How To Smoothly Pass Through Customs When Entering the US


Minho Lee | Dec 14, 2023 Student Life

As an international student arriving in the US, navigating customs can be a nerve-wracking experience. Unfamiliar procedures, potential language barriers, and the pressure to make a good first impression can create anxiety for even the most seasoned traveler. But fear not! With the right preparation and knowledge, you can breeze through customs with confidence and begin your exciting journey in the US.

Before You Land

  • Gather your documents: Prepare your passport, visa (if applicable), I-94 form, customs declaration form, and proof of health insurance. Ensure all documents are valid and have the necessary information.
  • Declare all items:This includes anything you purchased abroad, gifts, food items, and even medication. Declare everything accurately to avoid delays or fines.
  • Familiarize yourself with US customs regulations:Visit the US Customs and Border Protection website for detailed information on prohibited and restricted items.

At the Airport

  • Follow the signs:Airports typically have clear signage directing passengers to customs. If you're unsure, ask airport personnel for assistance.
  • Choose the right line:Look for the line designated for "Non-US Citizens" or "International Arrivals."
  • Be prepared for questioning:Customs officers may ask you questions about your travel purpose, intended stay, and the items you're bringing in. Answer honestly and confidently.
  • Present your documents:Have your passport, visa, and other required documents readily available for inspection.
  • Declare your items:When prompted, verbally declare all items you're bringing in. Be specific and accurate.
  • Stay calm and respectful:Be polite and cooperative with the customs officers. Even if you encounter a language barrier, try your best to communicate clearly.

Tips for a Smooth Experience

  • Dress appropriately:Avoid wearing overly casual clothing or anything that might attract unnecessary attention.
  • Pack efficiently:Avoid bringing excessive luggage or bulky items that might slow you down.
  • Stay organized:Keep all your travel documents and identification easily accessible in a designated folder or travel pouch.
  • Plan ahead:Allow sufficient time for customs processing, especially during peak hours.
  • Declare your items:When prompted, verbally declare all items you're bringing in. Be specific and accurate.
  • Be mindful of your body language:Avoid fidgeting or appearing nervous. Maintain eye contact and speak clearly when questioned.
  • Have your health insurance information readily available:Customs officers may ask for proof of health insurance. Show your ISO Student Health Insurance card or plan documents.

Traveling with ISO Student Health Insurance

As an ISO student, you have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage while studying in the US. Having proof of your ISO insurance plan readily available demonstrates financial responsibility and compliance with travel regulations. This can help smooth your entry and reassure customs officials.

By following these tips and staying prepared, you can navigate customs with confidence and experience a smooth entry into the US. Remember, customs officers are there to ensure the safety and security of the country. By being honest, cooperative, and well-informed, you can make the process efficient and start your US journey on a positive note.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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