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Immigration and Customs

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Richland, Washington
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Immigration and Customs

Allow three hours to get through Immigration and Customs in Houston.

Houston, Texas
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for Solo Travel
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192 reviews
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1. Re: Immigration and Customs

It's pretty good guidance. I've used 2-1/2 hours as my personal reference point, for times when I lived elsewhere, and connected international to domestic at IAH. One Stop is a nice option, for those who are only traveling with carry-ons.

Houston, TX
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2. Re: Immigration and Customs

Article in today's Houston Chronicle would have you believe differently. They talk about the installation of 20 automated kiosks at IAH that have reduced wait times by 34% since they were installed last month. US and Canadian citizens are able to scan their own passports, complete paperwork and confirm travel information before reaching a Customs agent to complete the transaction, according to the article. They go on to say that in January 2013 average wait time for international passengers arriving at IAH was 32 minutes; now the average wait time is 21 minutes. This, of course, is just for the initial contact at Immigration control and does not include waiting for baggage or actually leaving the arrivals hall, where you submit your customs form to a different agent.

I agree with bk_11 above--if you are making a connection at IAH allow plenty of time. My own sense of risk management is similar--allow plenty of time since it's better to have to wait a bit to make your scheduled connection than to worry about time, having to dash to the next gate only to miss your flight and then deal with all that that entails.

Anyone who travels internationally frequently should look at the Global Entry program, which also includes the TSA Pre-Check system. We are enrolled in this, and it is a tremendous time saver, as well as making air travel a bit more pleasant at the security checks.

Richland, Washington
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3. Re: Immigration and Customs

While we were trying to get through the 20 new kiosks, all 20 of them went down at the same time dumping all of us onto three agents. Another government system not ready for prime time. An agent shared with us that this happens routinely, the effort to get rid of his job is failing miserably, and then you get to go through customs, another bottle neck with three agents. Happy travels.

Houston
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for Houston
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4. Re: Immigration and Customs

Another vote for TSA Pre-Check and GOES--saves us tremendous time every time we travel. You spend, if I recall correctly, $85 every five years, at which time you have to re-enroll, but it's well worth the time. Houston just opened another office off the I-610 loop east for processing requests, so it's not necessary to go to IAH any longer for your interview.

Pearland, Texas
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5. Re: Immigration and Customs

Thanks for that info GeneT. I didn't know that.

Pearland, Texas
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6. Re: Immigration and Customs

One major issue with entry control in Houston is that there are LONG walks between the stations. That accounts for maybe 20 minutes or so just from the walking.

Houston
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for Houston
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7. Re: Immigration and Customs

Here's a partial reprint of the article that appeared in yesterday's Houston Chronicle about the new TSA office in Houston: chron.com/default/photo/Universal-Enrollment…

Unfortunately no phone number is provided, and I feel certain an appointment is required to visit them in order to get approved.

Houston, TX
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8. Re: Immigration and Customs

I would expect that the procedure for that office is similar to the one followed for the airport office. You go online to apply (have your current passport handy, as well as a list of international travel you have made in the last 5 years--you will need this for the application). You pay your fee (which is non-refundable, as I recall, if you are not approved, but the details about that are on the website). You receive an email telling you that your application has been received and letting you know that you need to check the website for updates--they do no email you directly. If/when you are conditionally approved, you must schedule an appointment at the office, which you do online. During our appointment, we saw a video presentation about the GOES program, and then sat down with one of the customs agents. A few questions were asked, we were photographed and fingerprints were taken (not the messy way you see on TV :-) ), and that was that. You receive an email notification about your approval, and then you receive your global entry card in the mail. For us, less than 3 weeks from start to finish.

The office at IAH is located in Terminal E.

Houston
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9. Re: Immigration and Customs

TxOffWeGo--Great info for all who are interested (and everyone who flies should be!) Here's a great website to locate your nearest TSA office after you'd applied online per the above instructions: https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/locator

Houston
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10. Re: Immigration and Customs

This is a website well worth bookmarking (and sharing!):

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/wait_times/

It breaks down the number of passengers and how long it took to process them based on dates and locations of your choice.