You should confirm your return reservation at least twice, and at least 72 hours before your scheduled departure. Whenever possible, obtain a written confirmation. If you confirm your return reservation by phone, record the time, day, and the name of the agent who took your call. If your name does not appear on the reservations list, you have no recourse and may find yourself stranded.
Some countries levy an airport departure tax on travelers, which can be as high as $50. Please ask the airline or a travel agent about this tax. Make certain to have enough money at the end of your trip so that you will be able to get on the plane.
Immigration and Customs
If a passport was required for your trip, have it ready when you go through Immigration and Customs. If you took other documents with you, such as an International Certificate of Vaccination, a medical letter, or a Customs certificate of registration for foreign-made personal articles, have them ready, also. Have your receipts handy, in case you need to support your customs declaration. When returning to the United States by car from Mexico or Canada, have your certificate of vehicle registration available. It is a good idea to pack your baggage in a way to make inspection easier. For example, pack the articles you acquired abroad separately, if possible.
Articles acquired abroad and brought back with you are subject to duty and Internal Revenue tax. U.S. Customs currently allows each U.S. citizen to bring back $400 worth of merchandise duty free, provided the traveler has been outside the United States for at least 48 hours, has not already used this exemption within the preceding 30 day period, and provided the traveler can present the purchases upon his or her arrival at the port of entry. The next $1,000 worth of items brought back for personal use or gifts are subject to duty at a flat 10% rate. (Your duty-free exemption may include 100 cigars, 200 cigarettes, and one liter of wine, beer or liquor. ) Make sure you check for the latest information as this changes periodically.
There are two groups of destinations from which the duty-free exemption is higher. These are a group of 24 countries and dependencies in the Caribbean and Central America from which the exemption is $600, and a group of U.S. insular possessions (the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam), from which the exemption is $1,200.
Ensure you declare all that you purchased or received as gifts overseas. If you are selected to have your baggage checked upon arrival, cooperate with the U.S. Customs agent and, unless you have something to hide, this should only take a few minutes. If you are caught with undeclared items, be prepared to pay stiff penalties.
Plan ahead – save time and money.