Me and my friend booked our flights from LAX to ICN together and have a layover in PEK Beijing. When we go to the immigration and customs counters, would we approach them individually or together? This is my first time traveling outside the US so I’m just a bit nervous and all haha.

2 Answers 2


I would stay together till the last, stepping up to the officer alone. That way you can explain you travel together but are not a (married) couple.

It is rather likely that the officer wants to see you separately as you only travel on the same booking.
Staying together helps you to keep track of each other, which is a minor advantage.

In some places you will be told to go to different officers, if so, do that. It will not be a problem.

  • (+1) IME this depends not least on the setup of the desks: if it's right in front of you it's easy and accepted to approach together if in fact travelling together. When the desk is to the side though (i.e. you walk beyond the waiting line for a few metres), one should approach individually unless with a child
    – Crazydre
    Feb 8, 2020 at 14:18
  • @Crazydre, I do not see how the actual shape of the desk makes a difference. I would say the difference is indicated by how the officer and other staff in the immigration (and waiting) area act.
    – Willeke
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:55
  • When travelling with my mum or a friend, this has invariably been my experience. For example in Sweden, at ARN, GOT, NYO and VXO, the desks are straight in front of you and people can approach together, but at MMX they're to the side and people are clearly meant to approach individually.
    – Crazydre
    Feb 8, 2020 at 17:59

There are no Customs (luggage inspection) desks in China, you pass your luggage through an x-ray machine while a few Customs officers watch the screens, and other officers watch you do it – and catch you if you try not to.

In Korea there aren't any Customs desks either, the officers just stand before the exit and take your form. They will send you to secondary if they think something's off – or you have one of those musical padlocks put on suspicious luggage: Korea Customs x-rays all luggage right off the plane, and have an AI system that flags suspicious contents, like too many bottles, etc.

As for Immigration (ie passport control), in both countries, families can go together, especially when they are with kids, or elderlies. Most of the time, when I see two adults going together, one of them more often than not gets kicked back to the yellow line... I cross the border between HK and Shenzhen 2~3 times a week, I have plenty of time to watch :-) I lived in Korea a long time, and visited a lot after I left.

Sometimes, in China, the officer asks me whether the person behind me is a travel companion – and even if I say yes, won't ask that person to the counter. I believe that it just makes inspection for the travel companion a little faster, but not necessarily. This never happened in Korea: they do not want 2 people or more at the counter: period.

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