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Bring food, surrender passport and get it back after agrarian inspection

Bring food, surrender passport and get it back after agrarian inspection

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Old Sep 11, 18, 8:51 am
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Bring food, surrender passport and get it back after agrarian inspection

Probably old news, but new to me: Entered SFO from FRA yesterday and brought some food that i declared, including meat. Traveling with family member, i used non-GE lane. CBP immigrations officer took my passport and told me i would get it back at the agrarian inspection.

Everything turned out fine, and i got my passport back there, even got my canned meat through, but it was a bit scary at first. Agrarian inspector said it was a new rule from Washington. Wonder if they do it for non-US citizens too. That would be more scary IMHO.

Still don't quite understand how this rule helps, given how they always collect the customs declaration before they let you leave, and that form needed to have a stamp from the CBP immigrations officer. Have people been copying those stamps to import contraband like foie gras ? Whats the attack vector that this new rule protects against better ?
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Old Sep 11, 18, 10:02 am
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Each location is slightly different in how they handle secondaries. Your thoughts could be right--CBP may have found people using fake declaration cards and/or stamps to bypass stopping for the Ag secondary. By holding onto the passports, that stops people from using that tactic.
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Old Sep 11, 18, 11:41 am
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This also happens at US land borders. Passports disappear into a chute and reappear at secondary. It's not uncommon.
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Old Sep 11, 18, 12:32 pm
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It makes sense. Short of assigning an Officer to physically escort you, the best approach is to hang onto your passport until you are cleared.
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Old Sep 11, 18, 2:41 pm
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Hah. Didn't know this was common elsewhere. Didn't encounter this practice in 2 decades at SFO.
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Old Sep 11, 18, 7:16 pm
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Originally Posted by te36 View Post
Hah. Didn't know this was common elsewhere. Didn't encounter this practice in 2 decades at SFO.
Nope, I've never encountered it either. I have to admit, having my passport out of my sight would make me nervous. I know, they never get distracted and misplace or lose a passport, but if they did...

I just feel better with it in my hands or sight at all times.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:27 am
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I still can't figure out what the most important attack vector is that this procedure protect against. I mean i did declare food & meat in my customs declaration. So how would i have sneaked through agrarian inspection if they would not have taken my passport ?

I fill out another form form without food&meat declared ? Without a stamp from the CBP officer ? Fake the stamp ? Why would i not simply have not mentioned food&meat ? Ok, so the guy who takes my customs declaration is suspicious of me and sends me to agrarian inspection anyhow, now i pull out my original customs declaration and claim i declared everything so don't get fined ? Except that the guy who checked my customs declaration could simply give that one to the agrarian inspector ?

<redacted>

Last edited by TWA884; Sep 12, 18 at 9:30 am Reason: Opinion/commentary, not practical travel safety/security advice/information
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Old Sep 12, 18, 3:13 pm
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This makes sense as airports seem to be moving to unified customs/immigration as discussed in another thread, where the customs forms are collected by the primary offers and not checked at exit.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by iamflyer View Post
This makes sense as airports seem to be moving to unified customs/immigration as discussed in another thread, where the customs forms are collected by the primary offers and not checked at exit.
Ah, ok. i had not noticed / read that, but that would make sense. Indeed, there was no line checking the customs forms directly after immigrations, and now that you're mentining it, it seems there was no line to surrender the customs form after receipt of luggage either. Still a bunch of officers lingering around, but i can see how the goal might be to save on officers time to reduce cost.

Wonder if they would also keep the passport in this scheme when using the GE line, or if its good enough for CBP to know that the traveller won't like to have his GE status cancelled if he isn't showing up at the agrarian inspection. Oh well. will see next trip ;-)
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Old Sep 12, 18, 11:54 pm
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I arrived internationally at SFO this week. Was momentarily panicked after I realized passport control officer had not given me back my declaration or any other piece of paper , but then noticed there was not the usual check as I walked into the luggage area, and I then walked out the door with no further check.

So they will take the passports of all those going to secondary? That's a lot of passports to manage. There are going to be lots of same surnamed people getting off of the Emirates A380 - Sing, Patel, etc. Sounds logistically challenging to match everyone up with their passports.
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Old Sep 13, 18, 9:39 am
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Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
I arrived internationally at SFO this week. Was momentarily panicked after I realized passport control officer had not given me back my declaration or any other piece of paper , but then noticed there was not the usual check as I walked into the luggage area, and I then walked out the door with no further check.
you did not mention whether you ever got your passport back

Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
So they will take the passports of all those going to secondary? That's a lot of passports to manage. There are going to be lots of same surnamed people getting off of the Emirates A380 - Sing, Patel, etc. Sounds logistically challenging to match everyone up with their passports.
I guess they would only keep passports and hand out the customs declaration for those that need to go to agrarian inspection. Which is NOT "secondary" inspection. Secondary inspection in SFO is the small room all the way to the right after immigration counters, before luggage. It is reserved for those that have the "privilege" to receive special attention and service from CBP immigrations officers. No idea if they they keep your passport when you need to go to secondary these days. Last time i had the "privilege" to go to secondary is now 12 years ago when i had "advanced parole" immigration status, and indeed they treat you then like that status name would make you think they would. Even though that status is meant to be misleading. Different topic.

The agrarian inspector shoved my passport into my face and asked me if i recognize my passport. So matching up the passport to a person is outsourced to yours truly in that case. After all, when you are at agrarian inspection, you have successfully passed immigrations, so nobody but you has to care whether or not you end up getting back your correct passport. That of course would be different for secondary inspection.

I wonder how long it will take until one can actually travel without a physical passport.
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Old Sep 15, 18, 7:18 am
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Folks,

When posting in this thread, please keep in mind that, per the forum's sticky thread, the Practical Travel Safety and Security Issues forum is informational.

Please limit your responses here to facts, past experiences and data points. Save your opinion and commentary about US airports design, and the procedures and policies of the CBP and the TSA - the latter of which is off-topic for this thread - for the Checkpoints and Borders Policy Debate forum.

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