check itself but the wait in line for an available agent. One other time I was approached by a customs officer as I was waiting for my checked luggage and she proceeded to ask me few questions. That time it took about 10 minutes. I'm a US citizen working indirectly for US government. Not once of the times I was send for a secondary did I claim more than few $100 worth of gifts and personal items purchased outside the country.

So, it's not always just handing over the form.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 01:39 PM
  #5  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,197
AAFF - What's the percentage of those 2 checks vs the ones you didn't get sent for the secondary check?

It happened to me once, out of about 25-30 international trips I took in the last 19 years. While it certainly happens, the likelihood is small.

Whether the OP gets sent for secondary check or not, I agree that his/her chance of catching the EWR-CLE flight is slim. And even if he/she makes it, the checked luggage most likely won't.
yk is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 01:56 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 37
Ok - thanks for that information. Some other questions - if I carry my luggage on board - is that a better option? I won't have much as I'm only there 3 days - so I can possibly get away without checking.

Also - where do I get the customs paperwork? Is that something I get from the airlines? Online before I go? At the airport?

Thanks again.
tknechtges is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 02:13 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
AAFF - What's the percentage of those 2 checks vs the ones you didn't get sent for the secondary check?,

very small % but that's why I said, "it's not entirely correct statement"
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 02:21 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
Usually the airline will hand out the forms during your flight. Sometimes they run out but don't fret. There will be forms available once you get to the immigration hall. In that case you need to fill it out BEFORE" you get in line for immigration, not before you need to see the customs officer. The immigration officer will stamp the form and sometimes hand mark it if s/he thinks that you should get a closer look by the customs, but at the end it's still up to customs to decide if you get a secondary, regardless what the immigration officer did/did not do.

At the end, I'm not trying to scare you, just giving out information as to what may/may not happen. Unless you're smuggling drugs, weapons, live/dead animals, live plants and or fresh foods or your suitcase is full of expensive purchases that you did not declare, then there really is nothing to worry about.
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 03:12 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
If you don't have checked luggage for your AMS-EWR leg, you will be faster because you don't need to wait for your bags before customs. If you want to, you can still have them checked again with Continental afterwards, but you most likely will be charged for luggage fees in that case.

As for getting sent to secondary screening, it all depends. Years ago, I used to carry dried mushrooms and other dried Chinese food items back to the US. They are all allowed, and I always honestly checked the "YES" box about whether you're bringing "food items". As a result I often (but not always) get sent for secondary screening, and they're usually satisfied after I show them those specific items.

And two years ago, my parents were sent to secondary screening because they honestly wrote down "Morocco" on the customs form as one of the countries they visited during that trip. They bags weren't even searched. Instead, they just ran their names through the computer against some list or whatnot. And that took like 15-20 minutes.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2009, 06:16 PM
  #10  
yk
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 24,197
I/We always check YES for the box for food, altho it's just boxed chocolates or tea bags, on every trip I/we took. Out of all these trips, we got sent for secondary screening once. I guess our immigration officer was either having a bad day, or had to fill his "quota".

Anyway, I think the OP has a higher chance of having his/her luggage lost than being sent for secondary screening!
yk is offline  
Mar 21st, 2009, 03:50 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,162
As it is only a few days I would try not to check any luggage. With as many connections in as short a time as you have there is a higher chance you and/or your luggage will not make a segment. If you have your stuff with you at least then you can be more flexible about alternate routes, staying over, whatever.
laurie_ann is offline  
Apr 27th, 2009, 08:26 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 37
Thanks for those that posted comments to my question. Thought I'd just follow up. I ended up not checking my luggage and carrying it on with me. That helped a lot. The flight over was the biggest issue - delays in Detroit caused me to miss my connection in Amsterdam to Manchester - overbookings for all flights out of Amsterdam put me on a flight to Birmingham. KLM was very good about providing ground transport from Birmingham to Manchester.. although I arrived in MAN at 5 pm instead of 10 am. A very long day to say the least.

On the return - everything went without a glitch - no line at immigration - walked right through customs and my air tran was waiting for me to catch to terminal C. I even had about 20 minutes before we boarded to Cleveland in Newark. All in all - coming home was super easy.

Thanks to rkkwan for your exact information - you nailed it perfectly! My first international flight was a big daunting.. but I made it through just fine. Next flight in three weeks to Paris. Hopefully that one will go even better!
tknechtges is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
lvreise
Air Travel
4
Feb 1st, 2012 05:40 PM
moonlily
Europe
14
Oct 16th, 2011 09:00 PM
DianneSC
Air Travel
8
Apr 10th, 2010 05:27 AM
knmusic
Europe
14
Feb 6th, 2007 08:31 PM
michelle_reed1
Europe
12
Mar 24th, 2003 05:29 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:13 PM.