International Airport Arrival Guide for First-Time Travelers


So you’ve successfully found out everything you need to know to make your first international flight departure easy and stress-free. Now you’re probably wondering what’s gonna happen when you are arriving on an international flight. Let me discuss.

If you’re arriving on a domestic flight, refer to this post for guidelines. If you wonder how it feels like travelling on a plane for the first time, check out this post.

Visitors arriving from overseas have six points to remember when arriving at any international airports. Depending on what goods you are carrying or the place you are flying from, some steps may be skipped. Please look at the photo below.

After a complete taxing, the cabin doors will be opened and you’ll be allowed to get off the plane. You can follow the greater crowd to see where they are heading. Chances are, a lot of the passengers have been adept in flying in and out of the country you’re visiting. You may follow them. That is not to say know nothing about the procedure. So again, here are the six general arrival procedures at any international airports:

1. Quarantine

During the flight, some forms may be distributed by the cabin crews. If a medical questionnaire is handed to you, fill in all the required field and submit the form to the quarantine counter. If you don’t know where the quarantine counter is, ask an airport personnel. It also pays to observe where the other passengers are going. If no “medical/health form” is given, skip this step and proceed to the Immigration clearance.

2. Immigration

Upon your arrival at any airport, follow the “Arrivals” signs to the Arrival Immigration Halls for immigration clearance. In this part of the airport, no photographing is allowed. Before lining up, make sure you’ve completed filling out the “arrival card” or “disembarkation card”. Again, you may ask an airport personnel where you can get it or observe where the other passengers are getting it from.

  • [message]
    • The information you need to fill out in the arrival/disembarkation card:
      • Full name and nationality

        Date of birth

        Passport number, place of issuance and expiration date

        Flight number or name of aircraft, ship or vehicle

        Purpose of trip: vacation, education/study, visiting relatives/families, business, diplomatic

        Duration of stay

        Destination (next stop of disembarkation)

        Address in the country (you can just put here the name of your hotel)

        Information on items being bought into the country which may be of interest to customs and quarantine authorities (if you don’t have it, just leave it blank, also in some cases, the customs declaration card is a separate form)

        Travellers are generally required to sign, date, and declare the information is true, correct, and complete.

Have your travel documents ready – Valid Passport and/or Permits / Entry Visa (if applicable) – then proceed to the applicable counter. You will see, permanent resident or foreign visitors/passport holders. Line up at the lane marked Foreign Passports/Foreign Visitors. When it’s your turn for the immigration clearance, remove your passport from its cover and present it to the immigration officer together with your arrival/ disembarkation card.

The arrival card is usually distributed in flight. Look at the arrival card from Bangkok Airport below. All passengers must complete this card. Remember that the left part (departure card) will be presented to the immigration officer at the time of your departure (so don’t lose it).

Thailand Arrival Card

You may be asked some questions regarding the details of your travel (why you are travelling, where you are staying, when are you travelling back to your country, etc.), just politely answer the questions. You may also be asked to stand in front of a camera to have your photo taken as well as to place your right-hand and/or left-hand index finger on a reader and hold for two seconds for biometric scanning.

Once you are cleared, the immigration officer will stamp your passport and hand it back to you. Next, proceed to the baggage claims.

3. Baggage Claims

If you have a check-in baggage, you may retrieve it at the baggage claim area. I call this the sushi bar. LOL You will see conveyor belts or the baggage carousels in this area. Look at the information display on the screens/monitors by the baggage carousel and confirm your airline and flight number. If your baggage does not show up, or your baggage is damaged, show your baggage claim tag to airline staff and ask for assistance.

4. Plant and Animal Quarantine

Depending on your country and region of origin, an import inspection following baggage retrieval may be required if you are bringing meat, fruit, animals, or plants into a specific country. Japan has this procedure. “Animal and Plant Quarantine Passengers bringing animals (or meat) or plants (including fruit) into Japan must submit them to an import inspection at the Animal and Plant Quarantine Counter after they have retrieved their baggage” (Narita Airport Website). Otherwise, just go straight to the Customs Hall.

5. Customs Inspection

After retrieving your baggage, proceed to the customs inspection. If you have goods to declare, fill out a form and pay corresponding taxes. You may check the corresponding law of the country you are visiting regarding this. Otherwise, get past the custom kiosk and proceed to the arrival lobby.

6. Arrival Lobby

At the arrival lobby, you may obtain maps or brochures to help you in your travel. Look at the information display to know more about your preferred means of transportation. Don’t hesitate to ask/ seek assistance from the airport information desk/ staff.

Hope my post helps! If you still have some questions, you can always message me! Happy travels!

Related Posts
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *