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?
I am confused: “ 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.” So, you enter the US, clear passport and then go for international connection??? Shouldn’t it be a domestic connection if you are then flying within the US?
I meant international in the sense of international to domestic.
Perhaps for you but not for all. I found the orange box to be a major pain. My wife, who is a green card holder (German citizen), ALWAYS gets the orange box treatment at IAD. They don’t even do a second screening from our perspective. We sit in a room waiting for our number to be called. They ask to see her docs AGAIN (nothing the first DHS agent didn’t do) and the let us proceed. They don’t do anything special or different from the first screening but rather make us miss or nearly miss our connection.
Is this orange box a new thing? I’ve never received one.
+1 on the international arrivals at IAD! That’s definitely my preferred entry point … if I arrive on the East Coast. I have started to prefer flying directly to the West Coast (which typically means SFO on United). The one-hour connection from SFO to BUR or LAX is easy, but that five-hour flight from the East Coast to California is — to me — much more difficult and exhausting than the flight from Europe to the East Coast.
I refuse to enter the United States through ORD ever again.
“if I had anything to declare, ”
This is an invitation to be creative. So many things you can get off your chest.
These look like boxes retail stores use to protect smaller valuable items like ink cartridges. I hope the retail magnetic keys do not work on these CBP boxes.
Are those Ferragamo loafers you’re wearing Matt??
Yes! Good eye. Best shoes I’ve ever had.
What stops people from just putting the orange box in their backpack or tote bag and then cracking it open when at home to retrieve the passport?
I encountered the orange box ceremony…but was it orange? I thought mine was red. So I was given the box and told to walk all way down and around and I met another official there who took the box and asked where I would be staying. I told him. The first one at passport control asked where I worked and other regular questions. He also asked if I was ever denied a visa… I told him yes. The first time I applied for a visa, it was official, we were coming to the states for my organization’s conference. I was denied. In less than 3 weeks, I applied again and was given a visa without much ado.
Now back to official 2. He opened the box, asked for my address, and waved me to the next official at the exit. That one collected the whole paper document and asked if I had luggage I said yes. he said that way and bade me goodbye…
It was after I had gone to retrieve my luggage that it dawned on me that I forgot to ask what the problem was…
Anyway, I think that we have a right to know what the issue is when we are being tossed around. It’s no big deal… still they ought to talk and stop looking darn serious like you did something really bad