When I arrived in Mumbai, my bag was marked with an 'X'. A few other people's bags were also marked with an 'X'. What does this mean? I had to explain what was in my bag and show them the contents, but the other people were not searched as thoroughly.

Do you have any idea what the 'X' signified?

3 Answers 3


Customs officers everywhere cannot practically check everybody who passes through; they choose who to search on a mixture of 'information received' and 'random searches'. What the mixture is, and exactly how random the latter are, are closely-guarded secrets (as you'd expect); but I would guess the chalk was simply marking which passengers had been randomly chosen for a full inspection.


In some countries/airports, some or all of the bags may go through scanners before being delivered on the belts.

If the scan reveals anything suspicious they may mark the bag for customs officers to verify the contents in your presence (scanners are not foolproof, so there may be false positives where they flag your bag for inspection even if there is nothing problematic).

Depending on the procedures (and what has been detected), this may involve marking the bag, or just advising customs officers if they want to be able to monitor you without raising your suspicion.


There are 3 kind of cross signs they put

  • White - Some metal may be inside your bag
  • Yellow - Some gold may be inside your bag
  • Red - Some drug may be inside your bag

With that Cross signs on your bag, custom officer can check.

  • 2
    Can you edit to provide an official source which confirms this as otherwise it looks like a matter of opinion.
    – mdewey
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 13:58
  • 2
    Or provide a good reason why you know and we can trust you.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 19, 2023 at 14:21
  • Will find the relevant sources & update it. Thanks Commented Jan 23, 2023 at 7:22

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