What to Expect During a U.S. Border Inspection

If you have made frequent border crossings into the United States you have probably noticed a consistent pattern in the line of questions and procedures used by the inspecting CBP Officer. CBP Officers are trained to follow certain guidelines for each primary inspection. These procedures ensure proper inspection of each traveler, their vehicles and belongings in an effort to protect the borders of the United States. All persons seeking entry into the United States must go through primary inspection, including U.S. citizens. If properly conducted the primary inspection by a CBP Officer will include:

  1. Declaration of citizenship from each traveler;
  2. Taking and inspecting the travel documents of each traveler;
  3. Comparing the travel documents with each traveler to verify identity;
  4. Questioning of each traveler to verify identity, purpose of the visit and obtain a declaration of all goods and currency entering the U.S.;
  5. Observation of each traveler’s body language to identify possible deception;
  6. Obtaining a clear view of all travelers, bags, and passenger compartments in vehicles; and
  7. Referring the traveler to secondary inspection if there are addition questions.

Although each CBP Officer follows the same basic inspection process, they have discretion to ask further questions and conduct in-depth searches of travelers and vehicles. It is important to carry WHTI compliant identification when seeking entry into the United States, answer the questions truthfully and to declare all goods and currency. Failure to provide proper identification, declare all goods and currency, deception, fraud, participation in criminal or illegal activity, can lead to serious immigration consequences.

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