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When flying private, many travelers ask themselves the question: “Do private jets have to go through customs?” The short answer is yes. However, in most cases, the process is not quite what you would go through when traveling on a commercial plane. The rules will vary from one country to another, depending on your point of origin and destination.
Do Private Jets Have to Go Through Customs?
In this article, we’ll discuss how customs are handled when it comes to private flying and if private jets can land anywhere. We’ll highlight what you can expect in various scenarios.
The Customs Process
If you’re on an international jet charter, what typically happens is…. you’ll land, then head to the international arrivals ramp area for privately chartered flights. This may be a special ramp for international flights or a general private aircraft ramp. There you’ll be met by an immigration/customs officer(s) who will either board the aircraft or meet the Purser or Pilot-in-command at the boarding door. Once the flight’s paperwork is presented, the officer may or may not ask to speak/meet with each crew member/passenger. After that, the customs process will begin, which may or may not involve inspection of the aircraft and baggage. Smaller airports may make special arrangements to accommodate the number of passengers flying private from international destinations. Regardless, private jets will still have to go through customs whether you’re flying in or out of airports such as Sea-Tac or not. If you end up having to stay overnight for some reason during your flight, it’s always best to look into different airport hotels near you as well.
One Country to Another
Where can private jets fly? Virtually anywhere. That’s why the customs process varies from country to country. In certain countries, for example, you may be required to go through customs at a specific port of entry. One such case is when you’re heading to Bora Bora, which means you must stop in Tahiti. Similarly, you must stop at the first port of entry when entering the United States from Mexico.
In some cases, your operator may have an overflight permit that allows you to bypass customs at the first port of entry and complete the customs process at your destination. For example, when flying from Paris to LA, you could go straight to LA with no stops.
In the US, the airport you stop at for customs will depend on the FAA’s and CBP’s specific regulations for your country of departure as well as the operators’ overflight permits. Every passenger is required to go through customs and declare anything of value they’ve brought in, whether it’s goods or cash. Private planes will usually have separate custom stations in the US, which means fewer passengers to clear than commercial airlines. As such, the process takes less than about 15 minutes.
Some countries have no separate customs stations for private flights, which may mean no difference between the customs process when flying commercial and flying private. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this and there are often very few exceptions to going through customs. For example, you may be allowed to skip customs on emergency medical flights.
With the tips mentioned, you can now comfortably answer the question: Do private jets have to go through customs? Ultimately, it all comes down to the rules and regulations set by the different countries you’re flying to and from. Nonetheless, baggage checks and security procedures are typically minimal when flying on a private jet compared to flying commercially.