When flying overseas, you will have the experience of going though customs.
Questions we get asked a lot are, “what happens at customs?’, and “what do I need to do in order to be prepared for customs?”
For those of you who aren’t familiar, customs (aka passport control), is a procedure at the airport where a customs officer checks goods, luggages and interviews the traveler coming in. It sounds a lot scarier than it is – let us break it down for you!
Here is what to expect when going through customs!
I’ll be honest – I’m not an expert on customs around the world, however, after flying to several places in Europe, I’ve noticed the customs procedure is pretty much the same thing no matter where I’ve flown to/from!
When I first flew to England, I had no idea what to expect. This was my first long distance relationship and my first time flying internationally by myself. Again, I cannot assure you that this will be your experience, but these are one of the many things to expect!
On the plane, you will be given an arrival card to fill out.
This particular one is the same card I had to fill out!
On these arrival cards, you will have to fill out the following information:
- Your full name
- Your birthday
- Who you’re traveling with
- Where you were born
- Passport number
- Country of residence
- Countries visited during your trip
- Flight number
- Purpose of your trip
- If you’re declaring any items
and also a few other yes or no questions.
When you land, you will have to find the customs line that you fit under. For example, it might say ‘USA Passports’, or ‘EU and All Other Passports’. Once you’re on the line and get to your turn, you will have to give the customs officer your landing card.
I’ve noticed that they’ve never really paid too much attention to it – Instead, they ask questions in real-time. As I’ve been traveling back and forth for 4 years, the questions seemed to get more in depth each time.
If it’s your first time traveling overseas, then some of the questions you should expect to be asked are:
- How long are you traveling here for?
- Why are you traveling here?
- What are your plans during this trip?
- What is the address of where will you be staying?
If you mentioned that you’re visiting your long distance partner, then you might be asked:
- How did you guys meet?
- How long have you been together?
Now, if you’re constantly traveling back and forth like I am, sometimes they will ask you more intense questions, such as:
- What are your future plans – are they moving to your country, or will you be moving here?
- How many times have you been here before?
- What were the exact days that you were here in the past?
It could definitely get intimidating, so make sure to be prepared. You’re not doing anything illegal, so don’t panic! (Unless you are, then maybeee you shouldn’t be traveling or doing that in the first place, lol!)
After answering questions, you might have to scan your fingerprint – this isn’t always necessary, but some airports require this.
After you’re done answering their questions and providing your fingerprint, tada – you’re through!
Unfortunately, you might encounter a customs officer who will use their power to its fullest… I’ve had some bad experiences, including one where I was told I had to leave the UK in 2 weeks – even though I was there legally! He didn’t like the idea of me traveling to the UK as often as I do, so he gave me a hard time and had me contact my boyfriend to assure him our relationship is real. Seems like he didn’t believe it, considering he stamped my passport and made me leave by a specific date! He informed me that my boyfriend and I should get married ASAP to make this process easier. We were 20 and 22 years old and definitely not ready for such a big step! Thankfully, that hasn’t happened since, but just be aware, that you may encounter uncomfortable situations if you’re traveling often.
So, that’s a list of what to expect when going through customs! We hope this will help ease your nerves because we know this process could be confusing and/or scary!
What was your process of going through customs like? Have you had a different experience to the one above? We’d love to know!