As you walk through passport control and customs at Washington Dulles International Airport, you will see signs concerning an orange box. I experienced this orange box during my last trip through IAD.
Why DHS Uses An Orange Box At Washington Dulles
The Dulles midfield concourse is my favorite place to enter the United States. Lines are typically short and after clearing passport control, you can simply take a short walk to security, re-clear, and take an escalator upstairs to the gate area. It makes international connections extremely easy.
But with that ease of connection comes one problem for U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials. What to do when a passenger requires secondary screening? How DHS handles this issue depends upon the airport.
On a recent trip, a DHS officer in New York got up from his cubicle and escorted us to secondary. But that’s time-consuming and inefficient.
At IAD, if you are sent to secondary screening, your passport, arrival form, and a note explaining the discrepancy, is placed in a secure orange plastic box. The locking mechanism did not look too complicated, but can only be opened by DHS officials.
Thus, the orange box ensures you do not just avoid secondary screening since it is adjacent to the security checkpoint to go back upstairs. DHS has stopped collecting arrival slips after baggage claim at many airports. Instead, the immigration officer you first encounter holds onto your paperwork and no further interaction with U.S. officials is necessary once you collect your luggage.
I have two passports and entered the wrong information when I checked into my flight. Although Global Entry worked without a hitch, the discrepancy came up when a border officer verified my passport. Thus, I was sent to secondary without further explanation.
Interestingly, when I reached secondary, an officer opened the orange box, took out my passport, looked at it, handed it back to me, asked me if I had anything to declare, and when I said “no” wished me a good day.
A couple of you asked about the orange box in a recent trip report. Now you have the answer. It’s not big deal. The orange box simply ensures you go to secondary screening.
Have you seen this box at any other U.S. airports?