Customs officers monitor things brought into a country. Since every country bans, limits and licenses items differently, you will need to research what needs declaring to prevent headaches at the border. This includes taxable products purchased on vacation.
Although walking through customs usually doesn’t take too long, you can face delays if an officer deems your answers or documentation insufficient. Impromptu investigations at the airport can take a considerable amount of time, so it’s best to be as transparent and helpful as possible. Here are a few suggestions for avoiding such unnecessary hold-ups.
Book Late Morning to Early Afternoon Flights
If travelling through an airport, schedule flights outside of busy times. Early and late weekday arrivals experience the least congestion. This means fewer people standing in line to pass through customs.
Travel Light and Strategically
If possible, bring only a carry-on case and skip baggage checks altogether. Alternatively, pack just a suitcase to get rid of clutter on the plane. The fewer items you walk through security with, the less inspection they must do. That said, loading up your suitcase may result in additional charges.
Regardless which packing strategy you take, note which of your belongings requires declaration. Getting all documents, permits and proofs-of-ownership together early can expedite processing times. Similarly, filling out the provided paperwork leisurely beforehand takes away border-passing stress.
Opt to Use the Electronic Check-In Kiosks
Most airports and train stations now have self-serve kiosks for scanning passports, reserving seats and answering routine questions. The receipt printed from these machines is your fast-track through customs.
Note that some North American airports now offer similar apps. The final confirmation screen gets handed to a customs officer who confirms clearance or prompts an interview. Either through the app or kiosk, these systems help customs officials vet travellers faster.