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CBP Reminds Travelers to 'Know Before You Go'

Refresh Your Knowledge of Border Crossing Requirements

WASHINGTON— With many individuals planning to enjoy the upcoming spring and summer travel season, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is reminding travelers to be prepared by educating themselves on the rules and regulations relating to international travel.

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 (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry or FAST/EXPRES), 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. 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 passport book for international air travel.

A radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled travel document such as a U.S. passport card, border crossing card or permanent resident card issued after 2008, enhanced driver’s license/enhanced identification card or trusted traveler card expedites entry and makes crossing at a land border more efficient. There are more than 13 million RFID-enabled travel documents issued and Ready Lanes have been deployed to 20 land border crossing locations throughout the nation, specifically designated for travelers with RFID-enabled cards.

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.

Trusted Traveler Programs

CBP recommends its Trusted Traveler Programs (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST/EXPRES) as the most efficient way to cross the border from Mexico or Canada. Trusted Traveler Programs allow for the use of expedited lanes in the land environment or kiosks at airports speeding travelers through the entry process. For more information or to apply for a Trusted Traveler Program, please visit the Travel section of the CBP website.

Small Vessel Reporting

Boaters looking for a new, faster way to report their arrival and/or apply for a registered boater program may use the CBP ROAM app, available for free on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Current SVRS registration numbers may be used within the CBP Reporting Offsite Arrival - Mobile (ROAM) for expedited processing. Boaters may also continue to report their arrival via designated telephone reporting numbers, if desired.

For more information about the CBP ROAM application, please visit the CBP ROAM webpage.

Travel Tips

Tip #1 – To avoid fines and penalties associated with importing prohibited items, travelers should familiarize themselves with CBP rules and regulations. For more information, please go to the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP website.

Tip #2 – Be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad. Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth and have their approved travel documents ready.

Tip #3 – Monitor border Wait Times for various ports of entry. For more information, travelers can find up to date wait time information on the CBP website. Travelers are encouraged to plan their trips during periods of lighter traffic or to use an alternate, less heavily traveled port of entry.

Tip #4 – Build extra time into the trip in the event of crossing during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic.

Tip #5 – Know the difference between goods for personal use versus commercial use. For more information, please visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website.

Tip #6 – Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and/or firewood into the United States without first checking whether they are permitted. For more information, please visit the Bringing Agricultural Products Into the United States section of the CBP website.

Tip #7 – International travelers should expect a thorough inspection, even during busy holiday periods, when entering the United States.

Tip #8 – If you are a frequent international traveler and haven’t already become a member of a trusted traveler program, sign up now. For more information, please visit the Trusted Traveler section of the CBP website.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terriost weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.