We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Customs at JFK- how long?

Providence RI
Level Contributor
169 posts
5 reviews
Save Topic
Customs at JFK- how long?

We'll pick someone up at JFK. US citizen. If the flight is scheduled to come in shortly before 5pm on Sunday, how long could Customs take? When can we expect to actually see our passenger? We never had too much wait at other airports, seemed like maybe 30-40 minutes. But I hear JFK is long. ? Thanks

Leeds, UK
Level Contributor
307 posts
71 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

I've only arrived at JFK once flying domestic and that was into T5, Jet Blues terminal. We arrived at tea time and there was no customs to speak of and from getting off the plane to walking out front of terminal was no more than 20 minutes. Don't know if that's any different with the other terminals though.

London, United...
Level Contributor
27,178 posts
29 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

I predict it will take your pax 37 mins exactly, based on what my crystal ball is telling me with regards to how many agents will be on duty that day and how many pax will be ahead of yours in the queue.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
2,308 posts
175 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

Customs takes seconds - Immigration, on the other hand could be anything from 15 minutes to 2 hours

Romford, United...
Level Contributor
2,065 posts
22 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

If the flight into JFK is an International flight that has been pre-cleared then there should be no delay and all the passenger has to do is pick up luggage and leave the airport as there should be no further checks otherwise anything up to 3 hrs is possible

Fortaleza, CE
Level Contributor
9,183 posts
376 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

Customs takes seconds IF there's no line AND they just ask you to hand over the form you filled out on board your flight and had initialed by Immigration. If, however, you get pulled aside for a secondary inspection, even at random, it will take longer. The more international flights landing at the same time at the same terminal, the more congestion at Immigration. Hopefully also more agents on duty.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
61,199 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

If your passenger will have a phone that works in the USA then you can wait in the cell phone lot and have them call you when they are through with immigration/customs:

panynj.gov/airports/jfk-cell-phone-lot.html

New York City, New...
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
9,190 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

You know there are multiple terminals at JFK that handle international flights, right?

To suggest a set time for clearance of immigration is impossible.

Providence RI
Level Contributor
169 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

Sorry, it's Term 4. Alitalia. I know this is an odd question, but had read the back-ups are ridiculous. Our experience with Boston has been 'easy in,' the plane arriving a bit early and baggage pick-up very quick. Thanks to all.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
Level Contributor
61,199 posts
67 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

Terminal 4 is Delta's new terminal. Alitalia is in Terminal 1. Since they are partners it is possible your people are on a code share with Delta.

I have arrived at Terminal 4 from Europe when there were soooo many flights that you couldn't even walk to immigration as the hallway was too crowded!

It can take quite a long time if that happens. There's no way to predict this unless you look up flight schedules to see how many international flights are arriving at the same time.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
51,908 posts
147 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Customs at JFK- how long?

Hard to predict as mentioned. I have come in and cleared everything in 20 minutes, then my friend took two hours on the very same flight the next day. Find a way to contact each other (phone call, text, etc) if possible.