Just as departures, arrivals might seem a long and tedious process to most of the passengers arriving daily at San Francisco International Airport. They will be asked to go through security scanning one more time. Additionally, passport control and immigration status will be checked by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents. It is important to wait in your appropriate line designated for US citizens or international visitors. US Citizens’ line also accepts Canadians and permanent residents (US Green Card holders).
Customs and Border Control
Passengers will be asked for customs declaration together with the passport to approve your immigration status once again. It is important to collaborate with CBP officers and answer their questions truthfully and honestly; otherwise, your entry to the United States might be denied.
Depending on the number of flights that arrive simultaneously with your flight, security screening and immigration control might take anywhere between 1-3 hours. After passengers have gone through all that, you will be led to a baggage claim area, in case you checked your baggage.
For US citizens or special visa holders, immigration control can be a lot quicker going through automated passport control machines provided in the same area as regular passport control.
Mobile Passport Control
SFO is also one of those few airports in the United States that offers mobile passport control express lanes, which can markedly expedite your entry process. All passengers have to do is to download mobile from the app store and set up a profile with personal data. These include passport information and customs declaration form. After following all steps necessary, passengers received a bar-coded receipt, which can be placed at the barcode scanner in the arrivals area while presenting your passport to the CBP officer.
For security reasons, passengers arriving at San Francisco International airport cannot be met at the gates. There are several designated meeting points for each terminal, which is important to know if you have a person waiting for your arrival. Additionally, vehicle drivers are not allowed to park and wait at the curb but are advised to park at Cell Phone Waiting Lot. They might also choose to circle the terminals.
Meeting points for terminal 1 are located at the B and C Gates. There are seating areas located between the gates B1-B27 and C1-C11. Passengers arriving at Terminal 2 D gates may be met at the Departure-ticketing level. There is a special area signed “Meeting point” near the exits of D gates.
There is a “Meeting point” area for passengers arriving at the gates of E and F of Terminal 3, located on arrivals/baggage claim level.
4thterminal, also called the International Terminal, dedicated solely for international flights, has several meeting points for passengers. There is US Customs and Immigration exit located on Arrivals Level Lobby with a signed “meeting point” in the lobby area.
Each of these meeting points mentioned above will have an Arrivals Board with the flight status and arrival time. For those waiting at the meeting points to collect, passengers are also advised to check the SFO website for additional information.