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Athens Greece customs entry and luggage from USA

Do you save any time if you carry on baggage ?
Or is there such a wait to go through customs it doesn't matter whether you checked a bag or carry on

I have not flown to Europe in 30 years. I like to get on a plane and carry on so its easier to get off and go. But is that not the case upon arrival in Athens?

Thanks for the help in advance

How long should it take before you get out of airport?

Posted by
4822 posts

What is your flight plan prior to arriving? Are there other stops in Europe? It may affect whether Immigration is done in Athens, or elsewhere.

Aside from that, Customs anywhere in Europe is no delay, waiting for a bag may be.

Posted by
145 posts

I fly direct from Philadelphia to Athens arrive 9 am I am packed to carry on but was wondering if t really mattered since going through the customs.

Posted by
4822 posts

When you arrive in Athens, you will go through Immigration, typically this is the most delay, it could be 10 minutes, it may be over an hour, though Greece never seemed too busy. Customs is a non-issue, you simply either walk out the door with a green sign indicating "No Declarations" or if you do have something to claim (rare) you head to the red signed customs area, you have to seek them out. after waiting in immigration, your bag, if you checked one, may already be waiting, or you may wait again.

I usually carry-on on the way over, just so I do not risk losing a bag, and potentially to save some time.

Posted by
23568 posts

Many North Americans are puzzled by what happens with their encounters with officials on landing in Europe, what is sometimes lumped together by them as "customs".

The three activities after you get out of the jetway or bus and make the long walk are Immigration, baggage collection and finally Customs.

Immigration tends to be the slowest. That is because the Immigration officials are interested in WHO you are, when they decide if you have what they need in terms of answering their questions, checking your identity, checking and stamping your passport, and if they don't like the first bunch of answers arranging for secondary questioning. If you get behind somebody who causes questions it will hold you up. If you get behind several of those, everybody in the line just waits their turn.

On the other hand, sometimes you get somebody who asks few questions, everybody has their passport open to the correct page, and the line fair hums along.

Then it is to the baggage carrousel where if Immigration isn't on greased lightning you bag will be waiting for you, gently circulating.

Then to Customs. They care only about WHAT you have with you that you are bringing into the country. These are the guys (and ladies) in the US who take everything out of your cases and ask lots of embarrassing questions about the fish heads you are bringing back.

In Europe (I haven't done Athens but I am sure it is like the rest of EU land) generally Customs is a non-event. You will be presented with three channels, or streams or doors to exit by. The rotating knives are behind the middle door, usually, the booby prize is often behind door number one, and the car and the boat are behind door number three, usually.

Oh wait - wrong show!!! oops sorry.

Back to Customs. The three channels usually, for an EU country, are "Nothing to Declare", "Something to Declare", or "European Union". They are often, but not always, identified by colour - Green for Nothing to Declare, Red for Something to Declare, and Blue for EU.

Usually that part is just a walk through - but even though you can't see the inspectors they are there watching, and can pull people out of the green channel - and then you are through the frosted glass doors and into GREECE!!!

Posted by
64 posts

I can only say that on my flight into Athens, baggage claim took the longest.

Posted by
747 posts

Waiting for your luggage to show up takes more time than going through customs, but still much quicker than most other European airports like Heathrow, Charles de Gaul, etc.

Athens is quick and really not that time consuming . . . for the most part!

Posted by
26 posts

We arrived on a Sunday evening at Athens. Passport Control (immigration) took all of 5 min for the family. The officer took a quick glance and stamped the passports. We just walked through customs. Baggage claim is what took time.