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“Know before you visit” – CBP’s tips for visitors to the U.S.
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) today launched a traveler awareness campaign to inform the millions of visitors who will travel to the United States this holiday season. CBP's priority mission is to keep terrorist and terrorist weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating the flow of trade and travelers. For a speedy and trouble free entry into the U.S., visitors are reminded to ensure that they have the proper documentation and are well informed on U.S. entry requirements and procedures.

"The United States is a welcoming nation," said Commissioner Bonner. "While CBP has stepped up security at the land, sea, and air ports of entry across our country, we are committed to treat the entry of every legitimate traveler as professionally and fast as possible. By knowing the regulations and what to expect, all international visitors can facilitate their entries and have safe, secure, and enjoyable visits to the United States."
  • On your way to the United States you may be given a Customs and Border Protection declaration form. Fill it out entirely and sign the bottom. You may also be given a form I-94 (white) or a form I-94W (green). This will ask you for basic identification information and the full address where you will be staying in the United States.

  • When you arrive at a port of entry in the United States you will be inspected by an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Be prepared to tell the officer the purpose of your trip and how long you wish to stay.

  • Most travelers will have a digital photo and two finger scans taken by the officer. This will only add a few seconds to the interview. Be sure to follow the instructions of the CBP officer.

  • Make sure you have a valid nonimmigrant visa and a passport valid for six months beyond your initial stay in the United States. There are some exceptions to this requirement.

  • If you are a temporary visitor for business or pleasure, and wish to stay for up to six months, you must apply for a B1/B2 visa at the U.S. Consulate in your country.

  • If you are planning to travel for another purpose, e.g. student, temporary worker, crewperson, journalist etc. you must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category through the Department of State at an American Embassy or Consulate abroad.

  • If you are a citizen of a visa waiver country, you may apply for entry without a visa if you are seeking entry for 90 days or less for business or pleasure. Check to make sure your intended purpose of travel falls within the guidelines.

  • If you stayed beyond the 90 days allowed under the Visa Waiver Program on your last visit to the U.S.—you are required to get a visa (at a U.S. Consulate in your country) for your next visit to the United States.

  • Remember, even though certain individuals may be exempt from visa and/or passport requirements, the burden of proof is on the applicant to establish eligibility to enter the United States. Carrying proof of citizenship will help determine this

  • Some items may be prohibited from entry, have to meet certain requirements, or require a license or permit. If you would like to bring in any of the following, make sure you find out the rules and regulations concerning them:

    • Absinthe
    • Biological materials
    • Endangered species and their products
    • Wildlife
    • Meat, poultry, eggs and their products
    • Fruits, vegetables and plants
    • Hazardous materials
    • Weapons

  • There is no limit to the amount of money (U.S. or foreign) you may bring into or take out of the United States. If you have more than 10,000 dollars or foreign equivalent, however, you must report this to the Customs and Border Protection officer upon entry and/or departure.

  • Medicine containing habit-forming drugs must be clearly identified. Carry only the amount you normally need. Also bring a prescription or statement from your physician explaining that the medicine is necessary for your well being.
This is a brief overview of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements. Visiting the United States describes the rules in detail. A copy of this brochure can be ordered at CBP's web site at You may also call and request a copy from U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C., at 1-877-CBP-5511 or 202-354-1000.

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