You're approaching immigration for your first border crossing. Are you feeling just a little nervous?
If you are, you aren't alone.
Border crossings can be a bit scary, especially your first one because you don't know what to expect and you have no control over your situation.
Whether or not you enter a country is entirely up to the immigration officer who interviews you. Some are nice and conversational. While others are strict and intimidating. Both of these methods are trained tactics. The officers are trying to get you to say something that might flag you as someone entering their country for the wrong reasons. The best thing you can do in either situation is, stay calm and focus on what the immigration officers are saying and answer to the best of your ability.
While border crossings might be a little intimidating, you can do things that will help your crossing go much smoother and faster.
5 Ways You Can Make Your Immigration/Border Crossings Easier
1. Be Prepared
Have all your documents including your passport, immigration forms, visa, proof of insurance and money, fees/taxes and any other requested documents ready to go when you approach the gate. Fill out any required forms ahead of time. Being prepared is one of the fastest ways to ensure a successful interaction with immigration.
2. Be Pleasant and Respectful
Immigration officers are people just like anyone else, except for the fact they can decide if you can enter their country or not. Having a bad attitude is one of the fastest ways to ensure your border crossing will not go smoothly. So stow away the sense of self-entitlement. Don't get offended at the personal questions being asked of you. And forget all the snappy comments. Being polite, pleasant and respectful goes a long way in keeping the mood nice and everyone much less stressed.
3. Follow Instructions
Pay attention and follow any instructions whether written or verbal. If the sign says "phones not allowed" don't use your phone while waiting in line (one of the least followed instructions). If you're asked by an immigration to do something, do it. You might not like it but you're in someone else's house and their rules, not yours, apply. Following instructions helps everything about immigration go much smoother.
4. Read Lisa May's Book: Lisa's Visas: A U.S. Traveler's Guide to Border Crossings
I had the honor of editing Lisa's Visas: A U.S. Traveler's Guide to Border Crossings a book filled with loads of common sense tips, suggestions, and firsthand stories that both David and I completely agree will help make your journey through immigration much easier. We highly suggest reading this book before crossing the border.
5. Use Our Printable Immigration/Border Crossing Checklist
Our list reminds you of all the important stuff you'll need for dealing with immigration and will have you fully ready when it's your turn to cross the border. Read it or print it; just don't forget it!