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What Is a Port of Entry?

A port of entry is a designated location where travelers and goods may legally enter a country. These hubs, often bustling with activity, include airports, seaports, and land border crossings. Intrigued? Discover how these gateways manage the flow of international arrivals. Keep reading.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A port of entry is a location designated as an authorized entry point somewhere along the borders of a country. These types of entry points may be airports, docks along the shoreline adjoining an ocean or other body of water, or roadways that cross the border between two nations. Typically, countries utilize some system of border control that aids in managing the entry of people into the nation, making sure that no illegal items are admitted and that each person attempting to cross the border has sufficient documents to establish identity and prove that he or she can legally enter that country.

The process for designating and managing a port of entry varies from one country to another. Typically, specific locations are designated based on the availability of resources to effectively manage the port, as well as the likelihood that international visitors will choose to enter the country at specific points. This means that even though a nation may have multiple waterways, airports, and highways that could be the destination of international visitors, only specifically selected locations will receive the designation of a port of entry. When this is the case, travelers will often be routed through an official point of entry first, then allowed to continue the journey to their intended destination.

A passport is typically be required to pass through a port of entry.
A passport is typically be required to pass through a port of entry.

The management of a port of entry is sometimes considered the province of one or more arms of the nation’s military force. Entry and exit into the nation is overseen by a military border control and visitors must present passports and other essential documents to those personnel before being allowed to enter the country. The procedures followed by the assigned military personnel must follow the regulations and laws currently in place regarding the process of allow internationals to enter the borders of the nation. It is not unusual for nations sharing borders to develop policies and procedures that are very similar in nature, a strategy that makes it possible for the citizens of those adjoining nations to travel between the countries with relative ease.

International airports are considered points of entry into a nation.
International airports are considered points of entry into a nation.

A port of entry may also be managed by a specific department or division within a national government, such as an immigration or customs department. The process is very similar to that used by military personnel to manage the borders of the nation. Typically, immigration officers have the same powers and authority as law enforcement officials when it comes to dealing with attempts to enter a country illegally, or to transport contraband or illegal goods through the border checkpoints. Those powers include the ability to detain individuals who arouse suspicion, refuse entry into the country, and in some cases place individuals into custody until further information that clarifies the identity and intentions of the detainees is obtained.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Learn more...

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    • A passport is typically be required to pass through a port of entry.
      By: Popova Olga
      A passport is typically be required to pass through a port of entry.
    • International airports are considered points of entry into a nation.
      By: Shutterbas
      International airports are considered points of entry into a nation.
    • At their point of entry, international air passengers go through passport control, which is also referred to as border control.
      By: Franz Pfluegl
      At their point of entry, international air passengers go through passport control, which is also referred to as border control.