How To Deal With Immigration Officers When Crossing Borders

You could be travelling from Kenya to Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi or even Kigali. Along the way, you are going to meet immigration officers at the borders of these countries. This can be to give you a visa on arrival, to check your documents or simply inquire about your visit. While they should never be a problem, some officers enjoy taunting tourists and it can get frustrating. Below are some suggested ways on how to easily and quickly deal with immigration officers.

Be Sober

A mistake commonly made by travellers is to drink while on board assuming their passage through immigration will be smooth and speechless. What a stressful event it becomes when an immigration officer has some suspicions about your visa or passport and you are not sober enough to answer adequately. This can easily be a reason for denied entry and you will end up having wasted a lot of money and time. So hold back on the alcohol until you are past the border to avoid trouble.

Be Humble

At a country’s border, the immigration officer is the judge who decides whether or not you get to enter the country. Whether you are a multimillionaire, a C.E.O or an experienced traveller, always be courteous and humble when interacting with the officers. Rudeness and arrogance can cost you your trip and even add unnecessary hustle to your trip.

Be Patient

Never cut lines or act as though you are the only one getting to a destination. Immigration queues can be long at the border and you just have to wait your turn. When you appear to be jumpy or to be in a rush, you might end up raising the wrong flags. This can cause you to be subjected to a secondary inspection which will only end up taking more of your time. So be cool and patient and you will soon be at your destination.

Have your Documents

Even if you do not have the above three requirements, at least have all your documents. These include a passport, a valid visa, reason for travel if needed, proof of travel insurance and vaccination cards where necessary. Most times your passport and visa will do, but you are better off carrying the documents than missing entry because of assumption and negligence.

Do not get chatty

Keep your answers short and definite when answering questions asked by immigration officers. Giving too much information may seem like a cover-up thus raising suspicion. Unless you are asked to elaborate on an answer, simply keep the answer on a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ basis.

Never lie

Lastly, never lie to an immigration officer. Lying has several consequences including remembering the lie and using other lies to cover up. If you happen to get caught lying, chances are high that your entry will be denied to that country. Sometimes this can be permanent. Therefore, answer all questions truthfully and ask for assistance when you are not sure about what to do.