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Customs: Truthful declarations can help avoid delays during busy summer travel season

The Caribbean is among the most favored destinations for travelers during the summer whether flying or enjoying a cruise ship.
 
“While we invite visitors to enjoy all the wonders Puerto Rico, the USVI and our neighboring Caribbean islands offer, we encourage everyone to learn about the CBP process to make their traveling quick and smooth,” said Alfonso Robles, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Planning ahead and adopting these travel tips can save time and lead to a less stressful trip,” he said.

Last summer, CBP processed more than 114 million international travelers at U.S. ports of entry around the country, the agency stated.

CBP officers at international airports, cruise terminals, and at Preclearance facilities (in Aruba, Bermuda and the Bahamas) are “ready for the additional traffic expected over this three-month period,” it said.

Travelers are encouraged to plan and to consider the following tips to ensure a smooth and efficient CBP processing experience.

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; do not pack them. More information about approved travel documents for entry into the U.S. as well as country specific information is available at travel.state.gov.

Pleasure boaters: If you enjoy boating in the Caribbean and you are navigating from and to a port or place, you are required to report arrival to CBP immediately.  The CBP ROAM app is a free mobile application that provides an option for pleasure boaters to report their U.S. entry to CBP via their personal smart device or a tablet located at local businesses to satisfy the above reporting requirements.

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 food:Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. If you have questions about what food is allowed or not allowed in to the U.S. visit cbp.gov and remember don’t pack a pest!

Declare gifts: Gifts 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 (forbidden by law to enter the U.S.) and restricted merchandise (items needing special permit to be allowed into the U.S.). For more information, visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website.

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. Travelers are advised to carry just personal-use quantities; a rule of thumb is no more than a 90-day supply. If medications or devices are not in their original containers, travelers should carry a copy of the prescription or a letter from the prescribing doctor.

Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the U.S. In addition, dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination. All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, or wildlife requirements and prohibitions. The regulations about bringing a pet into the U.S. are the same whether you drive over the U.S. border with your pet in your car, fly, or travel by other means. Pets taken out of the U.S. and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. For more information about traveling with a pet to a foreign country or bringing a pet into the U.S., visit APHIS’s pet travel.

Travelers carrying more than $10,000: There is no limit to how much currency a traveler can bring in or out of the U.S.; however, U.S. federal law requires travelers to report total currency more than $10,000. Currency includes all forms of monetary instruments. Travelers who fail to truthfully report all of their currency risk their currency being seized and may face criminal charges.

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.

For your next international trip, consider joining the ranks of the Trusted Traveler. Trusted Traveler members enrolled in Global Entry continue to enjoy the most expedited CBP processing experience. Trusted Traveler members retain their membership for five years. 

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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