When traveling, there’s nothing worse than being held up by immigration. What’s worse (and you can ask my friend who had this experience) is being detained overnight only to be deported the next day, without getting so much as a glance outside the airport. It’s an embarrassing, nerve racking and hellish experience to be avoided at all costs. Now of course every country has its own rules, but we’ve compiled a short list of things you can do to avoid being hassled by airport immigration.
- Have all necessary forms of documentaion readily available. Some countries require a visa, in addition to your passport, for entry. So if required, have the appropriate visas sorted beforehand. The worst thing you can do is get to the airport and be turned away for being illprepared. Also, for those who have yet to travel internationally, during the flight you’re given immigration forms. Make sure to have them filled out properly. If unsure it is being done correctly, ask a flight attendant. You don’t want to get to immigration and customs and have a problem because of something you wrote (FYI- be sure to have an address for your [host country] place of residence, as it is required on the immigration form).
- Be concise when speaking with immigration officials. Don’t offer up your whole life story, or more information than required. Instead, answer what is asked of you and nothing more. If you’re there on vacation, say just that. Don’t go into how you’d love to live here one day or how you met the person you’re visiting on the internet. You’ll look suspicious.
- Keep your story straight. An extension of the abovementioned, make sure you’re unwavering in what you say. The last thing you want is to be detained and worse, deported and blacklisted because your story kept changing and you came across suspicious. Likewise, if you’re traveling in a group, be sure you’re all saying the same things.
- Pay attention to import/export regulations. This is more an issue for customs, but it’s still applicable. Some countries don’t allow the importation or exportation of certain items. What’s more, if you’re bringing back a large number of items, or items valued over a certain amount, you might have to pay a fee. So just be cognizant of the law of your host country.
- Don’t try anything dumb. Don’t think you can get away with smuggling drugs or other illegal substances… sure you’ve heard stories, or saw a movie where someone was successful. But do you really want to chance it?
Before you embark on your journey, check the country’s rules and regulations. Find out if you need to apply for a visa beforehand (and what type), or if you can simply purchase one upon landing. Also check to see what items (if any) are prohibited from entering the country. Finally, be smart and only provide answers to what you’re asked. If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll more than likely be on your way to freedom and exploration! Happy Travels! —VJ