• Traveler tips: Getting through customs

    CWT Savvy Traveler
    Is international travel a regular part of your travel routine? If so, then you’re likely familiar with the information below. But for travelers who may only travel internationally on an infrequent basis, below are some tips and information regarding customs processes to keep in mind before, during, and after your trip.


    Before traveling

    Check the U.S. State Department website or the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website for entry requirements as well as travel alerts and warnings for your destination.

    Research your destination to be sure you know what items are not permitted to be brought into the country. Some countries may have restrictions on certain plants, animals, food products or hazardous materials.

    During your trip

    Before purchasing items at your destination, make sure you know whether they are permitted to be brought back to your home country. Certain foods and beverages are among the list of prohibited items. U.S. residents should check page 30 of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “Know before you go” document, and Canadian residents should check the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) website, for additional details about restricted and prohibited items.


    Returning home

    When traveling home (to the United States or Canada) from an international location, a traveler will be required to clear customs at their first port of arrival in their home country. If they’re continuing on to another destination within that country, they will not have to clear customs a second time at their final destination.

    U.S. travelers who have been cleared at one of the CBP preclearance locations in Canada, the Caribbean, or Ireland, will not have to clear customs again upon arriving in the United States. Additional information about these locations is available on the CBP website.

    Declaring items: You will need to declare anything you’ve acquired while traveling abroad. You will need to fill out a declaration form outlining these items. CBP recommends the following tips to make the process easier:

    • Keep your receipts
    • Pack the items you’ll be declaring separately
    • Pay close attention to the signs in the arrival area so you go to the correct line


    Identification needed: Be sure you have your passport, passport card, trusted traveler card* or other acceptable identification documents upon your return to the United States or Canada. See the CBP’s “Know Before You Go” document, or the CBSA website for a list of acceptable identification.

    *U.S. Trusted Traveler programs include Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI

    • Global Entry is a program that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers access to automated self-service kiosks for expedited clearance when arriving in the United States.
    • NEXUS is a program by which approved members traveling by air, land, or sea between the United States and Canada are offered access to expedited border passage.
    • SENTRI is a program by which approved members traveling by land or sea between the United States and Mexico are offered access to expedited border passage.
    • Note: members of all three programs may also be eligible to participate in the TSA PreCheck program for expedited security screening at participating U.S. airports.


    *Canadian Trusted Traveler programs include NEXUS (described above) and CANPASS:

    • CANPASS is a series of programs through which low-risk, pre-approved travelers are offered access to expedited border clearance.


    For additional information on traveling abroad, Canadians can check the CBSA website, and U.S. residents can check the “Know before you go” document from the CBP.

    Do you have any tips for a smooth customs experience? Tell us in the comments below.

    Safe Travels!

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