First International Flight

Oct 28th, 2009, 01:37 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2
First International Flight


I'm taking my first international flight to St Maarten this weekend; I've been on a few domestic flights before, but I'm not sure what to expect as far as customs and border patrol. I leave from Chicago, connect in Ft Lauderdale, and then land at the Princess Julianna airport. Will they check my passport in Chicago, Ft Lauderdale, or St Maarten?
What about on the return flight?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated : )
moosecheese is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 02:12 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 10,189
You will be asked to show your passport when you check in for your flight in Chicago, but not again until you arrive in St. Maarten. I haven't been to St. Maarten since the new terminal opened, but it looks pretty much like any other airport.

Step off the plane and go through Immigration, where you show your passport and it's stamped.

Collect your luggage.

Go through Customs ... you generally just walk through after handing over a form. (Do they do forms in St. Maarten ... I can't remember that.)

On the return, you check in and show your passport. You don't show it again until the FIRST airport where you land in Florida (Fort Lauderdale). There you go through immigration, collect your luggage, pass through Customs, re-check your luggage for your flight to Chicago, and then go to your gate.

IMPORTANT: If you buy any liquor in the Caribbean, you have to put it in your checked, not carry-on, luggage, even if you have bought it after security in St. Maarten at one of the airport's duty-free shops. In that case, after you go through Customs in Fort Lauderdale, open your checked bag, put in the bottles (ideally have them bubble-wrapped at the airport in St. Maarten if they offer the service), and then close, lock, and re-check your bag.
doug_stallings is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 04:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
as you have not flown much - a few extra tips.
if you want to bring water you have to buy it after you have passed tsa check point. if you want to snack you can put food (from home or whereever) in your carryon. there may or may not be any snack served on your flight, if yes it will be a small offering.
if you have a laptop open it and lay it face down flat to go through xray machine.
before you go through screening take off any jackets, sweaters, shoes, and empty pockets. put everything in the bustubs.
assume you know that any liquids or gels in your carryon must be in max 3oz containers and those must all be contained in one quart size zip loc.
have a wonderful vacation.
virginia is offline  
Oct 28th, 2009, 04:11 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 5,765
wait - moosecheese? lol. do i want to know the inspiration for your screenname?
virginia is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 03:45 AM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 433
You should be able to check your luggage at O'Hare right through to the island, but remember - no liquids, or sharp items in your carry on, which must be of a size small enough to fit into one of the overhead bins on the plane.

You will probably have to remove your shoes at the security control, so remember to wear footwear that is easy to slip off and put on. You will not have to OPEN your lap top - just remove it from it's carrying case to pass through the x-ray machine. You will probably also be asked to remove your waist belt (if any) so, to avoid embarrassment, make sure that whatever you are wearing will stay in place after you have done so !

If you want to eat on the flight, bring your own food. The airline will probably not provide anything but water, coffee, tea - and maybe soft drinks - free. The food that is usually on offer for purchase in flight is largely overpriced junk !

There is NO customs declaration form to complete before arrival in St Maarten (but there is on your return flight to the US), however there IS a white Immigration form (which you should receive at the departure gate in Ft Lauderdale - if you do not, ASK for one). Sometimes they are issued during the flight, but it is essential to have it completed before going through passport control on arrival.

The form requires your personal details, flight number, address where you will be staying, for how long, purpose of visit etc.

Make sure that you have this readilly available when you arrive - so have a pen easily to hand if you need to fill in this document on the plane.

When you arrive at St Maarten, follow the mob to the immigration control. Get in the LEFT lane (the right lane is reserved for Dutch passport holders and island residents).

There your passport will be scanned, stamped, and the white form removed. In return you will be issued with a small white piece of thin card to hand in when your passport is examined on departure. Try not to lose it !

There are no customs formalities, so just collect your checked luggage from the carousel and walk straight out. As there are no baggage trolleys in the arrival area until you get outside the baggage hall (though porters are available) try to keep your checked luggage light - you won't need heavy clothing here anyway.

If you are renting a car, most of the car rental companies have booths right opposite the exit doors from the baggage hall. All rental cars are kept off airport, so your rental company will provide a shuttle service to and from their location. Remember this fact on the day of your departure, and allow sufficient time to check your car back in and to get to the airport itself in time to meet the airline check in requirements.

As Doug Stallings points out, any liquor (or other fluids/ creams etc.) purchased during your stay MUST be packed (carefully) in your checked luggage when you leave.

You can purchse additional liquor etc in the 'duty free' area after exiting passport control when you leave, BUT any liquids etc. will have to be packed into your checked luggage for your flight from Ft Lauderdale to Chicago. You will collect your luggage on arrival in Ft Lauderdale, pass through customs, and re-check bags for your flight to Chicago.

As the entire island is duty free, and the shoreside prices are often better than those in the airport 'duty free' stores, it is worth shopping before you leave in order to avoid the hassle of opening already full bags to fill them even more with your airport purchases before checking in for your connecting flight in Ft Lauderdale.

Enjoy yourself, and don't forget to bring sun tan lotion - in your checked baggage of course !

Oh, and by the way please give my regards to the bartenders in Gibsons - my favorite bar in the USA !!
DavidSXM is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 06:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 686
there are now customs in st. maarten...sometimes. there are no customs forms to fill out, but after you collect your luggage, and begin to exit the terminal, you will pass through the customs area. Sometimes there are customs people there, sometimes not. They do not check every flight.
All they do is put your luggage through a scanner.

The advice given above by other posters is excellent.
Basically just follow the crowds and you will be fine.
if you are unsure, just ask a question. there are always people around..including fellow help out.
Barbara1 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 11:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2
Thanks so much everybody! I feel better already : )
moosecheese is offline  
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