Syfa & Ganjar

10 Tips for a Smooth, Stress-Free Airport Immigration

Written by Syfa

Have you ever heard of a tourist being denied entry into a country and having been deported back to their home country? If you're wondering, yes, that happened a lot. When they arrive at their destination airport, they're told to go straight home again.

They are mostly denied entry at the immigration counter since many countries have strict immigration checks for tourists coming from certain countries. One of the significant purposes is to prevent illegal immigrants and workers.

Nowadays, many people pretend to travel when, in fact, they stay and work illegally in that country. And that has become a real problem throughout the years. So to avoid this, some countries have to carry out strict custom checks on tourists.

However, some tourists who really want to travel are often denied when going through customs. The reasons vary, but mostly they are not very convincing to immigration officers that they are 'real' travelers. Because when it comes to traveling, the process of going through customs and border protection can be a real hassle.

So, in this article, I'd like to share 10 top tips for going through customs smoothly and completely stress-free! But remember, though, this information is made solely to give you tips and tricks, not to outsmart immigration officers to escape and become illegal immigrants.

1. Have All The Necessary Documents

necessary document for travel

Before passing through the immigration area, you should prepare all supporting documents, such as a passport, visa (if required), boarding pass, and any other documents that you may need. Make sure to keep those required documents in a safe and easy-to-reach compartment in your bag.

This is to make the process smooth when the customs officers ask for the documents. Avoid digging through your bag (that surely will take time) and makes the officers roll their eyes at you.

2. Stay Calm

You don't need to be nervous when queueing or being asked some questions by the officers. You're not criminal smuggling some drugs. You're just a traveler who wants to enjoy some holiday time. When you're nervous, shaking, and sweaty, you'll be targeted by the customs officer! So, staying calm and relax would be a good option.

3. Answer All The Questions

konter imigrasi
immigration counter

When you're at the immigration counter, giving a smile and greeting the officer won't hurt. But remember that some officers don’t mind small talk, but most of them do. They see thousands of people every week and don’t want idle chit-chat. So, if they ask you questions, answer them honestly and appropriately.

If you don't understand the questions, don't hesitate to ask them to repeat the questions. If you can't answer them in English, some gestures will help.

4. Prepare Your Return Ticket

Tiket SQ
E-Ticket from Singapore Airlines

One of the documents often requested by immigration authorities is an airplane return ticket. This ticket will be strong evidence that you, travelers, will be back to your home country and will not stay illegally at the destination country.

The ticket can be displayed in a digital form, such as PDF, email, or apps you used to book the flights. But for your inconvenience, I suggest you also print out the ticket and have it all collected with all your travel documents.

5. Know Where You're Staying at

Booking hotel
The example of hotel booking confirmation

Apart from your return ticket, you are also suggested to display your booking confirmation of where you're staying--hotel, hostel, apartment, or Airbnb house. Never book your stay right when you arrive at your destination because you'll be given a nasty look by the customs officer.

Make sure to book the stay based on your holiday duration. If you're planning a 7-days trip, book the place for seven days, even though it's from different hotels/apartments. Don't book a stay for less than the trip duration.

It is also highly recommended to book a stay that has been paid virtually, not paid on the spot. It can be much convincing because you've already made the payment. If you choose to pay it on the spot, you might cancel it, and this can cause hesitation for the officers.

Same as the plane ticket, you can also show the electronic confirmation booking or print it out. Make sure the address and phone number where you stay are there because the officers sometimes will call the place to ensure they have your order.

6. Take Your Old Passport

Paspor lama

If you happen to renew your passport, don't forget to bring your old one. This proves to be useful, especially when you've got several stamps and visas in it. It can be relevant proof that you travel a lot.

7. Know Your Itinerary

When my husband traveled to Japan in 2018, it was all over the news that many tourists from some countries were not allowed to enter the country, and resulting in deportation. Apart from preparing documents, my husband and his friends tried to know and learn their itinerary very well. While waiting for the depart, they read again and again the itinerary that they printed.

So, why the itinerary? Because some officers unexpectedly asked what the places or attractions a traveler will visit. Some detailed questions are sometimes asked, too. So, never go for travel with unplanned activities or you'll freeze when asked about your destination at immigration counter.

8. Bring Cash

Uang asing

Having cash is also crucial. Make sure you've got enough cash even if you've prepared credit/debit card. Cash happens to be more convincing since the money in an account may be outsmarted.

How much do I have to own?

You can adjust it to the standard living cost and trip duration when we're in the destination country. In Japan, for example, you will need about 10.000 yen per day, so if you plan a 7-day trip, you will have to have 70.000 yen.

9. Bring Your Certificate of Employment

To prove that you're not currently looking for a job, you can bring your certificate of your employment from your company. Make sure it's written in English so the officers can understand it. Other than that, you can also bring your ID Card for additional document. What I'm trying to say is be as prepared as you can to convince the customs.

10. Pack Light and Keep Your Baggage Organized


The last thing is to pack your suit lightly and keep your bags organized. Make sure you don't look like you're trying to escape from home. Dress comfortably and appropriately when passing through the checkpoint. It's important to keep yourself clean and in good smell.

Security may also ask you to remove other items of clothing, so avoid wearing anything that’s difficult to take on and off.

Well, those are some tips so to go through the immigration smoothly without any problems. Hopefully these tips will be useful for our readers, especially for those who are traveling abroad for the first time.

If you want to know other travel tips and hacks for a first-timer, you can also read the tips on how to board an airplane for the first time that has been written. See you!

We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →

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We are a newlywed couple who loves to eat and travel from one place to another. In this blog, we will share our favorite experiences when visiting various tourist attractions and tasting the delights of good food!

More about Syfa & Ganjar →
Syfa & Ganjar
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