I was a first time traveler and didn't know what to do. I got my luggage and exited the airport without going through the customs. I didn't pass when I arrived in the country that I travelled to and didn't pass again when I arrived at the country I travelled from. It's an honest mistake, I just didn't know what to do then until my friend told me.

I am planning to travel again but I am afraid that I may have violated something and they will not allow me to leave. Can I get penalized?

  • 8
    What country/airport was this?
    – Newton
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 12:16
  • 9
    Are you absolutely sure you did not walk through a passageway which was the customs area? There may not have been anyone on duty there for you to see.
    – mdewey
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 12:23
  • 10
    Are.you sure you didn't pass through the green 'Nothing to declare' channel? I've travelled through many airports around the world and without exception, when I've had to pass through customs there was no other route available.
    – user79658
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 12:26
  • 13
    I doubt there's a single airport in the world that's set up to allow international visitors to just wander out without passing customs when necessary. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 16:16
  • 7
    Unless the original asker updates the question with the specific airport and flight in question, I think it's impossible to answer this question. In general the answer is "No, when you depart an international airport you always go through customs", but without the details, it's hard to state there is no way it could happen. I imagine that if the details are provided, someone will provide a photo of exactly what the customs line looks like and show how it's possible to exit through customs without realizing it.
    – Johnny
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


If you arrived on an international flight, then it's very unlikely that you exited the airport without passing through customs.
It's most likely that you just didn't recognize that you were were passing through customs, because I'm guessing you were expecting some sort of search of your goods or at least a desk where you'd have to explain what you were carrying, etc.
However in many airports you have the option of walking out through a "green" nothing-to-declare zone/passageway which is more-or-less the equivalent of you saying that you don't believe that you're carrying anything of interest to customs.
Often in my experience these green zones don't even have anyone on duty in them, but sometimes they do, and sometimes a passenger passing through the green zone will be stopped and have their belongings checked to make sure they're not trying to import anything they shouldn't be.

So as long as you left the airport the same way all the other passengers did, and didn't sneak out through a side door or something like that, you're fine.

  • 9
    @user85638: How are you so sure of that? It seems much more likely that you did in fact pass through customs (there's usually no other way out from the baggage hall) but you were just not aware that the corridor you walked through was actually customs. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 13:39
  • 23
    @user85638: Since you seem to be refusing to say which location this happened in, we can't say anything definite. But in the vast majority of airports I know of, "went right out through the exit" means passing customs. That exit IS CUSTOMS. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 14:04
  • 4
    @user85638 Also, it may appear that there’s no-one on duty but I’m pretty sure there’ll always be CCTV coverage and someone monitoring that out of sight
    – Traveller
    Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 14:30
  • 7
    Even the red zones don't always have anyone in them. I once hung around one for a few minutes because I wanted to declare something, and gave up waiting. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 15:25
  • 7
    I'm not aware of any airport that's so poorly designed that it is possible to accidentally leave the airport without going through customs/immigration. That would rather defeat the purpose of the checkpoints. Commented Oct 18, 2018 at 18:13

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