This is When you go to Passport Control, what does the agent see about you? for the United States.

Border control swipes your passport and then what do they see on their computer? Is it just time and date you entered the US? Do they have some ways to dig "deeper"? Can they see anything happened in other countries?

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    Surely they must have access to visa or ESTA applications made with that passport, at least. There are a few systems that are mentioned in connection with passport control; unfortunately, I don't remember what they are right now. Other countries, I'm not so sure.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 0:21
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    Yes they have access to some details from other countries, as some of the western countries share data. But exactly what all that encompasses is not public knowledge, since that would alert the "bad" folks what to avoid to elude detection. But if you are worried about a petty issue, like traffic violations or minor crimes (shoplifting etc) I don't think that is shared. If you are worried about an immigration problem in another country, i suppose it would depend on where and what.
    – user13044
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 1:20
  • They can only see entries to third countries if the other country tells the US (or stamps it in your passport). The chip is read only (and many people still have paper-only passports).
    – Calchas
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 9:44
  • Being narrowed down to a single country, this is not too broad. Voting to leave open.
    – JoErNanO
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 10:22
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1 Answer 1


There are multiple purposes for scanning the passport:

  1. They confirm the legitimacy of the document.
  2. It pulls up your record in their internal/system databases.
  3. It pulls up your immigration history.
  4. It pulls up your information from other related government organizations (for example, the State department - which issues the visas)

Keeping in mind that USCIS is a federal agency; it is reasonable to believe they have information on people that is available at the federal level - for example, a federal warrant.

As far as seeing things in other countries; to an extent they demand this information because all people traveling to the US are subject to delivery of their API (Advanced Passenger Information) which includes information about your itinerary, port of embark/disembark; travel documents; travel reservation information and possibly payment method(s). So already they have a large treasure of your information.

As far as sharing information - the most common source of shared information on non-citizens is Interpol (the International Police) which is what some governments (and private organizations) can use.

Interpol does issue arrest warrants which are (supposed) to be honored by all those states that are bound to the Interpol agreement. This is one source of shared information.

Of course beyond this, countries with close diplomatic relations or other intelligence agreements do share information. The US is party to such agreements such as the UKUSA Agreement (which covers the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia) and involves sharing of information and intelligence.

Such information is used (among other areas) for screening passengers to identify high-risk or otherwise flagged persons.

However, unless explicitly shared - this information is not visible beyond the normal purview of the agency that holds the information. For example, your speeding ticket in the US is not available to the border control in the UK (and vice versa).


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