In an effort to provide a safe and secure travel to the United States in July 2016 the Secretary of Homeland Security announced new enhanced security measures for travelling to the country. In a continuing effort to make international flights less risky electronic devices with low battery or no power will not be permitted on flights departing from Europe, Africa and the Middle East (or what the US authorities like to call ‘overseas’) to the United States.
You might wonder why? In fact all electronic devices concerned, from laptops, tablets, smartphones of any kind to more specific cases like iPhones from Apple and Samsung Galaxy are not considered entirely secure onboard a US inbound flight until they have been inspected while turned on. By now you are probably used to electronics being checked at airports, but this time if you forget to charge your batteries you might have to miss your flight. Be prepared and charge all your electronic devices before you leave or purchase an external USB-type battery as a backup on the go.
This new security measure takes into consideration that unfortunately, in this day and age electronics could might be diverted and used to activate bombs. By checking the battery of a fully functioning device the security agents can be sure that it has not been replaced by an explosive. If you’re prepared for the situation any additional check will go quickly and smoothly.
It is for your safety and convenience as well to remember that when it comes to security measures it is best to know what to expect at the airport. If you already have your approved ESTA and your ticket to the US make a checklist:
- Load ALL electronic devices you are taking for the trip.
- Give yourself enough time at the airport to avoid unnecessary stress.
- Store all chargers together with the respective devices.
In case your electronic device is out of power you might have to leave it at the airport or else you might lose your flight.
The US Customs and Border Patrol is also making background checks for travelers to the US more detailed – it has added some new questions to the online ESTA application asking you to provide: Other Names/Aliases or Other Citizenships, Parents name(s), National Identification Number (if applicable), Contact information (email, phone, points of contact), Employment information (if applicable), City of Birth, Previous travels and countries visited. In that respect note that since the beginning of 2016, the criteria for issuing electronic visas have become more detailed and they concern all those who have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen. It only means that you cannot enter the United States with an electronic visa. You could get your visa from the embassy or consulate.
Keep also in mind that security measures get updated all the time, depending on your point of departure even if you are a holder of a VWP participating country passport: in March 2017 DHS placed a ban all larger electronic devices onboard non-stop flights to the US originating in eight Middle Eastern countries and not only, including Turkey, Morocco and South Africa.
Plan your itinerary carefully if you want to avoid unnecessary delays and complications.