Getting off a domestic flight of your own country is elementary but it can get complex or even intimidating when abroad and it starts at the airport.

This is a guide + timeline for what you should do in the first hour after arriving in a foreign country.

       12:00 PM         Your flight has landed.

       12:10 PM        As you wait to disembark, your passport, Arrival Card and Customs Card (if provided) should be filled out and be easily accessible for later on.

       12:15 PM        Whether this is your first or fortieth flight, arriving to a new and foreign country could be nerving but all international airports basically work the same way, by design. So don’t sweat it and keep moving, looking for those English signs and directions.

       12:20 PM        For the first few minutes all passengers will be walking in the same direction. Just follow the crowd. Eventually the passengers will split, transfers and arrivals. You are arrivals, keep walking and follow signs for “Immigration” or “Passport Control”.

       12:25 PM         Now you should see lines forming for “Foreign Passports” and “Local Passports”, go for the former.



       12:35 PM         When you get to the immigration officer, make sure you have your passport and above mentioned cards (if provided) in hand. Smile and say hi. If the cards are filled out properly, they won’t even ask you a question. Just a quick photo and maybe a thumbprint. Usually takes about a minute. Passport stamped.

       12:40 PM         Signs for “Baggage Claim” should now be within view. Follow it, even if you only have carryon as this will also be the way to the exit.

       12:45 PM        Now that you have all your gear, it’s time to look for “Customs”. There will be “Goods to Declare” and “Nothing to Declare”, either way you may need to give the officer the Customs Card you filled out earlier.

       12:50 PM         All official and mandatory checkpoints are now passed, you are free to travel the country. Instead of just exiting the airport, go to one of the many ATM’s that will be available and get some money out or exchange currency if you have any cash – these are the best ways to get money out abroad.

       12:55 PM         If you want to take a taxi into the city, look for the airport’s official station, try to avoid random solicitors trying to sell you a ride. Buses, shuttles and trains are easy to navigate in any country (via airport that is) and are always significantly cheaper as well as a good way to get a first feel for your new country.

       1:00 PM         Before getting on your transportation to leave the airport, buy a drink or snack so you can have small money to pay exact cost and to replenish yourself on this typically but relatively long ride.

The First Hour After Landing in a Foreign Country.

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  1. Great tip about buying something small before getting on a bus or taxi.

  2. Ugh, don’t you hate it when those immigration lines take hours? Literally 🙁

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