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Getting into America from UK

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Every year we start our ski season coming over to the USA from England for Thanksgiving .
The problem we are hearing is the average time to get through customs is 4 hours: . If thats the case then I think we will have to go someplace like Canada.
The last thing you want after a 10 hour flight is a 4 hour stand in a Customs queue.
Can anyone advise me if this is the norm - or are some airports having less waing time????
post #2 of 13
I think 4 hours wait is a little steep... I don't believe it! My mom returned from Europe 3 weeks ago and she zoomed right through in about 30 minutes. BTW, that's JFK, NY. I don't know how's in the rest of the country but I doubt it's 4 hours.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Yes but your mother would come through the resident channel.

We will be in the visitors line & thats where the time difference will be.
post #4 of 13
Unless your name is Cat Stevens I don't think there will be any problems
post #5 of 13
I don't get it? What's a "resident channel"? The last time I traveled outside US was in the Spring of 2003; I went to Italy. I don't remember going through any particular channel other than making any customs' line. As I recall, every line around me was moving at the same pace.

Regardless, the 4 hour wait is way too steep if you ask me.
post #6 of 13
Last year when we returned from Europe there were separate lines. As residents, we pretty much breezed right back in. Looked like a long wait for the non-residents. Don't know if things have changed in the past year but I think it's a rather arduous process. On the flip side, seemed like it took us about 30 seconds to go through customs entering Europe.
post #7 of 13
I travel between the UK/US on a pretty regular basis, 10+ times/year normally. The wait time is a bit of a crap-shoot. It depends on what airport, how many planes landing at the same time etc. and also what mood the immigration guy is in. For quite a while it took a lot longer as the rules were somewhat prone to interpretation by the individual. However some recent clarifications by the INS/Department of Homeland Security, particularly with regard to business travel, appear to have eased the situation a bit. I can say though that I have never seen it take 4 hours. 1.5-2 is probably the longest I have experienced and that is relatively rare. On the other hand I came in through Philadelphia a few days ago and it took all of 3 minutes. I have also found that JFK, Chicago and Boston are straight forward but New York Newark tends to have much longer lines . Having a visa does help but if you are just on holiday there should be no problems. Incidentally do not assume Canada is always easier. I have found Vancouver can be a real pain at times. It is the only place where I have missed a connecting flight because of immigration hassles.

There a few simple rules though
1 Fill out all the forms properly and completely (or you might be sent to the back of the line!)
2 Keep calm and pleasant no matter how inane some of the questions or processes appear and ignore any apparent hostility that you might perceive.

With regard to channels, there are different channels for US citizens and for visitors. This is no different from Europe where there are separate channels for EU residents and other nationalities. And yes in both the US and Europe, nationalds get through more quickly.

Hope this helps
post #8 of 13
Who cares how long the wait is. Why not just just come to Canada anyways. I guarantee you won't have to wait very long and your money will go alot further. Best of all we understand your accent! If you want more info on Banff/eastern B.C you can pm me.
post #9 of 13
I went to Aspen (via Minneapolis) back in February, on a EU passport, and it took me less than 15min from leaving the plane to clearing customs. Having heard all these horror stories about Customs I was pleasantly surprised, only problem was my conecting flight was 6 hours later, so I went to the Mall of America (largest in the world) for some serious shopping. I suspect Customs and the Mall have some sort of profit sharing deal ;-)
post #10 of 13
I can vouch for that nightmare they call Customs at Vancouver....we waited about 3 hours 2 years ago....and how about having to pay a $7 "exit fee" when you fly home?
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Just thought Id let you all know - we opted for Canada instead of USA - just in case.
post #12 of 13
... and all this hoo-ha for nothing... Have fun in... Canada!
post #13 of 13
OK so which resort is best in Canada for a family with kids 7 - 14. Beginners to intermediate. Again I'm coming from UK.
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