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14 June 2004

U.S. Advises Travelers on Safe, Speedy Entry at Borders

Advisory comes in expectation of millions of foreign visitors

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency is advising foreign visitors to the United States on how best to facilitate their entry into the country. CBP issued the advisories June 10, just as the summer vacation season begins in the northern hemisphere.

In a June 10 press release, CBP Commissioner Robert Bonner said the agency's goal is protecting the nation from terrorists while, at the same time, assisting and supporting the movement of vacationers and trade.

Carrying proper documents and being aware of regulations concerning items prohibited for entry are among the most important traveler tips.

Following is the text of the press release from the CBP:

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Know Before You Go-Tips for Visitors to the United States


Washington, DC- U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner today launched a traveler awareness campaign to educate the millions of visitors who will travel to the United States this summer. CBP's priority mission is to keep terrorist and terrorist weapons out of the U.S. while facilitating the flow of trade and travelers. For a speedy and trouble free entry into the U.S., visitors are reminded to ensure that they have the proper documentation and are well informed on U.S. entry requirements and procedures.

"The United States always has the welcome mat out to visitors," said Commissioner Bonner. "While CBP has stepped up security at the land, sea, and air ports across our country, we are committed to treat the entry of every legitimate traveler as professionally and fast as possible. By knowing the regulations and what to expect, all international visitors can facilitate their entry and have a safe, secure, and enjoyable visit to the United States."

-- On your way to the United States you may be given a Customs and Border Protection declaration form. Fill it out entirely and sign the bottom. You may also be given a form I-94 (white) or a form I-94W (green). This will ask you for basic identification information and the full address where you will be staying in the United States.

-- When you arrive at a port of entry in the United States you will be inspected by an officer of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Be prepared to tell the officer the purpose of your trip and how long you wish to stay.

-- Most travelers will have a digital photo and two fingerprint scans taken by the officer. This will only add a few seconds to the interview. Be sure to follow the instructions of the CBP officer.

-- Make sure you have a valid nonimmigrant visa and a passport valid for six months beyond your initial stay in the United States. There are some exceptions to this requirement.

-- If you are a temporary visitor for business or pleasure, and wish to stay for up to six months, you must apply for a B1/B2 visa at the U.S. Consulate in your country, unless you are exempt the visa requirement altogether.

-- If you are planning to travel for another purpose, e.g. student, temporary worker, crewperson, journalist etc. you must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category through the Department of State at an American Embassy or Consulate abroad.

-- If you are a citizen of a visa waiver country, you may apply for entry without a visa if you are seeking entry for 90 days or less for business or pleasure. Check to make sure your intended purpose of travel falls within the guidelines.

-- If you stayed beyond the 90 days allowed under the Visa Waiver Program on your last visit to the U.S.-you are required to get a visa (at a U.S. Consulate in your country) for your next visit to the United States.

-- Remember, even though certain individuals may be exempt from visa and/or passport requirements, the burden of poof is on the applicant to establish eligibility to enter the United States. Carrying proof of citizenship will help determine this.

-- Some items may be prohibited from entry, have to meet certain requirements, or require a license or permit. If you would like to bring in any of the following, make sure you find out the rules and regulations concerning them:

- Absinthe
- Biological materials
- Endangered species and their products
- Wildlife
- Meat, poultry, eggs and their products
- Fruits, vegetables and plants
- Hazardous materials
- Weapons

-- There is no limit on the amount of money (U.S. or foreign) you may bring into or take out of the United States. If you have more than 10,000 dollars or foreign equivalent, however, you must report this to the Customs and Border Protection officer upon entry and/or departure.

-- Medicine containing habit-forming drugs must be clearly identified. Carry only the amount you normally need. Also bring a prescription or statement from your physician explaining that the medicine is necessary for your well being.

This is a brief overview of U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements. Tips for Visitors describe the rules in detail. A copy of this brochure can be ordered at CBP's web site at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/toolbox/publications/order/. You may also call and request a copy from U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Washington, D.C., at 1.877.CUSTOMS or 202.354.1000.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the protection of our nation's borders. CBP unified Customs, Immigration, and Agriculture Inspectors and the Border Patrol into one border agency for the United States.

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