Customs used to be very easy to go through. You would just walk through hand them a piece of paper you filled out and say you had nothing to claim. Today, it’s much more difficult. The last time I went through customs in the US, it actually took longer than going through immigration.
They will ask you questions about the places you visited outside of the US and about your home country. They will ask you about what you are bringing into the US. Lots of things are either regulated or forbidden. You can’t bring in meat, soft/cheese or most agricultural products like fruits and vegetables. Oh and in case you were wondering, you can’t bring soil into the US either. Sorry. 🙂
There are other things that aren’t allowed, just make sure before you travel to look it up if you aren’t sure.
Here’s a sample dialog of what could happen at customs:
Customs officer: Hello, can I have your customs form and passport please.
You: Yes sir. (Again be as polite as you can with customs officers.)
Customs officer: Where were you before you came here?
You: I live in Japan. I didn’t travel anywhere before coming here.
Customs officer: Did you bring any liquor or alcohol?
You: Yes sir. One bottle of wine.
Customs officer: Anymore?
You: No sir.
Customs officer:Do you have any fruits, vegetables or plants?
You: No sir.
Customs officer: Do you have anything to declare?
You: No sir. I’m just visiting.
Customs officer: Okay, have a nice visit.
You: Thank you sir.