Op-Ed: Customs offers travel tips for Easter holiday
More than 5 million individuals are processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in a year arriving from international destinations at all ports of entry in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
CBP officers inspect passengers for compliance with immigration, customs and agriculture regulations. The more international travelers know about what to expect, the easier and quicker the process becomes.
In preparation for the Easter holiday travel season, CBP’s San Juan Field Office is encouraging travelers to distinguish the rules and regulations concerning to arriving at any port from international travel.
“Travelers can improve their own experience by being prepared and aware of the requirements when entering United States territories in the Caribbean,” said Marcelino Borges, director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and USVI.
Tourists, U.S. Citizens (USC) and legal residents can take additional steps to smooth their arrivals process by familiarizing themselves with U.S. rules and regulations before departing to avoid potential penalties and fines upon their return.
Upon arrival to a U.S. port of entry, travelers must declare the following:
• Items you purchased and are carrying with you upon return to the United States.
• Items you bought in duty-free shops, on the ship, or on the plane.
• Repairs or alterations to any items you took abroad and then brought back, even if the repairs/alterations were performed free of charge.
• Items you brought home for someone else.
• Items you intend to sell or use in your business, including business merchandise that you took out of the United States on your trip.
Travel requirements for U.S. citizens
Individuals traveling abroad must have approved travel documents when returning home. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable travel document, such as a passport, a U.S. passport card, a trusted traveler card, permanent resident card or an enhanced driver’s license that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea.
U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the Western Hemisphere and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship (Closed Loop Cruises) may present a government issued photo ID, along with proof of citizenship (birth certificate, Consular report of Birth Abroad or Certificate of Naturalization.)
U.S. and Canadian citizens under age 16 may present a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship when entering by land or sea. All travelers must have a valid passport, U.S. Military ID with official orders, Merchant Mariner’s Document for USC’s on official maritime business, or Permanent Resident card for international air travel.
Travel requirements for visitors to the U.S.
All nationals or citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are required to have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the United States. CBP recommends ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans.