Holiday Border

Tips for Quicker Holiday Border Crossing Experience

The US Border Patrol is advising international travelers of useful travel tips, and of the traffic management measures being implemented to facilitate their crossing the US/Mexico border this holiday season.

S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials are anticipating an increase in border traffic as the holiday season approaches. As a result, the agency is adjusting staffing during the weeks ahead to address the anticipated increase. CBP’s Office of Field Operations is offering a number of tips to travelers to expedite the border crossing experience and travel beyond the border zone.

CBP will place as many officers as possible in areas where they will be able to process traffic as quickly as possible and will closely monitor traffic and keep lanes open as the traffic dictates.

“With the holiday season upon us, we are reaching out to advise the community of useful travel tips, and of the traffic management measures we are implementing that can help facilitate their crossing the US/Mexico border” said Director, Field Operations David P. Higgerson, Laredo Field Office. “Obtaining ‘radiofrequency-enabled travel documents’ to utilize the ‘Ready Lanes’ is one of the simplest and most effective things a traveler can do that will yield true processing time savings at the international bridges.”

The holiday travel season has historically been a period when people who are infrequent border crossers travel to and from the United States. US Border Patrol is urging international travelers to be prepared if they approach an interior inspection checkpoint as they travel away from the border zone.

CBP is also offering a series of tips to help border area travelers. The tips are useful because the holiday travel season is usually a time when people who are unfamiliar with CBP protocols cross the border and travel to the interior of the US. Regular border crossers also typically cross more frequently to shop, visit family and friends, and attend holiday related events. Adopting the strategies provided by CBP can help travelers cross the border quickly, safely, and without incident.

• Tip #1 – Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Please have crossing documents available for the inspection including a “Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative” (WHTI) approved document for US citizens. (More information on WHTI available here.)

• Tip #2 – Travelers should declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.

 

• Tip #3 – Travelers should build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic. This includes SENTRI/Dedicated Commuter Lane users. (SENTRI provides expedited CBP processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Applicants must voluntarily undergo a thorough biographical background check against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, and terrorist indices; a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check; and a personal interview with a CBP Officer.)• Tip #4 – Travelers are encouraged to visit the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP website to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. Know Before You Go brochures are available at border ports.

• Tip #5 – Consult the CBP website at this link to monitor border crossing times. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.

• Tip #6 – During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative ports of entry.

• Tip #7 – Visit the port of entry to obtain I-94 travel documents in advance of the busiest holiday travel periods. This will allow travelers who require I-94 documents (those planning to travel beyond the border zone or stay in the US for more than 30 days) to bypass those lines when they formally enter the US. They will still be subject to the inspection process.

• Tip #8 – Travelers approaching an interior Border Patrol checkpoint should have their documents ready to present to the US Border Patrol agent if asked. This will save time.

• Tip #9 – Drivers should ensure that their vehicles are properly maintained and mechanically sound and that occupants avoid riding in areas of vehicles not specifically designed to carry passengers. Failure to follow these steps can expose crossers/passengers to carbon monoxide.

• Tip #10 – Travelers should consider obtaining radio frequency identification technology-enabled (RFID) travel documents such as a US passport card or newer versions of the laser visa or resident alien card so that they will be able to use the Ready Lane at select border crossings. For more information on Ready Lane requirements and obtaining RFID-enabled documents visit this link.

The principal mission of US Customs and Border Protection is anti-terrorism. CBP officers at border ports of entry and CBP agents at Border Patrol checkpoints are committed to identifying and stopping terrorists and the tools of terror. As a result, border crossers should continue to expect a thorough inspection process.

All international travelers are encouraged to visit the US Customs and Border Protection website.