How to Be Prepared for Customs Search: Social Media

Social Media Border Security

The One Rule You May Have Forgot At Customs

Be Prepared to Provide Your Social Media Accounts

In June, 2016, the United States Department of Homeland Security devised a new law that foreign travelers may be required to give their social media accounts to the United State Immigration authorities. This rule is exclusive for travelers who are coming into the United State on the visa waiver program. It is intended to present the authorities with their “online presence”. This is usually only used for their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Like stated above, the required social media access is for foreign travelers visiting the United States for business or tourism during a period of 90 days or less.

The new social media rule was devised by the United States Department of Homeland Security to identity terrorist attempting to enter the United States as a tourist. BBC news reported that the new rule will be changing and/or affecting the ESTA and Form 1-94W applications. During the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) application, travelers will have the option to enter their social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+. The Department of Homeland Security claimed that they will not allow travelers to enter the country without their social media accounts. The United States issued approximately 10 million visas in 2015 while it was visited by around 77.5 million tourists. These tourists never used to have to provide their social media accounts but now it is becoming apparent that this will be a requirement.


Things Customs Will Search and Ask Travelers

Questions Customs Will Ask You

1. What is the purpose of your trip?

2. Do you have anything to declare?

3. Where will you be staying?

4. How long do you intend to stay?

5. What is y9our occupation?

Things Customs Will Search

1. Smartphone

2. Laptops

3. Luggage

4. Paperwork


The United States is not the only country to require going through travelers personal information at the airport. Israel has issued that they will be going through tourists’ email accounts in order to accept or deny entry. Most recently Canada fined one of their own citizens $24,000 Canadian Dollars and one-year jail time for refusing to unlock his phone during airport security checking. He was charged with “obstructing border officials“. He was detained since the incident after traveling to the Dominican Republic.

The Customs Act permits authorities to examine all goods and conveyances including electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops. Not providing the proper information to the authorities prevents the border services from doing their duties. Next time you intend to travel to the United State of America or Canada be prepared to provide access to all of your social media accounts to the authorities to obtain access for your travels!


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Ella Rae Bergquist

About VisaPlace Immigration News Contributor - Ella

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  • Ankur Patel

    My US student visa was revoked due some issues at Airport itself that is the officers forcefully made me to admit untruthful decision of their choice by mental torture and deported.

    So now what are my chances of Canada Students visa. Does it affect my application?

    Please help.
    Thank you.

    • Muga Rajbhandari

      Hello Ankur. A study visa is one of the most difficult to obtain because the reviewing officer needs to make 100% certain that you will return home after your studies are complete. Many people who attempt to apply on their own, face the same problem as you. I am going to suggest that you contact us to make an appointment to talk with one of our immigration professionals who will be able to plan the best strategy for you. You can book an appointment by calling us at 1-416-410-7484 or online at
      Regards, Muga

The content and comments of this blog are not legal advise and and may not be accurate or complete. If you require legal advice, contact a licensed legal practitioner directly. If you post on this blog, you assume full responsibility for disclosing your identity to the public and VisaPlace nor its affiliates are not responsible for protecting your privacy nor your identity concerning your participation in our blog and you assume any risks in participating.

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