What you need to need to know before you cross the border

What you need to need to know before you cross the border
Posted at 12:36 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 12:36:53-04

If you're planning to do a little traveling this summer the U.S. Customs and Border Protection encourages you to "Know Before You Go".

Last summer, CBP officers processed more than 108.3 million international travelers at U.S. ports of entry.

So how can you ensure a smooth and efficient processing experience?

Use these tips to help you prepare.

  • Travel Documents: Travelers should have appropriate passports and any other associated travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing or visiting a foreign country.  Remember to carry these documents with you, do not pack them.
  • Familiarize yourself with Automated Passport Control (APC) and Mobile Passport Control: These two programs are making the entry process more efficient, intuitive and paperless for travelers.
  • Declare goods: Truthfully declare everything you are bringing from abroad including duty-free items. If duty is applicable, credit cards or cash payment in U.S. currency is acceptable.
  • Declare foods: Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country.
  • Monitor border wait times: Download the Border Wait Time app or use the border crossings wait times website to plan your trip across the border. 
  • Declare gifts: Gift you bring back for your personal use must be declared, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts people gave you while you were out of the country and gifts you have brought back for others.
  • Prohibited vs. Restricted: Know the difference between prohibited merchandise (which is forbidden by law to enter the United States) and restricted merchandise (items needing special permit to be allowed into the United States).
  • Traveling with medication: Travelers must declare all medicine and similar products when entering the United States. Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor's prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply.
  • Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the United States. In addition, dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination.
  • Report Traveling with $10,000 or more: There is no limit to how much currency you may take in or out of the United States; however, U.S. federal law requires you to report your total currency of $10,000 or more.
  • For citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is required before boarding an aircraft. For those traveling by air or sea on a visa, CBP has automated the Form I-94 removing the need for travelers to fill out a paper copy. Travelers will still be able to obtain their I-94 number and/or a copy of their I-94 online.