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If you are planning on heading to the 'Land Down Under' to escape the pending grip that winter will have on much of the US, you may be able to wiggle your toes in the sand a lot quicker after your plane touches down. The speed and ease of customs and immigration will be streamlined for selected passengers thanks to some reciprocity of Australia's SmartGate technology.
SmartGate allows Australian and New Zealand passport holders to quickly pass through customs with a swipe of their chip-enabled passport, collect a paper receipt and head to the special computerized gates. After inserting a receiptsimilar to a parking garage tickettravelers get a facial recognition scan and, if all goes well, the gates open up to collect luggage. This clears up the massive winding lines we have all encountered and which we all dread after a long flight.
Travel Bans / Airport Security / Customs / US Travel / Passports / Lists / Airports / Travel Safety / Dangerous Travel / → All Tags
If you’re not happy with the souvenir options from the airport, there’s always thinking outside the box. Just be sure to watch where you shop, because some stuff that’s cool abroad isn’t as cool once you arrive at US Customs and Border Patrol. Here’s a list of some of the best stuff you just have to leave behind. Oh, and skip the bootleg purse or watch—those are banned too.
A couple from Seattle learned this the hard way recently, as they were detained at the border over their chocolate contraband. Kinder Eggs—popular pretty much everywhere but the US—aren’t allowed to be brought into the nifty fifty. Basically the issue is that the little toys inside the chocolate eggs are a choking hazard, and the FDA isn’t too cool with them because food with non-nutritive objects in it is a big fat nope. So for now keep your candy separate from your toys, and you’ll be okay.
Wander through an overseas liquor store and you might come across the green fairy, but just be sure that you consume what you need aboard—the real good stuff isn't looked kindly upon in the United States. Even though most absinthe isn’t the stuff of literary legend, anything with just the word "absinthe" on the label is questionable. According to Uncle Sam it’s also against the law to import any absinthe beverage especially if the label shows artwork or pictures hinting at hallucinogenic or mind-altering effects—bummer.
Money / Customs / UK Travel / Luxury Travel / Luggage / → All Tags
Mo money, mo problems. Sounds like a problem we all wish to have, if at least for a minute.
Even millionaires, billionaires, and trillionairs have cash problems and Christo Wiese is no exception. Back in 2009, South Africa's third wealthiest man ran into some issues with border officials in the UK when he tried to fly from the London to Luxemburg with 3 suitcases full of cash. We're talking full of cash to the tune of the equivalent to $1 million US dollars.
Travel TV Shows / Australia Travel / Customs / TV Travel / SYD / → All Tags
Watch out. On your next trip down under, you could end up on TV before even getting through to baggage claim. Just like in America, international travelers to Australia get their passports stamped, collect their baggage and then head off to quarantine to declare anything which might not be welcome on Aussie shores. And now all this is a TV show called "Border Security."
The 30-minute guilty pleasure is filmed primarily in Sydney and Melbourne, but the chance of catching a glimpse of the reality show being filmed elsewhere is pretty good. It has also stopped to film in Brisbane, Perth and some seaports across the nation.
Travel Bans / Israel Travel / iPad / Technology / Airport Security / Customs / → All Tags
So you just dropped several hundred dollars on a shiny new Apple iPad, and understandably you'd like to take it along on your long flight to pass the time. But wait! Not every country is as excited over the new gadget as the US is, and not every airport will welcome it. Take for instance Israel; Israel has banned imports of the iPad for now, and your iPad will be confiscated at the airport.
Right now, Israel isn't too sure about the device, preferring to wait to accept it until its wireless technology "is acceptable with Israeli standards." According to Haaretz, customs at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport said yesterday "they have confiscated 10 iPads, including those their owners declared and on which they offered to pay the 16% VAT required by law." Declaring or not declaring; they'll catch you either way. When it is seized, it goes to a customs warehouse and you are charged "rent" for each day it remains there until you can send it back overseas or fly out of Israel.
Apple better work this out, otherwise other countries could follow suit, seeing it as an easy way of grabbing some extra fines and perhaps a few iPads of their own.
· Beware at Customs: Government Has Banned iPad Imports [Haaretz]
· Gadgets in the Wild: Our First Hand iPad Travel Review [Jaunted]
· The TSA is Cool with iPad, But What About International Airports? [Jaunted]
· iPad Travel news [Jaunted]
Airport News / Sydney Travel / Customs / Immigration / Technology / Passports / → All Tags
Sydney Airport has just gotten smarter: passengers with modern e-Passports arriving in Sydney now have the option of going through SmartGate, which means they can go through passport control without speaking to a real person.
At the 12 SmartGate kiosks now operating at the airport, travelers can insert their e-Passport to be scanned, then answer the standard declaration questions on a touchscreen. After that they are issued with a ticket, take it to the exit, insert it there and then the camera scans them to check they are the person shown in the passport.
Just last week, she headed up to Montreal to host a gig at a nightclub. Remember Lilo, it works if you work it.
However, her trip through customs in Canada didn't go quite as planned. While we usually get admonished for having our cell phones out or for not having our passports ready quick enough, Lindsay Lohan was actually "hauled into a backroom by border staff" at the Montreal Airport.
Every savvy traveler knows the universal rule of globetrotting: If we must hold onto one single thing when traveling, we hold onto our passport. Only Official Dudes get to touch the almighty passport, and then they give it back, scanned and stamped, right?
Well, what happens when we can't tell for sure the Official Dude is an Official Dude? What happens when we hand it over and we've got to cross the border to a developing nation and collect our passport on the other side? How do we explain this act of moronic behavior later in a worst case scenario, when we were just following directions and going with the flow?
And what will our parents say after years of preaching how sacred the U.S. Passport is, and how they'd prefer not to have to take out a loan to pay off a hostage situation?
While customs agents have long had the authority to search the luggage of passengers arriving in the United States without cause, recent court decisions have asserted that border officials can also rifle through any electronics carried into an international airport. Password protected laptop? They'll make you enter your password--or crack it for you while you miss your connecting flight.
Travel writer Christopher Elliott thinks that's a breech of the Fourth Amendment, and while the courts so far don't agree, at least four Democrats do.
YYZ / Drugs / Drug Culture / Customs / → All Tags
Don't try to out-smuggle these guys...
Airport police busted two travelers in as many days when they tried to smuggle cocaine through Toronto Pearson International. The two 21-year-olds both used the same technique to conceal the drugs: Gluing baggies inside the bindings and covers of Bibles.
A border security agent had this helpful explanation:
This is not something we see on a regular basis. Bibles are what people read for spiritual support and not for smuggling drugs.
The two ran afoul of the authorities by stashing too much coke in each Bible. One book had four kilos (9 pounds) of drugs inside, tipping off customs agents who expected the book to weigh much less.
We have one more note for any potential smugglers out there: Toronto airport police are now tooling around terminals on three-wheeled motor scooters, so your quick getaway will probably be foiled promptly. When it comes to drugs, you might have better luck in Spain.
Travel Hell / Alaska Airlines / Airlines / Customs / LAX / → All Tags
Alaska Airlines is looking about as good as Britney Spears these days. Yesterday, one of the company's Boeing 737's bumped another while backing out of a gate at LAX, damaging the aircraft but causing no injuries. (This just days after a near-collision at the airport.) Passengers were rebooked, but obviously had to wait around for their new flights.
Of course, that's better than being trapped on planes like Alaska's Mexico to LA passengers. After a Customs computer meltdown, passengers weren't let off their planes for hours. We'll give Alaska credit here, though. They weren't at fault for the computer problem, and they doled out the food, drinks and even baby formula to customers.
Bad as it is, being stuck on the ground might be better than being scared in the air: In the past few weeks, multiple Alaska flights have experienced cabin pressurization problems. On at least one flight, oxygen masks deployed. We only assume that adults put their masks on before assisting children. Neglecting children? Hey, they really are channeling Britney!
If you've been accosted by Rusty the customs beagle at Newark airport because of that banana (or sausage) you didn't finish eating on your flight into the U.S. from abroad, you already know that there are certain things that are a no-go to bring into the country. What else can't you bring with you? Beyond the Cuban cigars that you've carefully hidden in your dirty socks, of course.
Well, according to AskMen.com, there's a whole host of things that you can't bring in. Most of them are unlikely to be a problem for you on the basis of cost: more than 250 grams of caviar or tusks of ivory. Also, no hookahs! Fine, U.S. Customs, make us find another centerpiece for our living room. Another thing to look out for: meds that you purchased abroad. The U.S. won't tolerate you getting accustomed to, say, Canadian pharmacies. Nope, it's Plan D for our old folks or the grave.
Now if you'll excuse us, we have to figure out how to fit a hookah into our socks.
[Image via maharon/Flickr]
· Blacklisted Souvenirs [AskMen.com]
· Pass the Hookah on the Left-Hand Side [Jaunted]