SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency’s Caribbean operation has issued travel recommendations ahead of expected increases in the number of international arrivals, as this weekend is seen as the start of the summer travel season.
CBP said the Memorial Day weekend could see an increase in the number of international arrivals to airports in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands and encourages travellers to plan properly to avoid unnecessary delays at border control points.
“We ask travellers to be aware and ready in order to avoid long lines and inconveniences at the airports,” said Roberto Vaquero, director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, adding that “CBP officers can inspect you and your personal belongings to enforce our laws, as well as protect legitimate travellers,” he added.
“Have all the required travel documents for the country you are visiting, as well as identification for re-entry to the United States,” CBP urged. “Passport books are required for all international travel by air.
“Other options such as the US passport card, trusted traveller cards, border crossing card and permanent resident card can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land or seaports,” it added.
Citizens of countries under the US Visa Waiver Program were also reminded to travel with their approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) which they would be required to present to CBP officials before boarding.
“Upon reaching CBP processing, declare everything you are bringing from abroad, even if you bought it in a duty-free shop,” CBP said. “Know that things bought abroad for personal use or as gifts may be eligible for duty exemptions. If you are bringing them back for resale, they are not.
CBP warned travellers that they must not attempt to bring pork products from the Dominican Republic into the US as they are prohibited from entry due to the African Swine Fever (ASF).
“Know the difference between prohibited merchandise, which is forbidden by law to enter the US, and restricted merchandise, items needing special permit to be allowed into the US,” it added. “Monitor border wait times for various ports of entry.
Travellers are encouraged to plan their trips during periods of lighter traffic or to use an alternate, less heavily travelled port of entry.”
CBP said Global Entry members can expedite their entry by proceeding to the kiosks which now use facial biometric technology to confirm the identity of travellers and makes admissibility decisions without producing a receipt.
“This provides a faster, secure, streamlined and touchless experience for Global Entry members travelling internationally while protecting the privacy of all travellers,” CBP said.
It said travellers, who do not have Global Entry, may use the free Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app, which allows eligible travellers to submit their passport and customs declaration information through a “free, secure app on their smartphone or another mobile device.
CBP said the use of MPC streamlines the traveller’s entry process into the United States by reducing passport control inspection time and overall wait time.
It said the use of MPC is free and does not require pre-approval.
CBP said travellers, who wish to opt out of the new biometric process, may notify an airline official or a CBP officer as they approach the departure gate.
“These travellers will be required to present a valid travel document for inspection by the gate agent, and they will be processed consistent with existing requirements for departure from the United States,” it said.