View Full Version : Travelling to the USA

6th May 2008, 07:05
I'm travelling to the USA in June from NCL via CDG. I have not been to the US since 2001 and wondered if there are any formalities other than those published of which I should be aware. Any info gratefully received.

6th May 2008, 08:23
Check out the passport requirements, scan readable etc.

6th May 2008, 09:26
Your point of entry, which you may not have much choice over, will have a significant effect on how painless an experience entry is into the US. In the last couple of years I've gone in through MIA, LAX and IAH, none of them being particularly pleasant with the latter taking the longest.. walk off the plane to jumping in the Taxi - a little over 2 hours in the middle of the day... Total sense of humour failure about being queried about the accuracy of the Zip Code on my Immigration Form... What's that got to do with anything?... As a family we used to go to the US regularly on holiday - now we avoid it and the weakness of the $ is not incentive enough... way too much travel hassle, which is a shame 'cos it's a great place to visit.

6th May 2008, 11:02
It is just worth bearing in mind that if you dont fill in the I-94 correctly, they more often then not send you away to fill in a new one and you have to join the back of the queue. Seen it done many times but not had it happen to me yet.

It is also worth bearing in mind that some of the immigration people do not like people referring to their nationality as English/Welsh/Scottish. A friend of mine recanted a story of a discussion he had with an immigration officer as he did not like being called British. As spiney stated, most of them have a total sense of humour failure.

6th May 2008, 12:11
We flew into New York (admittedly about 3 years ago)- from the Middle East - and it was one of the most painless immigration processes we have been through............it took about 20 minutes - so it definitely depends on where you land.........LAX, even before 9/11 was atrocious!!

8th May 2008, 18:56
Thanks for all that; what about on departure from the EU? Don't we have to register our names and addresses prior to boarding?

8th May 2008, 19:08
No, you don't need to send anything because the airline will send all your data to the US authorities before you depart.

On arrival expect some questions about where you are going and why. It doesn't look so good if you don't know the name of the friend you are visiting or the name of the hotel you are staying in. And *don't * try to be funny!

8th May 2008, 19:27
No problems with Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Orlando, San Francisco, as passenger entry. You are required to fill the visa form in correctly - your nationality should be as per your passport. Trying to be a 'smart-ass' will not get you very far. Just comply with the requirements and you will find it no problem at all. Queues are much shorter than I've experienced recently in Thailand. Remember, it's their game and their rules - entry is not automatic.

herman the crab
8th May 2008, 19:33
Used LAX regularly and never had a problem, longest queue was about 30 mins and still had to wait for baggage...

Be polite, co-operate, dont' ridcule the US or their customs/ways, answer questions they ask and provided you are 'legal' you won't have a problem.

At least the US has separate lines for their citizens unlike the UK where we share the queue and wait with the other EU passengers whilst non EU passenger whizz though the short line.


8th May 2008, 22:40
Since when do they scan your Iris????

9th May 2008, 13:43
retina scan??
I travel to USA every 6 weeks or so and I have never had an retina scan, you do now have fingerprints and a digital photo.
Maybe different at some but not for JFK, EWR, IAD, ORD, MIA, LAS, LAX, ATL, FLL, PHL, SFO

9th May 2008, 14:21
Moderately frequent traveller to IAD ... usually completely painless, inbound and outbound, although Immigration tends to be a bit of a queue/line if you're not one of the first off a large aircraft.

As has been said, readable passport, fill out the I-94 carefully to agree with what your passport says.

Have a good read of this ... http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm

Don't even think of carrying anything strange ... forget cigarette lighters, take off as much metallic stuff as you can [big watches, jewellery, belt buckles, keys. coins etc.]. If you don't have to have it on your person or in your carry-on, then don't!

And as Herman said, don't try and be smart with them ... THEY will always win. :)

9th May 2008, 19:03
I'll keep an eye out for the retina scan. Thanks for all info.

9th May 2008, 21:20
I enter the US at least once a month and think you will find it is a digital photograph rather than a retina scan. Interestingly, have noticed that the immigration officers all appear a lot more friendly and chatty in recent months, last week at JFK he was even laughing, maybe they have had some customer service training, some other countries could benefit from this.

10th May 2008, 06:36

BVI is another place I will be visiting soon.

10th May 2008, 17:02

I am afraid that immigration and customs here in the BVI definetly have a sense of humour failure and can often be rather rude. Enjoy the BVI when you get here.

Tight Accountant
19th May 2008, 22:33
I had similar concerns as I had not visited the USA since April 2000. Got to say passing through JFK was painless. Took one hour to go through Immigration and I was last off the B744! At Immigration, your photo is taken with a 'web-cam' type device and you are finger-printed (index fingers). Thankfully the finger printing is electronic; I had visions of old fashioned black ink!

Remember to fill in the green visa card properly as I forgot the reverse. Top tip, if you are a Brit. your country of origin is 'UK', not England, Wales, etc. Thankfully the BA CSD told us this on the aircraft, so top marks! :ok:

After Immigration, there was a few questions from the Customs officer, "are you bringing more that $10,000 to the USA?". I wish (!) but answer sensibly! You are asked if you are bringing 'food' or 'meat' into the country as well.

As mentioned above, took one hour. Don't joke with the officials, be polite etc. I also submitted my address in the USA when I booked my ticket online to cut down on possible hassle. Needless to say, BA having a dedicated terminal at JFK helps; can't comment on other airports in the USA. By the way, no hassle from the TSA on the return leg either.

As for the passport, it has to be machine readable but as I had a new shiny one from the British government, I had no concerns.

Lastly, if you thought the flight-crew escape this process, they don't! Hope this all helps. :)

20th May 2008, 12:12
Thanks all.:ok:

20th May 2008, 12:47
Deltayankee, you are absolutely right. Do NOT try out your humour on the passport people. They are completely lacking that gene.