10 Things You Never Say or Do When a Customs Agent Inspects Your Luggage

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are always on the look-out for lawbreakers.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol are always on the look-out for lawbreakers.
Border Agents respond to a call.
Border Agents respond to a call.

Let's applaud our Custom Agents.

Did you realize that the guys and girls who work for United States Customs seldom receive any credit or pats-on-the-back for doing a great job? That lack of recognition is not a confidence-building gesture. If I were a Customs Agent, I would be hacked to the bone.

Customs Agents are not some men and women who were looking for work and saw some ad asking for people to "fill positions" right away. These people are highly-trained and know every trick used by drug cartels to smuggle drugs into our country as well as people who make a good living off of smuggling things not allowed in our country. Things such as certain liquors, flowers, and the list would boggle your imagination.

Customs Agents are REAL agents for the Federal Government.
Customs Agents are REAL agents for the Federal Government.
Checking drivers license is only one task of the Border Patrol Agents.
Checking drivers license is only one task of the Border Patrol Agents.
This patch is worn with pride.
This patch is worn with pride.

Wise people respect Custom Agents.

In doing my research for this piece, I was amazed at how mentally-tough Customs Agents can be. Their eyes are always scanning the crowd of people returning from abroad carrying their luggage and dreading the inspection that Customs Agents have to perform in order for the people to enter or re-enter our country. It's all fair. No one, no matter how rich or poor they are, are treated any differently than anyone else.

The old saying, "if you are innocent, then you won't mind your luggage being inspected," certainly applies to the work of the United States Customs Agents. Frankly, I wouldn't want to be one. And for the one reason that even these Federal employees' lives are at risk with each suitcase they open. Why? Well, the suitcase may belong to a friend of some crime kingpin who resents his friends being rousted by authorities.

You can fill-in the rest.

In its day, this film was considered edgy and very  controversial.
In its day, this film was considered edgy and very controversial.
This Customs Agent is working very methodically to make sure there are no signs of drugs in the luggage she is inspecting.
This Customs Agent is working very methodically to make sure there are no signs of drugs in the luggage she is inspecting.
These Custom Agents are ready to pull another shift.
These Custom Agents are ready to pull another shift.
You cannot sneak by the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs Agents.
You cannot sneak by the U.S. Border Patrol and Customs Agents.
This Customs Agent's eyes are carefully-scanning the crowd for wanted criminals and people trying to bring illegal things to the U.S.A.
This Customs Agent's eyes are carefully-scanning the crowd for wanted criminals and people trying to bring illegal things to the U.S.A.
Drug kingpin arrested by Border Patrol.
Drug kingpin arrested by Border Patrol.
Even at night the Border Patrol and Custom Agents are always tracking major drug traffickers to bring them to justice.
Even at night the Border Patrol and Custom Agents are always tracking major drug traffickers to bring them to justice.

And to be totally-fair with you, the first-time travelers to Europe, just let me say that none of this hub is of a joking matter. It's serious. It will grow more serious if you try to "get one by" these "eagle-eyed" men and women who can spot a housefly in the dark at a hundred yards.

So just relax and give me enough time for you to read these

10 Things You Never Say or Do When a Customs Agent Inspects Your Luggage

But before I give you the 10 things, I am giving you this "bonus" information about Custom Agents.

Here Are Things That Custom Agents Do Not Appreciate:

  • For you to stand and glare at them while they inspect your goods.
  • For you to tell suggestive jokes hoping that the jokes will distract them from doing their job.
  • For you to be uncooperative.
  • For you to "act" stupid and not answer their questions.

Here Are Things That Custom Agents Do Appreciate:

  • For you to give them an honest smile.
  • For you to help them do their job quicker and faster.
  • For you to be attentive--answering all of their questions.
  • For you to act in a civil manner. Not like a smart butt.

Now here are those

10 Things You Never Say or Do When a Customs Agent Inspects Your Luggage

(Things not to say):

  1. "Hey, bud. Here's five-bucks if you will, uhhh, not look under my underwear."
  2. "Did I go to high school with you?"
  3. "Watch me do this magic trick. It won't take but a minute."
  4. "Would you like to have dinner with me?"
  5. "There is absolutely no cocaine in this overnight bag."

(Things not to do):

  1. Turn cart wheels while yelling, "I am the walrus - - - coo, coo, ka--choo!"
  2. Start a craps game with other travelers while waiting for your luggage to be inspected.
  3. Make foolish faces at the Custom Agents to get them to laughing to break their focus.
  4. Without warning, say, "That's it," and quickly grab your bags and try to run away.
  5. Start doing a variety of celebrity impressions that include Mitt Romney and Damon Wayons.

Now that you have the tools of how to deal with Custom Agents, happy traveling.

If a smuggler thinks that he can smuggle dope or other illegal items into our country, they have another thing coming: The U.S. Custom Agents.
If a smuggler thinks that he can smuggle dope or other illegal items into our country, they have another thing coming: The U.S. Custom Agents.

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Comments 10 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 18 months ago from Mississauga, ON

Very informative article written with great humour! I liked it.


Lee Hansen profile image

Lee Hansen 18 months ago from Vermont

On our first trip to Europe, German airports had armed military guards on duty on the day we were to return to US soil. They searched everything, even our dirty underwear. We were very cooperative but embarrassed. On return via Philly, agents strip-searched our 2 year old's diaper after a harrowing 10 hours in the air, unable to land in fogbound Boston. It was the worst experience I've had with customs, but not the only one. In 1995 I had the honor of being selected for hand searching as I reentered the US from Tokyo via LA, on a business trip. This time the agent who checked my computer and luggage was professional, but the agent who targeted me was a nasty female looking for trouble, although I have no idea why. Just be cooperative and you'll get through it - even if your rights are abused.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Suhail and my dog,

Thank you sincerely.

I appreciate your time in reading and commenting.

Peace.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Lee,

May I just say to you that after reading your interesting comment, "You are one tough girl." I mean that from the heart and you have more patience and integrity of heart than I ever will.

I admire you for sharing this comment and for standing tough under adverse-but-legal circumstances.

Please keep in touch with me.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 18 months ago from Oakley, CA

Interesting, and well done with serious information, yet presented with humor. Humor always helps information stick. ;-)

Now, as far as "if you are innocent, you won't mind..." .. Is not necessarily true. It would never occur to me to try to smuggle any contraband into the country (assuming I could afford to travel abroad in the first place), but I would indeed "mind" and be very uncomfortable to have strangers rifling through my private items such as underwear. Embarrassing, and a feeling of being violated; with one's privacy being invaded would be how I would feel. So, yes, I'd be innocent, and yes, I'd be "minding" very much.

That said, I've a funny story to share. I suspect that today's agents are far tougher than they used to be, and no one would get away with this stunt now. But a friend of my mothers told of coming home from Europe after her service in WWII, and she had a few bottles of booze too many, and wondered how to get through customs with her stash intact and not confiscated. She hit on a brilliant idea: put the booze bottles inside of various clothing items, in the middle layer, so they would not rattle, then, on the top layer, she opened a box of sanitary napkins, and spread them all across the top. When they got to customs, the agent opened her bag, saw that, turned a thousand shades of red, exclaiming, "Oh, Jesus Christ!!" and slammed the bag shut and passed her through. LOL

Voted up, useful, interesting and funny.


Lee Hansen profile image

Lee Hansen 18 months ago from Vermont

Hi Kenneth, Since that 1978 European adventure and the 1995 Asia return I've flown to Bermuda from Pennsylvania and back without incident. That trip was actually post 9/11 and the TSA agents and customs folks were thorough but polite at both ends. I've since, however, avoided air travel and haven't had an opportunity to travel outside the US. I have plans, though, to visit Canada in the next few years and expect that will be an easy border crossing from/to Vermont. Here's hoping, anyway!


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

DzyMsLizzy,

Again, I have to compliment you on your terrific comments that to me are "mini-hubs" in themselves. Honest.

I loved this one and the idea of the sanitary napkins was GENIUS. Pure genius. Never heard of such sharp-thinking.

I agree 100% with you on the custom agents rifling through your underwear and I bet some male agents sneak in a liberty or two, right? They should be brought up on charges like a regular policeman who crosses the line.

(Now I am upset).

Thank you, dear DzyMsLizzy, for always putting a smile on my face with your wonderful personality and talent.

God bless and thanks for the comment. (Watch this).

"Next."


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 18 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hello, Lee,

Thank you for your positive comment on how you have fared with the customs agents and their newest inspections.

I admire you for being so tough. And DzyMsLizzy also. Take me for instance. If I were flying somewhere and the agents started tearing-up my luggage that would ignite my OCD big time.

I am stopping here for I do not want to see myself in a dim-lit room being questioned by agents who do not know why I am being detained.

Thanks, Lee for your sweet comment.

Come back to see me soon.


Gloriousconfusion profile image

Gloriousconfusion 15 months ago from United Kingdom

It always makes me laugh when they ask "did you pack this yourself?" It would be just wonderful to have someone else do it for me whilst I just put my feet up.


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 15 months ago from Oakley, CA

LOL @ Gloriousconfusion -- The other one that always makes me shake my head and wonder "WTH are they thinking?" is at the start of a flight, when you are checking in, and they ask, "Did anyone add anything to your luggage without your knowledge?"

?????????!!!!!!!!!!Seriously?? Stupid questions, incorporated! If it was "without my knowledge," How the H** would I be supposed to know??

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