Logo   USA Immigration & Customs Regulations
In general, customs officers are accommodating, even with small excess amounts of dutiable items, if you make a full declaration and don't try to hide anything from them.



Immigration and customs inspections are carried out by the US Customs and Border Protection division of the US Department of Homeland Security.

This Page is NOT Official!

The information on this page of is not official, and is meant only to assist you in finding the official USA government information you may require. The only official sources of information are US government websites and US government offices such as diplomatic missions (embassies and consulates). If you have questions about any aspect of entry into the USA, or Immigration and Customs regulations, please refer to official USA government sources.

Here are tips on how to prepare to enter the USA:

1. Visa-Waiver Program

First, determine if you require a visa to enter the USA, or whether you can take advantage of the visa-waiver program. If your passport is from one of the 38 countries in the visa-waiver program, you may not need to apply for a visa at a US consulate in your home country. You may be able to enter the USA for up to 90 days without first obtaining a visa.

Here are the visa-waiver countries as of July 2016:

Czech Republic

Korea, Republic of

New Zealand
San Marino
United Kingdom

2. E-Passport

Second, assure that you have an e-passport, one with " a machine-readable zone on the biographic page" and "an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner."


If your passport has this symbol on the cover, it's an e-passport:

E-passport symbol

3. Digital Passport Photo?

You may be required to have a passport with a digital photo printed on the passport page, not a separate photo that has been attached to the page. More...

4. Electronic System for
Travel Authorization (ESTA)

If you are eligible to trave to the USA under the visa-waiver program and you have a passport with the required features, the final step to complete before you leave home is to register online with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

You should apply for your ESTA authorization as soon as you know you will be visiting the USA. It's strongly suggested that you apply online at least 72 hours before departure for the USA to help assure that you will receive your authorization in time to enter. You may apply with even less time before departure, but if there is a complication you may not receive your ESTA authorization in time, and you might be denied entry to the USA. More...

Communicable Disease

Your ESTA application may be denied if you have "communicable disease of public health significance." (HIV-AIDS, which was legally classified as such a disease until November 2009, is no longer so classified, and is no longer grounds for denying a person entry into the USA.)

What Not To Bring

Do not bring foodstuffs, especially fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, plant cuttings, or other "plant propagative material" without specific permission obtained in advance. If it's important to you to bring in a specific food, or an animal, consult the US Customs and Border Protection website or contact a US embassy or consulate in your home country and ask how this can be accomplished.

It is legal to import and export currency or negotiable instruments (US dollars, other currencies, travellers checks, bearer bonds, etc.), but amounts of $10,000 or more must be declared to Customs officers. They will help you to fill in the currency import or export form.

Onward Travel After Entry

It's best to allow at least two hours between the arrival time of your international flight and any onward flight in order to complete Immigration and Customs formalities, retrieve your luggage, walk to your onward boarding gate, check in, etc.

Coming from Canada, Bermuda, Caribbean

Coming from Canada, US customs and immigration formalities are much faster, whether you come by road, rail, or air.

Some Canadian, Bermudian, and Caribbean airports have US customs and immigration officers who clear travelers even before they board their US-bound flights.

For complete information, see these websites:

US Customs & Border Protection

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

US Department of Homeland Security

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