With your ESTA , you are about to embark for the United States. However, you fear your passage through customs at the arrival airport. It is true that the American authorities are not joking with security. Rest assured, you just have to respect the formalities for everything to go well. In this article, our experts will give you all their advice so that your passage through American customs proceeds smoothly.


That’s it, your long-awaited trip to the United States takes place in a few days. In order for your customs clearance to go smoothly upon your arrival, it is advisable to carry out a few formalities before the big departure:

  • be in possession of a valid biometric or electronic passport . If your passport is expired or old generation (optical passport), you must apply for a new passport at your town hall. Please check this relatively early before departure, as the waiting time for the issuance of a new passport is usually one month.
  • request an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) authorization in the case of a transit, tourist or business trip that does not exceed 90 days. This is a compulsory authorization to travel to the USA, implemented under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program). This program aims to facilitate trade to the United States. The request is made in the form of an online form to fill out. You have the possibility of carrying out this approach from the American government site or from the site of our partner who provides you with personalized assistance in order to complete the ESTA form . Although the form concerns you directly, inattention errors are not impossible, which could cost you obtaining your ESTA travel authorization. The time required to obtain an ESTA can range from a few minutes to 72 hours. Please make your request for ESTA at the latest 72 hours before departure. You have the possibility of printing your ESTA for your passage at the American customs. Note, however, that the customs officer will have access to your ESTA status from their computer, so printing the document is not compulsory.
  • If your stay in the United States is longer than 90 days or you want to go to work in the USA, you must apply for an American visa at the American embassy in your country. This process must also be carried out if the ESTA request has been refused to you . If you want to go live in the United States, it is advisable to apply for a green card.
  • although this is obvious, be sure not to forget your return ticket if it is a temporary stay.

Please note, if you arrive in the United States by land , ESTA will not be valid. You will need to complete a special form (l-94W).


On the plane, a blue form named 6059B will be distributed to you by the flight crew. This form should be filled in carefully, as you will be asked for this when you go through customs. The writing should be clear and without streaking. Please take this procedure very seriously, as customs officials will not hesitate to send you back in the queue (sometimes very long) if you have not completed this form. The information to be completed is notably your name, first name and date of birth, your passport number or your address on site.


You have finally arrived at your destination. When you arrive at customs, you will see several queues. Rest assured airport agents will be there to guide you. Do not try to pass in front of other people, this is very frowned upon in the United States. Just be sure to stay calm and wait quietly for your turn with the customs officer.

When your turn arrives, the customs officer will ask you for your blue form and your passport. He will then collect your fingerprints and take a photo of your face. He will end up asking you a few questions such as: what is the purpose of your trip? Have you ever been to the United States? What is the date of your return to France? And finally, do you have fruits, vegetables or other perishable goods with you? If the answer is yes, there is a good chance that the product will be confiscated from you. In fact, there are health restrictions on certain agricultural products in the United States. Please consult the list of authorized and prohibited products on the US Embassy website before you leave.

Have you passed through customs successfully? Congratulations! You are now allowed to stay on American soil. Have a nice trip to the USA!