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Asking where to plan on customs delays in going through Airports on Europe trip

Hello,

Was just checking my plans and making sure all the times lined up and I want to verify my assumptions on where to plan for extra time to go through customs going to Europe. Looked in the FAQ and the Travel tips section first. Probably just so basic that people don't think to list it.

I was assuming the biggest delays would be going through customs leaving the US and whichever International airport I went through to come back to the US (with extra delay coming back when I got here for US customs).

Is this true? I am flying from Portland Or to Amsterdam (AMS) then a connecting flight to Venice and I'm starting to worry about how long it's going to take me to get through whatever is at Amsterdam in time to catch my Venice connecting flight. From the tickets it looks like I have 2 hr which I probably thought was plenty when I was deciding.

Thanks in advance,
Robert

Posted by
14675 posts

Through Amsterdam you should be fine. It is only about a 5 minute line to go through passport control. You do not have to collect bags first like the USA. You actually will clear customs (taxes on imported goods) at Venice airport. That usually means just exiting through the "Nothing to Declare" door after you collect your bags.

From my experience, if you have a tight connection (30 minutes or less), you can just ask the line controller to move you to the front of the line when you show them your boarding pass.

Posted by
13143 posts

Are you on a single ticket to Venice with a transfer at AMS, or did you buy separate tickets Portland-Amsterdam and Amsterdam-Venice?

Customs is not where you might run into a delay. Customs deals with goods. Don't take agricultural products with you and you should be fine. It's Immigration where you can get stuck in a long line upon arrival, plus airport security at departure.

Posted by
4707 posts

When traveling to Europe It’s immigration that takes time, not customs. 2 hours might be okay but you never know.

As far as your return to the states it can be lengthy. I opted to be interviewed and pay for Global Entry a few years ago. Best decision I ever made. Now when I fly back to LAX, I get to go to a Global Entry kiosk, scan my passport and my finger prints and I’m done. Did it a week ago. Took all of a minute.

Posted by
4166 posts

Customs:You will fill out a form for reentry to the US( if you don't have Global Entry) asking what you bought, amount spent in another country. There is a large exemption, $800 I think, and you only pay duty if you exceed that.
I think you are confusing customs with passport control when you enter another country. Unless you an import/export business I doubt you will deal with. Customs abroad, just walk through "nothing to declare" exit. The lines will be for passport control.

Posted by
4060 posts

also, dont confuse passport control (immigration) or customs, with security checks. You can be asked to show your passport and boarding passes in multiple places at any airport.

Posted by
6425 posts

Amsterdam is usually pretty efficient BUT next time you book, give yourselves 3 hours when you are transiting thru your first International arrival. That is usually where you will go thru Immigration (there are some exceptions) so give yourselves plenty of time. Within the US, I usually allow 2 hours for domestic flight transferring to domestic flights.

Coming back home, if you are catching a flight back to Portland from Amsterdam you'll have to go thru Immigration exit lines in Amsterdam plus security again for your US flight. In Portland you'll go thru US Immigration and then US customs. Both of those can take varying amounts of time.

Posted by
1118 posts

We took a similar route from Sea Tac >Schiphol >Venice 5 months ago. We were on one ticket through Venice. We checked our luggage through Venice. Passport Control was swift & organized. Schiphol is our preferred connection. If you do check your luggage through from Portland>Venice just be sure to check the tag to read VCE before it leaves the conveyor belt. We had about a 3 hr. layover and had plenty of time to relax prior to takeoff.

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you all for the replies. I still don't know how long it's going to take me at AMS(Amsterdam). I'm coming in as a tourist on a Icelandir ticket from Portland to AMS. I got a second connecting flight there (AMS) to go to Venice (VCE). I believe it's a KLM flight. I have only a carry on bag and just doing a first trip tourist thing. It seems like it might be tight. I'll know better next time.

Posted by
1847 posts

You are calling it a connecting flight but it sounds like you purchased two tickets? If it is a connecting flight (you purchased one ticket for the entire trip) the airline needs to get you to Venice if your initial flight is delayed. If you did indeed purchase two tickets you are at risk if a delay (flight, immigration, whatever) causes you to miss your flight you lose the money and have to get another flight to Venice, assuming a seat will be available. AMS functions well with immigration and, if your first flight is on time you should be OK. But I’d start looking at plan B-see what later flights to Venice are available.

Posted by
14675 posts

If you are flying on Iceland Air, you go through immigration in Iceland when you change planes. If you land in Amsterdam with only carry on bags close to on-time, no sweat.

It is only if you get delayed more than 1 hour arriving in Amsterdam that you have to worry.

Posted by
42 posts

Thanks Sam, seems like I got a shot. Alan, yes I purchased two tickets. Seemed like a good idea at the time. I'll have to deal with whatever happens but it may work out.

Posted by
42 posts

Sorry, false alarm. Just been reconciling all the details and I have 3 hrs and 35min between arriving at AMS from the Icelandir flight and catching the KLM fight to Venice. From the comments here, and me only having carry on, should be no problem. Now I have to figure out how to get from Venice (VCE) to my Hotel. Hopefully it won't be too dark by then.

Posted by
4827 posts

Now I have to figure out how to get from Venice (VCE) to my Hotel

Ask the hotel or look at their website FAQs. Good chance it will give you the info you want.

If you are stopping in Iceland, that is where you will enter the Schengen Zone. Immigration will happen there.

When you arrive in AMS, it will be like a 'domestic' flight. Your 3+ hrs should be plenty of time to make your next flight.

Customs will occur in Venice. ( probably a nothing event).

Posted by
42 posts

Thanks. I think I was just mini-panicking with the added realization that, worst case, I take a later flight. Now, not even that. Just a first time traveler nerves.

Posted by
7689 posts

So, let's make this all concise for you:

Portland---no exit customs or immigration. The U.S. doesn't do that.

Keflavik (Iceland)--immigration for the Schengen region

Amsterdam--security (Yes, another security screening.)

Venice--customs--(green door/passage)--just walk through. Doubtful you'll be stopped.

Posted by
21808 posts

And if you want to post your hotel here many of us will know where to go on their website for their suggestions, one or two of us may know the hotel, and / or be familiar with the area where it is and have some hints.

When is the trip?

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you for the summary, it was helpful. Haven't been so I wasn't aware of how the security is split up.

The trip is at the end of March. The Venice Hotel I'm trying to get to for the tour is:

Hotel La Fenice et Des Artistes

fenice@fenicehotels.it

www.fenicehotels.it

Posted by
7905 posts

"I wasn't aware of how the security is split up". Security isn't split up. Security occurs before you get on a plane, each time.

Immigration and customs are nothing to do with security, they are government legal functions. They happen when you cross borders whether you are flying, or other methods of transport (train, car, bicycle, . . . ).

  • Immigration is a check on people, whether you can be let into the country. This occurs when you enter the Schengen Area, in your case in Amsterdam.
  • Customs is the check on goods, whether they can be let into the country and if any taxes need to be paid. This can only happen when you get your bags back, so not at Amsterdam, but at your final destination (Venice). This is a random check only, 95%+ are not stopped.
Posted by
2396 posts

Amsterdam--security

When I've changed planes in Amsterdam, there was no security to go through. We were behind security the whole way.

Immigration is a check on people, whether you can be let into the country. This occurs when you enter the Schengen Area, in your case in Amsterdam.

Since the OP is flying Icelandair, I assume he'll be going through Reykavik (sp?), so he'll go through immigration there, and won't have to go through immigration in Amsterdam.

Posted by
42 posts

Yes I will have about 1 1/2 layover in Reykjavik at about 6 AM. I assume that's where Immigration will be.

Posted by
1010 posts

The USA does do exit control but it's handled electronically behind the scenes when you depart by airplane. There's a point in the e-paperwork process where the airline sends a final flight information document and passenger manifest including passenger nationalities and passport numbers to ICE, at which time you're officially 'checked out' of the country.

Posted by
4471 posts

And coming back to the U.S. you will go through U.S. Customs (what are you bringing in?) and Immigration (passport check, welcome home!) -- download the free Mobile Passport app and set it up before you leave home, then activate it after you land and head for the shorter line.

Posted by
12438 posts

Your hotel is close to Piazza San Marco. From Marco Polo Airport, the simplest cheap way is to take the Alilaguna orange line to S. Maria del Giglio (then a 5 minute walk). If you miss that stop, the next one is the end of the line at San Marco and it's a 7 minute walk. They leave frequently and take about 1.25 hours. The simplest expensive way is to take a water taxi. It will save you half an hour or more, but will cost you €€€. Walking in Venice can be disorienting. Print out detailed walking directions from both stops with a google map!!

Oh, when you get off the plane and walk into the terminal, there will be a ticket agent that sells the Alilaguna and Vaporetto tickets. When I was there a couple years ago, it was on the left, before the baggage carousels. Then follow the signs - it's a long walk but straightforward. Then you line up for the vaporetto. Make sure you are in the right place for the orange line. The other lines also go to San Marco and take the same amount of time but they don't stop at S. Maria del Giglio. On the other hand, it's better to take another line than wait half an hour or more for the orange line. My advice is to ask the staff at the pier which to take.