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Even in the midst of the recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and ongoing preparations for the hurricane season starting today, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are ready to secure and facilitate travel for thousands of passengers departing to and arriving from international destinations, CBP has announced.
“As international travel to the United States via Puerto Rico and the USVI continues to grow, CBP San Juan has made its goal to transform the entry process—adding innovative programs and technology—so travelers are waiting less, handling less paper, and getting to their destinations faster; all while keeping our primary mission of border security,” said Noel De Jesus, acting assistant director border security for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We invite visitors to enjoy all the wonders Puerto Rico and the USVI Caribbean islands offer, and also encourage everyone to learn about the CBP process to make their traveling quick and smooth.”
In preparation for the summer season, CBP’s San Juan Field Office issued an advisory to improve travelers’ experience when entering the United States via Puerto Rico and the USVI.
Visitors and returning residents can take steps to prevent unnecessary delays and to ensure a smooth CBP processing.
Travel Documents: Travelers should have appropriate passports and any other associated travel documents ready when approaching a CBP officer for processing or visiting a foreign country. Find out more information about approved travel documents for entry into the U.S. as well as country specific information at getyouhome.gov and travel.state.gov. Remember to carry these documents with you, do not pack them.
Consider applying for a Trusted Traveler Program: Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler program available at select airportsincluding SJU. It allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States by using automatic kiosks and therefore avoid long lines at busy airports. Members of GE also enjoy the benefits of TSA PreCheck. Once approved, GE members retain their membership for five years.
Declare goods: Truthfully declare everything you are bringing from abroad including duty-free items. If duty is applicable, credit cards or cash payment in U.S. currency is acceptable.
Declare foods: Many agriculture products can bring damaging pests and diseases into the country. If you have questions about what food is allowed or not allowed in to the U.S. visit https://help.cbp.gov/ and remember don’t pack a pest!
Apply and pay for an I-94 online: Speed up your entry into the U.S. by providing your biographic and travel information and paying the $6 fee for the I-94 application online at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ up to seven days prior to entry.
Declare gifts: Gift you bring back for your personal use must be declared, but you may include them in your personal exemption. This includes gifts people gave you while you were out of the country and gifts you have brought back for others.
Prohibited vs. Restricted: Know the difference between prohibited merchandise (which is forbidden by law to enter the United States) and restricted merchandise (items needing special permit to be allowed into the United States). For more information, visit the Restricted/Prohibited section of the CBP website.
Traveling with medication: Travelers must declare all medicine and similar products when entering the United States.Prescription medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container. It is advised that you travel with no more than personal use quantities, a rule of thumb is no more than a 90 day supply. If your medications or devices are not in their original containers, you must have a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. A valid prescription or doctor’s note is required on all medication entering the U.S.
Traveling with pets: Cats and dogs must be free of disease and illness when entering the United States. In addition, dog owners must be able to show proof of rabies vaccination. If crossing with a puppy, certain paperwork will need to be completed at the border for the “new addition to the family.” All pets are subject to health, quarantine, agriculture, or wildlife requirements and prohibitions. The regulations about bringing a pet into the United States are the same whether you drive over the U.S. border with your pet in your car, fly, or travel by other means. Pets taken out of the United States and returned are subject to the same requirements as those entering for the first time. For more information about traveling with your pet to a foreign country or bringing your pet into the U.S., visit APHIS’s pet travel website.
Report Traveling with $10,000 or more: There is no limit to how much currency you may take in or out of the United States; however, U.S. federal law requires you to report your total currency of $10,000 or more. Currency includes all forms of monetary instruments. Travelers who fail to truthfully report all of their currency risk their currency being seized, and may face criminal charges.
For citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries, an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is required before boarding an aircraft. For those traveling by air or sea on a visa, CBP has automated the Form I-94 removing the need for travelers to fill out a paper copy. Travelers will still be able to obtain their I-94 number and/or a copy of their I-94 online.
CBP’s mission is to facilitate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security for those who live here and for those who come to visit. On a typical day last year, CBP officers processed more than 1 million travelers arriving airports, seaports or border crossings. During the summer months, travelers should expect heavy traffic. Planning ahead and adopting these travel tips can save time and lead to a less stressful trip.
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