Release Date: June 25, 2021
Chicago — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced today the implementation of proactive measures in anticipation of an expected three-fold growth in passenger volume for the 2021 summer season at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Midway International Airports (MDW).
CBP expects the passenger count to reach 18,000 a day, compared with 4,500 a day in the summer of 2020 – an increase of more than 300 percent.
The expected reemergence of international travel is the result of the current vaccination levels, and subsequent lifting of local COVID-19 restrictions which will bring more international tourists as local attractions re-open.
“CBP is proactively mitigating any potential impact in wait times by maximizing our available resources,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago. “In order to improve the traveler’s experience this summer, we are realigning personnel during the peak hours and will be constantly adjusting those resources based on passenger demand.”
Starting immediately, CBP at ORD and MDW will combine available resources to staff primary inspections during peak times, while maximizing the use of biometric technology to create a more seamless, secure, and safer travel experience to expedite passenger processing. CBP will also work closely with industry partners and stakeholders on passenger flow efficiencies and will keep the traveling public informed about how to avoid unnecessary delays.
“We are advising travelers to be prepared for a high volume of passenger traffic,” said Shane Campbell, Area Port Director-Chicago . “Just downloading the CBP Mobile Passport Control App (MPC) on their smartphones would allow travelers to skip long lines by using MPC dedicated lanes.”
Top Ten Tips for international travelers:
- Wear a face mask. Face masks remain mandatory for employees and passengers, regardless of vaccination status.
- Take all the travel documents required for the countries you are visiting, as well as identification for your U.S. reentry. U.S. citizens need passports to reenter the country by air. Go to www.state.gov/travelers for destination information.
- Use your smartphone and skip the long lines. Available to download on Google Play Store or Apple App Store CBP Mobile Passport Control App streamlines a traveler’s entry into the U.S. Once your QR code is obtained, look for MPC dedicated processing lines.
- Declare everything you bring in from abroad, even if you bought it in a duty-free shop. Be cautious when buying something from street vendors. Items brought abroad for personal use or as gifts are eligible for duty exemptions. If you are bringing them back for resale, they are not eligible for duty exemption.
- Be aware of U.S. prohibited merchandise, such as ivory, tortoiseshell products, and counterfeit items.
- Many foreign-made medications are not approved for United States use and are not permitted in the country. When traveling abroad, bring only the medication you will need. Make sure the medication is in the original container.
- Travels to and from Cuba – Before departing on your trip, check the latest information for the full list of prohibited and restricted items on the U.S. Department of the Treasury Cuba Sanctions website, as well as other related government resources.
- Before bringing food to the United States, please check the list of prohibited items. All live animals, birds and bird products may be restricted, quarantined or require certification.
- CBP officers can inspect you and your belongings without a warrant to enforce U.S. laws.
- For transit passengers, give yourself enough time in between connection flights due to possible increase of wait times.
For more information, read the CBP brochure, “Know Before You Go.” Request printed copies or view it online at www.cbp.gov/newsroom/publications/cbp-publication-catalogue.
Office of Field Operations (OFO) is the largest component in CBP and is responsible for border security—including anti-terrorism, immigration, anti-smuggling, trade compliance, and agriculture protection—while simultaneously facilitating the lawful trade and travel at U.S. ports of entry that is critical to our Nation’s economy.