On a recent trip, my family and I were chosen for a “random” customs inspection.  I had never been flagged for one before. Since I have Global Entry, coming back home had always been a smooth process.

I suspect we were selected because we had a cart full of luggage to inspect.  We weren’t worried about it. In fact, I had already consumed and given away the packaged roasted pork jerky that I purchased at another airport.

What to Expect:

  • Expect to open up all your luggage for inspection.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about what’s in your luggage.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about where you just traveled to/from.

Interestingly, the couple next to us was given a stern talking-to by a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.  Fortunately, our CBP officer was slightly friendlier.  When the CBP officer inquired about what’s in some of the bags, I’d answered frankly:  “I don’t quite remember. You can open it.”  And she would.  And then we’d move on.

There was one exception. We threw in all dirty laundry into a duffel bag. She asked what’s in the bag.  I quipped, “Dirty laundry.”  Continuing with my mantra, I added, “You can open it if you like.”

I nearly laughed out loud when she said she’s all set with that one.

In Summary

If you do get selected for a customs inspection, there’s really nothing to worry about.  Don’t bring in any of the prohibited or restricted items and you should clear a customs inspections easily.  If you have items, declare them.

It seems that the couple next to us had their item (whatever it was) confiscated and given a warning.  They were still there when we left. In that case, they had it easy.  A woman was actually fined $500 after taking an apple given to her as a snack on a Delta flight.  That is one expensive apple, right there.