A Port of Entry, or “POE” is a specific place where a person can lawfully enter a country.  It is usually at a place like an international airport, railways, or ship docks, and at various highways along the national border.  In the U.S., ports of entry are generally attended to by staff and security personnel who perform tasks such as:

  • Checking travel and immigration documents such as passports and visas
  • Inspecting luggage for contraband or prohibited items
  • Monitoring trade and commerce activities
  • Conducting surveillance for person crossing illegally into the country

Is it Possible to Enter the U.S. at a Location That is Not a Port of Entry?

Before 9/11, it used to be possible to enter the U.S. at a non-designated area, such as a back road or other less well-traveled highway.  This was allowed so long as the person proceeded directly to an inspection area.

Now, however, most back roads and non-port entry points have been barricaded, and persons must pass through a customs gate to enter the U.S.  This is to prevent illegal immigration into the country as well as to prevent trade of drugs or other illegal items. 

In fact, attempting to enter the U.S. at a non-designated entry point may raise suspicion and can lead to an arrest, detention, and possible removal from the country. 

What Do I Need to Bring to a Port of Entry?

Anytime a person is leaving or entering the country, they will have to pass through a port of entry.  Whether the person is a U.S. citizen or not, it’s important that they follow the requirements of Customs and Border Protection services (CBP) when passing through a port of entry.  Travelers should bring the following:

  • Travel Documents
  • Valid visa
  • Valid passport
  • Photo ID
  • Any other documents or items requested by immigration authorities

Also, you should never attempt to bring any contraband, illegal items, or prohibited items.  For example, certain items that don’t seem illegal may be on a list of prohibited import items (such as fresh fruits, vegetables).  Even some non-perishable food items (like some chicken-flavored soup packets) may not be allowed. 

Prohibited will be confiscated at the entry point, and you won’t be able to retrieve them after you cross the border.  Thus, in order to save yourself loss of time and resources when entering a port, you should leave such items behind when packing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Entry Ports?

Entry ports are associated with very specific rules and procedures for entering properly into the U.S.  Before you attempt to enter or exit the U.S., you should familiarize yourself with requirements for travel documents and transportable items.  If you need assistance, you should contact an immigration lawyer for assistance.  Your attorney can advise you on the laws, and can represent you in court if you’re being summoned for an appearance in court.