Nine Tips That Will Alleviate the Stress of Clearing Customs (Part 2)

In Part 1 of our series, we noted that clearing customs can be one of the more stressful times for a flight crew and offered four tips to help reduce that stress. In Part 2 of our series, we offer five additional tips that will help you and your passengers move quickly through customs:

  1. Smaller Airport? Allow More Time—If your point of entry into a country is a smaller interior airport, allow extra time for customs. They likely don’t handle the number of entries that larger airports, or those smaller fields with geography that makes them a natural point of entry, do. The customs officials at smaller airports will not be as familiar with the procedures and are more likely to go by the book.
  2. Confirm Passenger Nationalities and Citizenships—You may be flying an executive who has lived in the United States for years, but is a Chinese citizen. That’s a significant distinction that has to be called out ahead of time. Though living in America, the executive in this example will be seen and treated like a citizen of China for customs purposes. And, if your passenger has dual citizenship, confirm the passport you cited on the customs forms is the same passport the passenger brings and uses as official documentation to clear customs.
  3. Embrace the Pets, Service Animals and Firearms Paperwork Nightmare—Whether you’re taking them out of the country, bringing them into the country or both, these all have their own unique policies, procedures and paperwork. Recent news accounts have detailed passengers and crew who were caught trying to avoid these procedures. They are facing fines and potential jail time. Whether you’re taking a hunter and his dog across international borders, have a passenger who won’t travel without a beloved pet, or transporting an animal purchased overseas, the customs requirements must be understood and followed.
  4. Transport Minors With Great Care—The rules are getting stricter about the permissions required to transport minors. Make sure you know what the specific requirements are for each country you’re stopping in with a minor. At a minimum, expect to have documented permission from both parents (even if only one is taking the trip with the minor) at every stop. The rules will vary by country from that point.
  5. Seek Out Unusual and Special Circumstances—Dig in and get the details of your trip. There may be things that passengers take for granted (transporting a small dog onboard, for example), that customs will consider unusual and require special attention from you. Look for special circumstances, such as the transport of critical medication, that you can begin to work with customs to resolve well in advance of your trip.

Assume Nothing

Have you ever driven a stretch of road, going over the speed limit, and passed a law enforcement officer who did nothing to stop you? Then, later, you got ticketed for doing the exact same speed on the same stretch of road? Customs can be a bit like that. You may land at the same airport nine times and customs works the same way every time. Then, on that tenth time, something will change that you weren’t ready for. One mantra for smooth sailing through customs might be: Expect the best, but prepare for the worst.

As noted above, clearing customs is a time of high expectation and low control for a flight crew. Rules, people and procedures change constantly. If it all seems like a bit too much to manage, or you’re looking for a trusted partner to alleviate the stress of customs, Jeppesen can help. The professionals of the International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) work with systems like APIS, as well as customs and border patrol officials around the world everyday on behalf of operators just like you. Not only can they help navigate the complexities of customs, they are just a phone call away—around the clock—to help alleviate the stress during those times when things seem out of control. Learn more about Jeppesen ITPS by clicking here or calling (800) 553-7750.

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