10 ways to avoid being flagged at customs on your next trip
One of the most stressful parts of international travel is going through customs. Most of the time, going through the necessary security check is simply a matter of answering a few questions and then being sent on your way.
Sometimes, though, there are things a person can do that will get them flagged (and in trouble). To ensure that doesn’t happen to you the next time you return from a flight, avoid doing these eight things.
Going Way Over Your Duty Free Limit
According to Smarter Travel, a sure way of inviting that dreaded delay at customs is to spend more than the allowed duty free amount during your trip. In Canada, you can bring in goods to the amount of $200 if you’ve been out of the country for between 24 and 48 hours and up to $800 if you’ve been away longer.
Not Having a Return or Onward Ticket
According to the website Travel Insurance, border officials may ask you to show your return or onward ticket as proof that you won’t be staying on for an indefinite period if you’re not a citizen of the country you’re entering. Alternatively, they can ask for proof that you have enough money to buy that ticket.
Returning From Certain Countries
Smarter Travel says that travel from some countries and regions immediately raises suspicion and searches will be more thorough if you return after a visit to one of these areas. This is especially true of countries or regions on the drug routes, such as Central America and South East Asia, or countries with more relaxed drug laws, like The Netherlands.
Having Had Previous Run-ins With the Law
A Reddit AMA with a retired Canadian border security official reveals that previous run-ins with the law, whether it’s a criminal record or past altercations with border officials, may pop up on the customs official’s computer screen. These incidents may make the official feel compelled to take a closer look.
Having Visited Certain Countries in the Past
According to Smarter Travel, simply having a stamp from a certain country in your passport can get you flagged, even if that stamp is several years old. Several countries in the Middle East, for instance, may deny you entry if you have visited Israel before.
Having a Bad Attitude
The website Become Nomad says that having a bad attitude, such as being disrespectful or smug, can make customs officials more inclined to search you. On a Reddit AMA, a retired Canadian border official confirms that you may also raise suspicion if you appear nervous.
Wearing or Carrying Dirty Hiking Boots
According to Smarter Travel, hiking boots can still carry traces of soil, water or seeds from another country and this can bring alien species into the country you’re entering. For some countries, for example Australia and New Zealand, this is a big issue and you need to declare your boots so they can be cleaned.
Using a Camera or Cellphone
According to Smarter Travel, using your camera or cellphone in the customs processing area can cause officials to confiscate the device. In most countries, it’s illegal to take pictures at customs.
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