When you arrive in a new country, one of the first things you'll have to do (even before you get to pick up your luggage!) is get through Passport Control. This is an important part of traveling to a new country, so you want to make sure you get through as quickly as possible and without any trouble. Here are my top 5 tips for getting through Passport Control efficiently.
1. Be Prepared
This mainly involves paying attention to what your particular location requires. There may be different lines for EU passports, US passports, and so on, so make sure you join the proper line. If there is paperwork to fill out, make sure you fill it out completely to the best of your knowledge. You can work on the paperwork while you stand in line to save a little time, but make sure that you will be done by the time it is your turn. Have your passport out and ready to hand over. Feel free to entertain yourself on your phone while in line, but as soon as you are within a few people of the front, put it away and pay attention.
2. Smile & Be Pleasant
Now, 99% of the time they won't smile back. In my experience people working passport control are very straight faced and brusque. But it never hurts for you to turn on the charm - flash a smile and be friendly. Even if it isn't reciprocated, I imagine they appreciate people who aren't grumpy back at them.
3. Don't Make Jokes
If you are the joking type, it can be hard to turn this off, but it will save you time. Along with being straight faced and brusque as I mentioned above, passport control workers usually don't have a sense of humor either. (At least at work, I'm sure outside of work they can take and tell a joke just fine). This isn't the time for sarcastic responses to questions or jokes of any kind. Keep the witty comments to yourself and you'll get through a lot faster than if they have to determine how serious you are about what you're saying.
4. Answer Clearly & Precisely
They will ask you direct questions, so give as direct of answers as possible. Keep your answers short and to the point. Try not to ramble on, giving more information than they asked for, as that might lead to more questions. Give exactly the information they ask for, nothing more, nothing less. Do not offer up extraneous details unless they ask for them.
5. Try Not to be Nervous
This can be hard, especially if it's your first time, or if the person seems particularly suspicious of you. Remember that you are doing nothing wrong (I assume!), so you have nothing to be nervous about. They are trained to spot nerves, and tend to think of them as a sign of wrong doing, so do your best to hide any you may have. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that what you are doing is perfectly fine, and follow the steps above.
All of these points will help the passport control person do their job efficiently, which means you can get through efficiently. They are looking for nefarious people, so you want to clearly and quickly make them see that is not you, so they can move on to the next person. Remember that their job is very important, and you want to help them do it well!