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Clearing Customs and Border Protection

Welcome International Travelers

To ensure a satisfactory trip for every traveler into the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has partnered with George Bush Intercontinental Airport under its Model Port initiative.

The airport is one of two in the nation piloting a new, more welcoming approach to international travel into the United States (see video to the right). In addition, CBP has put together a Top 10 List of recommendation for travelers.

To view this list in English Click Here.

Para ver esta lista en español, haga Cliq Aquí.


Clearing Customs and Border Protection

Arriving international travelers must first clear the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, where uniformed, multilingual Special Service Representatives (SSRs) are available to assist passengers.

These representatives speak more than 20 different languages.

Passports, Visas (if required) and other necessary documents must be completed correctly and available for the Immigration inspector.

After claiming their bags, passengers enter the U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. A Customs declaration form, which is distributed on the plane, should be ready for inspection by the Customs officer. There is a CBP Agriculture Specialist available to examine food, plants or other perishables for travelers carrying these items. Passengers who have duty to pay may do so at the cashier window adjacent to the exit doors of the Customs and Border Protection area.

See table below for further instructions.

International travelers beware:
Traveling international passengers should be aware that no single entity or organization has any control over the length of time that it takes for any person to clear the U.S. Customs and Border Protection process at any airport. Claims by individuals or corporations stating that they can expedite the process of clearing Customs and Border Protection for a fee are false. Please be aware that having the appropriate identification, Custom’s forms and necessary entry paperwork filled out before you enter the Customs and Border Protection area are effective ways to expedite the inspection process.

Final Destination Houston International/Domestic Flight Connections
International Arrivals must first clear Passport Control prior to picking up luggage at the lower level. Be sure to have all necessary forms ready. The blue Customs Declaration form is turned in to a Customs and Border Protection officer; if no additional baggage inspection is necessary you will exit Customs and go past the recheck area to the greeter lobby. Passengers holding boarding passes may recheck bags just outside the Customs area exit doors. Airline representatives are available here to answer questions. Exceptions: passengers holding separate tickets to connect to a foreign flag carrier will check in at the Terminal D ticket counters.
Terminal D Check-in From Recheck area to Domestic flight departures & Terminal E
Passengers may take the elevator or escalator for the walkway to Terminal D and go up one level. Ticket counters are to the right. For D gates, go through security screening and up the escalators to the appropriate gate. If holding boarding passes, clear security at level two turn left for Gates C29-C45 & E1-E24. Turn right for Gates D1-12 or B60-B91 & C14-C28. An above ground people mover runs every 90 seconds to Terminal B and C.

SSRs staffing the visitor information booth immediately outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection exit can provide airport and tourist information.

The white airport telephones located throughout each terminal are for paging assistance. Visually or hearing impaired individuals may request additional information by calling 281/230-3000 or our TDD number, 281/230-3089.

International travelers beware:
Smuggled birds brought into the United States without undergoing inspection or quarantine can increase the chance that deadly avian diseases such as avian influenza, exotic newcastle disease and parrot fever will infect the U.S. bird population and spread to people or other animals.

To ensure the public is aware of the dangers associated with smuggling live birds and poultry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is displaying public service announcement posters on bird smuggling at more than 320 U.S. ports of entry.

The two posters, Bird Flu–What You Need to Know and Don’t Smuggle Me: I could be sick, are the most recent actions taken by CBP to prevent the introduction of harmful plant and animal pest or disease into the U.S. through agricultural products. Other actions taken include:

Civil penalty increase–failure to declare agricultural items at U.S. ports of entry was increased to $300 for first time offenders.

Notice to Travelers–a flyer provided travelers to inform them why CBP is seizing agricultural items from baggage.

“Agricultural pests and diseases are a threat to U.S. food crops and livestock,” said Jeffrey Grode, executive director for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Programs and Liaison office. “Some of these organisms are highly contagious animal diseases that could cause severe economic damage to the livestock industry and losses in production, which would mean increased costs for meat and dairy products.”

Aside from smuggled birds, restricted items include meat, fruits, vegetables, plants, soil and products made from animal or plant materials. International travelers can help protect American agriculture against the introduction of foreign plant and animal pests and diseases by declaring all agriculture items and presenting them to CBP for inspection so that an agriculture specialist can determine if they are admissible.

For additional information, visit the CBP Web site at

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