I have a love-hate relationship with custom officers or anyone at the border. You never know who you may meet and they some times ask the weirdest questions.
The more you know what to expect as an international traveler, the easier and quicker the process becomes.
Here are 10 common questions every traveler should expect to be asked when going through customs.
1. Where are you flying in from?
This may be out of curiosity or to find out whether you are flying in from a high risk country.
Possible answer: “From Accra, Ghana”
2. Are you travelling alone?
Families travelling together are usually attended to by the same officer
Possible answer: “Yes, I’m travelling alone”. “No, I travelled with a group. The others are waiting in line”
3. What is the purpose of your trip?
This is sometimes the first question travellers are asked. The customs officer wants to ascertain the reason for your visit and whether you have the corresponding visa.
Possible answer: “I came to visit my brother” , “I am here to attend a business meeting” , “I came on to explore the city”.
4. Have you ever visited [name of country]?
They can find this out by flipping through the pages of your passport but they sometimes ask you in person.
Possible answer: “No, it is my first time” , “I was here last year”.
5. Where will you be staying?
It is recommended to have detailed information about where you will stay to avoid being held up at customs. For example, the name and address of your hostel or hotel and if you are staying with family, friends or using Airbnb, you should be ready to provide the address to the customs officer.
Possible answer: “I will be staying with my sister at XYZ”.
6. What is the duration of your stay?
Be prepared to mention the duration of your visit. It should be in accordance to the country’s immigration polices. This can be tricky depending on whether or not you require a visa or you intend to apply for visa on arrival. For travellers who do not need a visa or can apply for a visa on arrival, the max stay may be 30, 90 or 120 days. Please check your visa requirements.
Possible answer: “I will be here for 3 days” , “I am staying for 4 weeks”.
7. How much cash are you carrying?
Each country has its own rules about how much cash you can have on you. You will be required to declare the amount if it exceeds the country’s rules. Please check your destination country’s rules before embarking on your trip.
Possible Answer: “I have $2000 cash on me”.
8. What do you do?
This is not a question you need to think about before answering. Be prompt and direct in your answer and be ready to show proof. This could be an ID or Business Card.
Possible Answer: “I am a student at XYZ University” , “I am a Consultant at XYZ”.
9. Do you have health insurance?
For countries that require you to have health insurance before visiting, you may be ask at the border control to show proof.
10. Do you have anything to declare?
It is important to check what you are allowed to bring with you into a country.
Possible Answer: “Yes, if you are bringing restricted items or items you may need to pay tax on.” or “No, if you have nothing to declare.
You may be asked more questions based on your reply to the customs officer. It is important to be truthful in your answers.