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customs

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Melbourne, Australia
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customs

i will be travelling to tel aviv from melbourne australia this august most likely via bangkok or hon kong. i have just bought a new suit case with tsa and combination lock. this cannot be locked with a padlock there are 3 clip locks and there is no zip....does customs need to open the case while it is in transit? if they do how do they open it ? do they have a tsa key?

Tel Aviv, Israel
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1. Re: customs

Good news and bad news: I recently discovered that security (and probably customs too) in many parts of the world can easily figure out the codes of the expensive (high-class) combination-lock suitcases, but NOT of the cheaper, simpler types! It's strange, but it was demonstrated to me at Zurich airport.

If you are flying El Al, and they have a security issue with your transit luggage, they will ask you to open the luggage.

In transit, I don't think customs anywhere are interested in your suitcase's contents.

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
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2. Re: customs

Stavros my husband and I (from Melbourne also) have never had our bags opened unless we were present to open them and be present at the inspection.

I was told the TSA locks are for the USA where the procedures are different. I don't know If that is right but we haven't experienced anything different.

Edited: 6:38 am, July 20, 2013
Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: customs

thanks for the reply its a samsonite hardcase with a 3 digit combination i dont mind if they open it as long as they dont break it....my cousin has travelled to tel aviv i think at least once with el al and others and says he has had his padlock broken open...i would not mind this either but my suitcase cannot be locked with a padlock..

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
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4. Re: customs

When we were leaving Tel Aviv on one occasion my case was scanned and they picked up something on it that they thought might be a concern. I was separated from my husband and sent with the suitcase to another section be questioned and have my case opened. I unlocked the case for them, answered all their questions and they searched the part of the suitcase that had potentially got the 'problem' in it. There was no problem - it was simply a souvenir that I had bought. However that is all that happened. There was never a question that the suitcase would be opened without my knowledge, or without me being present.

I can't answer for why your cousin had a padlock broken but can only say what happened to me.

Ottawa, Canada
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for Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv
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5. Re: customs

<In transit, I don't think customs anywhere are interested in your suitcase's contents.>

This is just not true. It depends on the country but suitcases can be opened at any time from the moment of check in until pick up without the owner present. This has happened to me on several times. How did I know someone went through my bag? They left a note in the bag saying it was opened and inspected. Depending on the country, they may or may not leave a note. I rarely travel into or through the United States so my comments don't apply there but I travel frequently to Israel, Europe and the Carribean.

The general rule is that you can lock your suitcases. The customs/security screening has the right to cut off that lock to look into the suitcase, no apologies required. Your choice is to lock your suitcase and hope it doesn't raise anyone's interest and arrive as sent or accept that the lock may be cut and the contents gone through.

I have my information from someone in 'the know' on this.

Melbourne, Australia
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6. Re: customs

ok thanks. this is what I have been told, so with my case being a 3 digit combo do they know how to open this or will they break it?

Melbourne, Australia
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
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6,278 posts
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7. Re: customs

I think that is why we need travel insurance. No one can guarantee anything but take what precautions you can by thinking about what you pack, and if there is something you think might pose a problem when your suitcase is scanned then if possible put it into your hand luggage. That way it remains with you through any scanning process. Sometimes we don't know what might get picked up though. In my case the offending item was a ceramic plate with a blessing on which I had bought in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. It was in a wooden frame and they wondered if anything was between the plate and the frame. I now know not to buy that again. :)

Israel
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for Israel
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8. Re: customs

If they feel it necessary to break into your suitcase they will. Not customs, unless they pick something up enroute that is suspwcted as illegal, but rather aieport security. Best to keep all valuables with you in your carry on and checked luggage unlocked & take out travelers insurance that covers such break ins.

Chana

Israel

London, United...
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63 posts
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9. Re: customs

I have just returned from Israel to UK and flew with EL-AL ......I also flew EL-AL last year and I think you have to leave your cases unlocked now .......I was asked to do this both times and all was ok with my luggage on arrival in both Israel and London ...

Thousand Oaks...
Destination Expert
for Israel
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10. Re: customs

Just don't lock it! If there is anything that valuable which must be locked away just put it in your carry on.