US Customs-what can I expect?

May 7th, 2007, 04:41 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 270
US Customs-what can I expect?

I will be returning from Spain and I will be coming in through Newark. I have never been through customs before as all my previous overseas travel was done in the military. What can I expect to happen going through customs. As always any help is appreciated!
brmsimmons is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 04:50 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,449
If you're honest about what you're declaring, it should be a breeze.

I've found when I've arrived at Newark - and I've done it multiple times on International flights - the wait at customs varied by what other flights were arriving. When I arrived the same time as a flight from Eastern Europe and India, they had their hands full and generally were less likely to grill Americans who were coming back with the usual tourist stuff.

If you bring back food (especially Iberian Ham) and flowers/etc., you probably will have your bags inspected.
Ryan is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 05:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
You can expect to go back through Security if you have a connecting flight.

The wait will depend on how many others are going through, as Ryan has advised, and on how many agents are on duty.

Be honest about your declarations and their value.
Dukey is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 06:30 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,199
You can expect nothing to happen if you don't have anything to declare. The cbp officer will probably look at your form and then maybe stamp it and wave you on.

But your are probably also asking about passport control. When you get to the hall where those folks are there will be two lines: one for US pp holders and one for foreigners. You wait in line, go to the window that is available, present your passport and then maybe the agent will ask a couple of questions and then stamp the passport and maybe the customs declaration (that the flight attendants passed around and that you filled out on the plane).

That is what you should expect.

Now, if one of those pesky CBP beagles smells a Hong Kong apple in your carry-on after you told the CBP person that you didn't have any food, then the person will put a special "idiot" mark on your customs form and your bag will be searched when you get to customs. Don't ask how I know this.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 08:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,019
Just be happy you are NOT returning to Atlanta. There EVERBODY has to go through a full security check AGAIN. TSA does not trust foreigners, and international passengers cannot be segregated into destination and continuing subsets.

One of my pet peeves is to have to go through security just to get into my own house!!

But with the poor design of Hartsfield, and the paranoia of TSA, there is no other choice.
bob_brown is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 17,549
I ahve often wondered how many people come back from Europe, especially the first time, and haven't bought anything?

I've done it but only on subsequent trips.
Dukey is offline  
May 8th, 2007, 05:58 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 3,528
Get familar with US Customs and Border Protection regulations before you return. Here's a link to the document "Know Before You Go". It should explain everything to you.
bennnie is offline  

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