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Customs Control: how to avoid a bad moment

The moment of passport and border control, after arrival at the chosen destination, is usually one of the most stressful moments of the trip for many passengers. And it is that, in said control, there is usually an interrogation by the agents that, according to the country of destination and the origin of the passenger, can be more or less rigorous. And you may also get a more strict or even grumpy person, which can lead to a nervous situation on the part of the passenger, who if he does not manage to calm down and respond correctly, could have a bad time.


- As a first step, before embarking on the trip, make sure you have the documentation requested by the destination country, a valid passport with a minimum expiration date of 6 months or more, if your stay is longer. If you need a visa, vaccination certification, and health test.

- Likewise, complete the forms that are required of you before arriving at the appointment with the control agent. Some you will have to do online before you leave, and others you can do during the flight. In some countries, you will have a pre-meeting check with staff, where you are asked to scan your passport into a machine and take a photo. There are usually airport staff to help you if you can't figure it out on your own.

- Once the meeting with the immigration staff has arrived, under all circumstances remain calm and show yourself confident with the answers to be given. If when it is your turn you arrive very hesitant or nervous, it may arouse some suspicion on the part of the control staff and ask you more questions than usual.

- Don't answer anything you don't understand. If they ask you questions that you do not understand because of the language or lack of knowledge, ask for help. Especially this is important when you have to fill out the entry forms in certain countries. It is important that you do not sign anything that you do not understand.

- Don't over explain. Answer only what they ask you and do not want to give more explanations than necessary. Sometimes by wanting to explain more, you can complicate yourself.

- Never lie. If you have everything in order and your intentions are good, there is no reason to lie.

- Don't make jokes. Anything you say in immigration will be taken seriously by the agents, so it's best to avoid any kind of joke. Only if the agent is joking with you because he or she is in a good mood or likes you, can you celebrate with a smile or a nice comment.

- Do not take photos or video. Migration areas have very strict rules and these include no taking photos or videos. If possible, it is better not to even use the cell phone (although it is not always prohibited).

What do they usually ask?

If you do not have the nationality or residence of your destination, it is very likely that the immigration agent on duty will ask you some questions. Those countries that suffer from a lot of illegal immigration tend to be a little more rigorous in the interrogation. Or if they have many immigrants from a certain country that coincides with your nationality. Some of the possible questions that may be asked are:

- What is the reason for your visit?

Just limit yourself to answering the basics: eg. "for tourism", "to visit a relative or friend", "for work", "to study", etc. according to your case.
Keep in mind that if you say "for work", make sure you have a work permit or visa and have the documentation of the company that sponsors you. If you say for study, also have your student visa and details of the educational establishment to hand.

Under no circumstances say "I'm here to do tourism and see if I can get a job", because if you don't have a work visa, they may deny you entry.

- Is it your first time here?

- Where are you going to stay?

It is very important to have a reservation for at least a couple of nights in a hotel and to have the reservation details at hand in case you are asked. Or have the address, tel. and name of the person where you will stay. They could ask you what the person hosting you does for a living. Do not arrive at immigration without having a place to stay.

- How long are you coming?

Never say for a period of time greater than your visa or agreement with the nationality where you come from.

- How much money are you carrying?

Give them the most exact amount possible of the cash you carry and it is very important that you have international credit and debit cards. In some countries like Spain for example, they require a minimum daily average of 100 euros per day. That is to say that if you go for 30 days, you would have to have 3000 euros (although if you show international credit and debit cards) they will not require that amount in cash.

Remember that you cannot exceed 10 thousand dollars or euros in cash per person or family group. In other words, if you go with your partner, the limit is 10 thousand in total. (unless you have valid international documentation that certifies and justifies the origin of said funds). The reason for this is basically to prevent money laundering.

- Do you have health insurance?

You should always have travel coverage (even if they don't always ask for it at immigration). It's for your safety. In the European Union, the minimum insurance coverage required is around 30,000 euros and in the United States, 30,000 dollars. Some credit cards grant it to you, or by contracting through an insurance agency.

Situations that could happen to you

Why can they send me to the "little room" or to a second review?

Ending up in a second migration review is much more common than you think. If for some reason the immigration agent entered one of your data incorrectly, if they have someone in the database with similar or equal data to yours (same name, same date of birth...), if they think you don't look like the photo of your passport or if they have any additional questions about the reason for your trip (they have thought that you want to stay illegally in the country or you do not have all the necessary requirements).
The normal thing in these cases is that they only require additional time to corroborate your information and, in many cases, without further questions they let you go. In some cases, this time can be very long, but the important thing is not to despair or stress.


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