I'm traveling to Tirana, Albania (arriving in late-March) on my 18th birthday alone to visit my friends. I am an American. I've never traveled internationally before, I'm just curious what happens at Immigration and what will I be asked so I'm prepared? So far I only have the documents I know for sure I'll need (onward ticket and my passport). Thanks..


Some of the things you may be asked are:

  • Why are you traveling to Albania today?

  • Where are you staying?

  • How much money do you have available to you?

  • How long are you staying?

You may also be asked other questions, based on your responses. When you say that you are visiting friends, for instance, you might be asked:

  • Are they meeting you in the airport arrivals hall today?

  • Are you staying with them?

As a general rule, at the passport control point you should keep your answers short and simple. Just a few words. If all is in order you will sail right through.

After passport control you will go to baggage claim, pick up your baggage, and then go to customs. You will be asked if you have anything to declare.

To avoid problems with customs, declare any food items or valuable items you intend to import to Albania and and not take back out of the country (e.g. expensive gifts for your friends). You need to declare cash you are carrying over 1,000,000 ALL (about $9000 USD today). You don't need to declare valuable items which you also plan to leave the country with, such as your phone/laptop.

Whether you made a declaration or not, you might be subject to a customs inspection, where your baggage is searched in front of you, X-rayed to detect drugs, etc. If you made a declaration, the items you declared will be examined. In the case of valuables, it will be decided whether a customs duty applies and how much it is. In the case of food or other organic matter, it will be decided whether those items are allowed into the country.

In very rare cases you might be selected for a secondary immigration inspection, where they will go into more depth about your reasons for coming to the country. If you ever experience this, you should switch to longer, more explanatory answers to the questions you are asked. At this stage they are looking for detail, so give them all the details you can.

(Immigration and customs are two separate functions; one is concerned with people, and the other is concerned with physical items entering or exiting a country.)

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