Passing through customs can be one of the most stress-ridden experiences tied to traveling. Each country holds its own standards of entry and oftentimes, the wrong words or actions--albeit inner motives--can get us in a lot of trouble. In America especially, since the tragic event of 9/11, border control and custom agents have taken pride in being the most thorough, diligent and slightly scary. It is thus important to remain informed on the types of questions that may pop up during your security screening.
After all, doing so could help reduce our overall anxiety surrounding this process and even more so if one informs themselves on the strange line of questioning which may pop up. In order to help you decrease your stress levels and keep you prepared for your experience at customs, we offer you an overview of the 10 most bizarre questions you could be asked at customs and why.
10 Do you have anything to declare?
This is a basic question often asked more regularly than the other features on this list. Specific laws, rules and regulations surround the transportation of goods. It is why one must ensure to adhere to the laws herein to avoid getting in any trouble.
Interestingly, this kind of questioning is not unwarranted as many individuals are caught with illegal items and then fined exuberant amounts. Thus, proceed with caution.
9 Where are you flying from?
This question fulfills the customs agent's regular security questioning and remains one of the most crucial. In order to further legitimize the purposes of your travel, airport control is expected to ask about your departure destination. Traveling from at-risk countries may arise further suspicion. The latter can also be a public health concern if you stem from a country with higher incidences of an illness or disease.
Vaccination is often required prior to entering or leaving certain countries. You must further inform yourself about this before traveling to avoid being denied entry.
8 What do you do for work?
If custom agents ask you about your work, it is not because they are curious, but because they are being safe. These kinds of probing questions add onto to the deeper inquiry of your travel and may be of extreme relevance if you are traveling to a country for business purposes.
Hence, you must expect to be asked about your day job or business as well as elaborate on specific tasks comprising said job -- especially if they relate to the purpose of your travel.
7 What is the purpose of your trip?
This is for safety measures and to ensure that you are here for both clear and legal purposes. A lot of times security agents nab individuals traveling with for shady motives or intentions.
Usually, border control will ask you to clearly state whether you are here for business or pleasure. Should you choose any of the stated choices, you must ensure to have the appropriate answer in order to move forward.
6 Are you insured?
This question pops up a little bit less often than the other features on this list, but it remains relevant.
Custom agents may probe you on matters of personal health insurance depending on the country you are visiting. This is to ensure that in any event, you are covered by an external party who may recuperate any financial losses tied to a medical emergency while visiting the country at hand.
5 Have you ever visited this country before?
This is an essential question to get to the core of your travel purposes. Whether you happen to be a wandering soul discovering a new country out of sheer curiosity or a business person simply visiting to lock down a deal with a foreign partner, it remains extremely important to airport security.
Custom agents need to know if you have visited this country before because familiarity with the environment will most likely make your visit more legitimate. Whereas, if it is your first time and you do not seem to have any valid reason to be here, you might arouse suspicion. After all, shady deals often happen in foreign land hence if your traveling record does not justify current movements, expect to be probed further.
4 Where will you be staying?
Looking to travel on a hunch with no concrete plans as to where you will be staying? Indeed, this might be the root of a serious issue capable of impeding your travel plans.
Custom agents often probe travelers on all aspects of their travel journey including their accommodation. Often times, this line of questioning can go as far as revealing address details and postal codes. Hence, it is best to come prepared.
3 How long will you be staying?
Along with knowing where you will be staying, custom agents may also question you about the duration of your stay. This is to ensure you do plan to return home and respect the country's immigration laws.
Bypassing the latter could result in legal issues and thus security control remain very cautious about this. The length of your stay can hint at funny business depending on other variables of your travel plans. Hence, ensure your stay respects the country's rules surrounding foreigner's length of stay, required visas and more.
2 How much money do you have with you?
This question is closely tied to the stringent regulations applied to the transportation of goods and declaring. Each country differs in the amount of money a traveler is allowed to bring in to their land. For this reason, you must inform yourself of the latter to avoid further questioning. Showing up to a foreign place with a suspicious sum of money can get in you in trouble.
For security purposes, you will most likely be asked this question along with what intentions you have with regards to the given amount (i.e. purchasing souvenirs, food, accommodation and etc.)
1 Are you traveling alone?
It is not uncommon to travel alone. In fact, certain countries are even cited as being best suited for solo travelers. And as fun as this may sound, you should still be aware that you may be questioned on the reasons behind your solo travel plans. To be fair, traveling alone to certain countries may raise more suspicion than others.
Precisely, showing up by yourself could relate to shadier business which will then encourage further questioning. Hence, make sure your travel plans are clear in and out prior to stepping into customs to avoid any complications.