Niagara Gazette

February 14, 2013

Customs offer tips for avoiding travel hassles this weekend

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Busy cross border travel is expected due to the upcoming holiday weekend and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are reminding the travelers that there are a number of steps that can be taken to facilitate their entry into the U.S.

• Travelers should check traffic conditions at the four border crossings within the Buffalo/Niagara region and select the crossing that is least congested. Travelers can easily obtain current border traffic conditions at www.cbp.gov.

• Travelers should familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP website and consult the border wait times page (Know Before You Go) (Wait Times - Airport and Border). Wait time information is updated hourly and is useful in identifying periods of light traffic/short waits. Travelers should have their approved travel documents available for inspection and be prepared to declare all items acquired outside, or being imported into, the U.S.

• In compliance with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative implemented June 1, 2009, all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, need to present an approved travel document to enter the U.S. by land and sea. These documents include a valid passport, U.S. passport card, trusted traveler card (NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST) or an enhanced driver’s license. Children under the age of 16 can present an original or copy of their birth certificate. Please visit the WHTI website for additional information (getyouhome.gov).

• Customs officials also strongly encourages travelers to obtain a radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled travel document such as a U.S. Passport Card, Enhanced Driver’s License/Enhanced Identification Card or Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI, Global Entry, or FAST) to expedite their entry and make crossing the border more efficient.

WHTI-compliant, RFID-enabled documents help reduce the time it takes to process travelers at the border. No personal identification information is stored on the RFID chip embedded in the cards — only a series of ones and zeros that points to information in a secure CBP database.

Cross-border travelers are encouraged to participate in the NEXUS program, which allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay into the United States and Canada. Application forms are available and travelers can apply online at www.cbp.gov. Additionally, NEXUS information is available toll-free at 1-866-NEXUS 26 (1-866-639-8726).