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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

US Customs & Border Protection offers tips for international holiday travel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection “strongly encourages travelers to be ‘ready to travel’ and use CBP’s various mobile apps to enhance their safe travel experience.”

By The Star Staff

With the holiday travel season underway, U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Thursday offered tips to help make international travel safer and easier.

“Holiday travel is already reaching record levels this season, so (CBP) we strongly encourage travelers to be ‘ready to travel’ and use CBP’s various mobile apps to enhance their safe travel experience,” said Roberto Vaquero, San Juan’s director of field operations, in a written statement.

“These technological enhancements are integral to CBP’s efforts to enhance the travel experience while maintaining safety for all travelers,” he added.

The CBP’s Trusted Traveler program Global Entry allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members of the program can also use Global Entry’s new contactless portals, now available at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport. Portals reduce physical touchpoints and speed up arrival processing by eliminating paper receipts and protecting passenger privacy, Vaquero noted.

As of June of this year, non-U.S. citizens from 41 Visa Waiver Program countries can use the new ESTA mobile app, available in 25 languages, to apply for an ESTA authorization from their mobile devices.

For additional ways to “travel smart” upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry, the CBP offered the following tips:

* Registration on Arrival. Global Entry applicants who have not yet received an interview prior to their international travel can still opt for faster processing at select airports with Registration on Arrival. This initiative allows conditionally approved applicants to complete their interview upon returning to the U.S. on a walk-in basis, using the documents they would normally carry when traveling internationally.

* Prepare your documents. Before embarking on a trip to the United States or returning from international travel, make sure you have a valid U.S. passport and ID card. Be prepared to present them and other travel documents that may be requested by the CBP officer. While a Global Entry card is not always required, Trusted Travelers are advised to carry their cards with them in case they are asked for one.

* Avoid counterfeits when traveling. Be careful when buying from street vendors or questionable shops during the holidays. These items could support criminal activity, violate intellectual property rights, and may prove dangerous to consumers.

* Consider duty waivers. Items bought abroad for personal use or as a gift are entitled to duty waivers. If you bring them back for resale, they are not eligible for tax exemption.

* Consider your medications. Be careful when traveling with medications. Many foreign-made drugs are not approved for use in the United States and are not allowed in the country.

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