I wasn’t too concerned about the differences of travelling on a green card, all I knew was that I HAD to make sure that little bit of plastic came with me, along with my passport, otherwise getting back into America would have been a right pain! This is my first experience travelling with one, please be aware that countries/airlines/airports may be slightly different!
International Travel on a USA Green Card
API (Advanced Passenger Information)
As my flights back to England were booked last minute, they involved a couple of connecting flights. They were booked through British Airways but code shared with American Airlines. My green card was required during the ‘booking’ process. I say ‘booking’ as it wasn’t actually at the point of booking, it was during that limbo time where the flight is booked, you can’t yet check in but you can log onto the airline website and enter the API. When I stated I was British but lived in the USA, I then had to enter a few of the details from the card…the USCIS number (with no dashes) and the expiry date.
Landing in the UK
I didn’t need to show my card when entering the UK. Things were a little different on this particular trip, my flight connected in Manchester (Northern England) and it was a complete airside transfer, meaning I avoided the normal stupidly long immigration lines. We passed through a security check point and as I was travelling with my American husband he was told to go over and see a lonely border guy…I was automatically told to follow him. I handed him my passport and said “I’m English, not American like him”. He asked if we were both residents in the States…we said yes, he then guessed that we were visiting my family for Christmas…we said yes. The other half got a stamp and all that jazz and my passport just got a quick glance. In the future if we fly direct, I plan to go down the EU line if I am solo or if we travel together I’ll go down the out of EU line with him.
Entering the States
America doesn’t seem to be a fan of airside connections, in Chicago (IL), Miami(FL) and now in Charlotte (NC), I’ve had to go completely out into arrivals and then either re-enter the same terminal or change to a different one and pass through security again. So connection or not, I think it’ll be a similar experience regardless. In the past few years, things have changed, USA citizens and visitors that have travelled on an ESTA before go down the same channel to use self service machines. Where passports are usually scanned, people travelling on a green card will need to scan that instead…FYI, make sure you push it right to the back of the scanner…the scanner is passport page sized…not green card sized! Finger prints and a photo was taken and a receipt was then spat out (to be handed to the customs guy when you exit). At Charlotte everyone was then still directed to a border agent. I think he was the friendliest one I’ve ever encountered! He asked where our journey started, if we were flying onto anywhere else and how long we had been in the UK for. He commented that we were still newly married but it was in more of a conversational tone rather than a questioning one. The husband was given his passport back and I was given a stamp that he then wrote my green card number next to and that was that! A fairly easy and painless experience!
So to recap: I needed the card details for the Advanced Passenger Information before flying and then I had to scan it instead of my passport when I first landed back in the USA, other than that, not much else was different!
Have you had any different experiences travelling on a Green Card?