This blog post was updated on July 16, 2019.

When trying to make your last minute flights, have you ever been stuck waiting on a security line at the airport because a traveler decided to wear their entire jewelry wardrobe through the metal detector or someone attempted to get through customs with restricted items? Any traveler that has flown internationally (especially during busy travel periods) can probably relate to the long lines and aggravation that may arise when going through airport security and customs. We’ve all been there, and thankfully, there’s a way to avoid the mayhem!

Apply for Global Entry

Put the hassle of waiting in long lines aside by becoming a member of Global Entry. Benefits of being a pre-screened Global Entry member when entering the U.S. include no processing lines, no paperwork, access to expedited entry benefits in other countries, availability at major US airports, reduced wait times, and TSA PreCheck eligibility.

Of course, not everyone is approved to be a member of Global Entry. And, if you happen to get denied or would like to skip the registration process, then keep reading because we’ve got some travel tips for you when flying internationally!

airport security line

Note: If you’re a frequent flyer traveling between the US and a specific country, check out the different programs offered. US citizens are welcomed to join specific countries’ expedited customs and security programs (if accepted), some of which are affiliated with Global Entry membership. So, if you’re a frequent flyer traveling from the United States to one specific country, you may want to learn more on how to get through international customs before boarding your next flight out of the U.S!

Get the Mobile Passport App

If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you’ll be glad you chose to use this app once you arrive at U.S. Customs and Border Protection. To get started, download the free Mobile Passport app on to your IOS or Android mobile device, enter your personal passport information, complete the form, and submit to Customs Border Protection to then receive your barcode receipt. Once your mobile passport is set up, all that’s left to do is proceed to the Mobile Passport Control line. Although this app is a great way to speed through customs, you should know that this technology is only used in 26 U.S. airports. And if you’re taking a cruise ship, there are 3 cruise ports (Miami, Port Everglades, and Palm Beach Seaport) where you can use your mobile passport as well.

Need to book last minute flights? Find your tickets here! 

While both Global Entry and the Mobile Passport app will get you through customs and security fast, there are more helpful tips and tricks to know:

Sit Toward the Front of the Aircraft

You may not think of this when choosing your seat, but sitting in the first section of the aircraft will get you off the plane and into the customs line quickly, before the rest of the passengers. And before your flight lands, be sure to use the facilities on the aircraft; stopping for the restroom in the airport will put you behind your fellow passengers on the customs line.

woman sitting on airplane

Know What You Can and Cannot Bring Back

We know, it may be hard to part with that fresh exotic fruit you purchased at a foreign airport, but odds are it’s probably prohibited (illegal) to bring into the U.S. If you are unsure of what you can and cannot take back home to America, you can find a list of items on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Before you land, a flight attendant will hand you a CBP Declaration form to mark off all purchased merchandise and agricultural products you are bringing into the U.S. It is recommended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to declare rather than not. Be prepared and knowledgeable about what exactly is in your bags and what is not allowed to be in your bags.

RELATED: Do You Know All the Ways to Get Through TSA Quickly? Test Your Airport Security Speediness!

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

Don’t get frazzled! If you booked last minute flights for your first trip out of the country and an officer asks you questions when entering the U.S, know that it’s normal. Every traveler is observed and questioned for security. Being that you’re an American passport holder, you won’t be quizzed too much about your citizenship. However, questions about where you traveled, the nature of your trip, and the items you brought back (that you did not leave the U.S with) will be asked. Be prepared to respond to the questions by knowing where you were staying, who you’re traveling with, and why you were traveling there. The more you know the easier it is to get through customs fast.


Whether you’re a member of Global Entry, you have the Mobile Passport App, or you use the tips and tricks listed above, you’ll certainly get through customs and security in a flash!

Have any other tips on how to get through customs fast? Tell us in the comments section below! 

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About The Author

If she’s not searching for the world's coolest destinations she has yet to explore, you can find her writing content at Fareportal or maybe even drooling over a foodies latest post. Shannon’s a Brooklyn native who enjoys good company, new adventures, and a great laugh!