Interested in Atlanta?
We'll send you updates with the latest deals, reviews and articles for Atlanta each week.
Topics include Dining Scene, United States: For Foreign Visitors & more!
Some passengers find the customs & immigration process daunting, but ATL has clear signage and plenty of staff members to direct passengers through the process. Here's what will happen:
1) DEPLANING. You'll exit your flight at the E or F concourse, and will walk down a hall to Passport Control.
Atlanta bound passengers who arrive at E will continue down the long "sterile" hallway to go through customs and immigration at F. The hallway has moving walkways, but if the 15 minute walk is too much there are also electric carts you can ride. Connecting passengers will go through C&
I at the concourse at which you land.
2) PASSPORT CONTROL. Some passengers will be given blue declarations forms to fill out on while on the plane, but this is no longer required of most passengers. You do not have to fill out a form if you are a US or Canadian citizen or if you traveling on a Visa Waiver (ESTA) and have visited the US at least once since 2008. Instead, you will proceed to the automated kiosk to scan your passport and answer questions on the kiosk display.
If you do not fall into this category, you will need to get in the manned passport control line. This is well marked, and there are plenty of workers around to tell you where to go.
If you are a Global Entry member, follow the signs to the Global Entry kiosks on the far wall. Once you check in there, you can hold up the printed card and walk past the marked passport control booth. You do not need to stop, but do make sure they acknowledge you as you walk past.
3) BAGGAGE CLAIM. After passport control, proceed to a special smaller baggage claim area. There is a prominent display sign listing all of the arriving flights, and advising as to which carousel will contain your luggage. Pick up your luggage. There are free carts provided so that you do not have to carry it all.
4) CUSTOMS. From baggage claim, enter the customs area, where there will be customs agents posted at podiums. As you and your luggage pass through, hand the customs agent either your print-out from the kiosk or the blue customs form that was handed to you on the plane and stamped by passport control. Sometimes they'll ask you a question, but usually they just let you walk right through. (
If you are a Global Entry member, you can walk through a specially marked lane and should not have to wait in line very long.
5) BAGGAGE CHECK FOR TRAVELERS WITH CONNECTING FLIGHTS.
- For those passengers catching connecting flights: Next you will enter a baggage check room. Drop off your bags at the baggage claim carousels assigned to your flight. Overhead screens will direct you to the appropriate baggage check carousel. After dropping your bags, proceed to security.
- For those passengers for whom Atlanta is your final destination: Keep your bags with you and proceed to the exit. You do not have to go back through security. You are finished and can leave the airport. If you are taking MARTA into the city or renting a car, from Concourse F you will have to board a shuttle to reach the MARTA station and SkyTrain station at the main terminal.
6) SECURITY FOR TRAVELERS WITH CONNECTING FLIGHTS.Those with connecting flights will then proceed through security. This is as stringent as the security you'd go through when entering any airport, so be prepared to remove your belt, shoes and anything metal, remove your laptop, and have any liquids in 3oz containers in a ziplock bag. You can take your carry-on through this security check and keep it with you. (You may want to pack items that you carried on into your last flight into your checked bags if you no longer want to tote them around). Except as provided in the paragraph below, you cannot take liquids of more than 3 oz through security.
If you have Duty Free: TSA has relaxed its rules to allow bottles alcohol purchased in duty free to be brought in carry-on baggage, as long as they were purchased in Duty Free shops and placed in the secure, tamper-evident bags provided by Duty Free. The bottles are screened at the TSA checkpoint, which reserves the right to not clear them. Liquids in metallic, opaque or ceramic bottles or other containers that cannot be scanned properly will not be allowed in carry-on luggage.
7) CONNECTING FLIGHTS. After exiting security, you're free to proceed to the gate for your connecting flight. If traffic is not high, this process usually takes about 30-45 minutes (less if you didn't check bags), but it can take longer at peak times and if you are not a citizen/resident. For those arriving in Concourse E, walk through a lobby area that has currency exchange, and proceed to the escalators. If you are connecting to another flight that departs from the E Concourse, take the escalator UP to the concourse. In all other situations, take the escalator DOWN, which will take you to the train that runs under the airport. For those arriving in Concourse F, follow the signs to the Plane Train.