For example, I want to go to the U.S. by airplane. I had the non immigrant visa (N.I.V.) from the American embassy in Turkey, issued to my Turkish passport.

I exited from Turkey by using the Istanbul Ataturk international airport, showed my passport at the exit control, and boarded my airplane. 12 hours later, I landed into the JFK international airport. I also have a 37-centimeter screen television and a computer with full battery, in the luggage. Should I declare the television and computer at the airport?

Also, what is the procedure at the customs/passport control? Can the customs officer check my luggage?

Note that when leaving from some airports for the U.S., you might pass through something called "preclearance". This is for most flights, i.e. non-preclearance flights.

  • 2
    What's the purpose of the computer and television (a television is a somewhat unusual item for a visitor to carry)? Are they for your personal use during your trip and you will take them back home to Turkey when you leave? Or do you plan to leave them in the US? Sep 22, 2016 at 18:59
  • in short, yes you ABSOLUTELY have to tell customs about the TV and PC. they will probably charge you a small fee to bring the stuff to the USA. (If you don't like this idea - don't go.) "only" customs bothers with the TV/PC, the immigration officer only bothers with "you" (although: immigration does indeed check your customs form also).
    – Fattie
    Sep 22, 2016 at 22:22
  • i would point out to you that TVs are incredibly cheap presently in the USA. go to say walmart.com for an idea. if your idea is to save and/or make money or something, totally forget it.
    – Fattie
    Sep 22, 2016 at 22:23
  • 2
    @Fattie In the US, the immigration officer and the customs officer are the same person. The US no longer splits border control based on immigration vs. customs, it splits based on border (which includes airports) vs. inland.
    – cpast
    Jul 26, 2018 at 1:37
  • 2
    @cpast, my wife and I have flown into the US three times in the last year, and while immigration and customs officers are both from CBT, they are most definitely different individuals, set up in different rooms and doing different jobs. Jul 26, 2018 at 2:48

1 Answer 1


First, during your flight, you'll be given a US Customs declaration form. You can see a copy of the form online, along with instructions, so you know what to expect. If you have a specific question about the form, you can ask that here as a new question or ask one of the officers when you arrive in the US.

When you arrive at your first U.S. airport, you'll walk off the plane and be directed into a secure hallway. Follow the signs and the crowd to the Federal Inspection Services area (there's only one way to go). When you get there, you'll:

  • Follow signs (and airport staff) to the appropriate line. Depending on the airport and terminal, the exact process may be slightly different, but there will be lines for US Citizens and various categories of visitors. There is usually staff in this area if you are unsure where to go.

  • Immigration / passport control. Some visitors may use an automated kiosk first; simply follow the instructions to scan your passport and complete your declaration. You'll end up at a booth with a US immigration officer. Present your passport and customs declaration form and answer any questions the officer may have about your trip (purpose of your trip, where are you staying, etc...). Your fingerprints and photograph will be collected at this time. Assuming you are admitted, the officer will stamp your passport and direct you to the next step.

  • Baggage claim. Check the TV monitors to see what carousel is serving your flight, go there, and pick up any checked luggage. You must pick up your checked luggage here when entering the U.S., even if you are connecting to another flight. Grab your bags and take them through:

  • Customs. Here, you'll present your declaration form to an officer, who may ask you a few questions about your possessions. At this point, you'll either be directed to the exit (which is typical) or selected for further scrutiny (which is not atypical, but less common). If selected, they may X-ray your bags and/or open them and look inside. They have the authority to search your bags and/or person.

  • Exit. Once you are done, you'll reach the exit. Here, there will be signs for "ground transportation" (if the airport you arrive into is your final destination, and you plan to leave the airport) and "connecting flights" (if you will be boarding another onward flight). For connecting flights, there is a "bag drop" counter where you return your checked luggage to the airline so it will be checked onto your next flight. At this counter, you can ask the staff to ensure you know where to go for your connection. At some airports, you may have to take a train or shuttle bus to get to the terminal your onward flight leaves from. You will go through TSA airport security before being allowed back into the terminal.

As for the computer and television, the customs declaration form explains the rules. As a visitor to the US, you will list "the total value of all goods (including commercial merchandise) you or any family members traveling with you are bringing into the United States and will remain in the United States." So if you plan to leave the computer or TV behind as a gift or for sale, you would need to declare that. If the computer and TV are simply for your personal use during your trip and you will be taking them back to Turkey, then you don't need to declare them. If you're unsure, you can always ask, which is far preferable to not declaring something you need to declare.

  • 2
    If you use the kiosks, you fill in the customs declaration on it
    – Berwyn
    Sep 22, 2016 at 19:25
  • Your fingerprints and photo will also be taken at the kiosk, and you may thereafter not interact with a immigration officer at all, but be directed (by signage) directly to customs...where you may again not interact with a customs officer at all. Mar 15, 2019 at 22:10

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