Passport Control can be a pretty strange experience, but everyone visiting a foreign country will go through it. You walk up to the booth, answer a few questions, and get your passport stamped.
But some countries can ask more questions than others — particularly countries who are strict about their tourist policies, like the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Visitors coming to the border of these countries might find themselves being asked some questions that make them take a step back and go, "huh?"
There's always a reason for the questions being asked though, even if they seem totally bizarre to you.
10 "What Do You Do For Work?"
When visiting the USA, the UK, or any other country on a tourist visa, the general rule is that you aren't allowed to work under that visa. Therefore, by asking what you do back home, the border control officer is ensuring that you aren't entering their country to illegally work. It seems like an odd question and you might be tempted to tell them it's none of their business, but you'll become so much less of a threat if you have a job back home and aren't actively looking for one now.
9 "How Did You Get The Time Off Work?"
They also might ask how you got the time off work, to ensure you haven't quit to come and find another job.
This one is particularly common in the USA, who have limited time off work throughout the year and often don't understand how someone can take a three-week vacation in Florida without being fired.
8 "How Much Money Is In Your Bank?"
This is one of the more invasive questions, and maybe the one that will most tempt you to tell the person asking that it's none of their business. Don't, though — just answer the question. They're checking you have enough money to visit, and this question is more common on long stays. Someone coming into their country for three months might run out of money after four weeks and be tempted to get an under the table, cash in hand job. It's always advisable to make sure you have money to last you for the trip, so you can satisfy the border control officer.
7 "Are You Married? Do You Have Kids?"
This one may seem like friendly chit-chat, but it's not, really. The officer is essentially asking if you have a life back home. Someone who has a spouse, kids, or anything else they love in their home country is more unlikely to up and abandon it all on an illegal immigration whim than someone who doesn't have much to stay for in their home country anyway.
6 "When Was The Last Time You Were Here?"
Something that's a big no-no is spending too much time in a country.
Take the UK, for example. An American citizen can legally spend up to six months in the UK at a time — there's no law against that, or multiple trips. But there is a vague law against living there, and someone who spends six months a year in the United Kingdom is going to start drawing a lot of extra questions than someone who spends two weeks.
There's no point in lying either — they can see your last trip on the computer, they're just verifying.
5 "Do You Rent Or Own A Home?"
Who owns a home in this economy? Renting might be more common among young people especially, but you're seen as more of a risk if you rent, because someone is unlikely to abandon a full property back home.
4 "Can I See Your Return Flight?"
You should always, always, carry a printed version of your return flight. Everything may be done electronically these days, but border control officers often ask to see the return flight to check you're going home and phones often aren't allowed in that area. This is one of the most common questions you can be asked at border control, despite how weird it may seem, so always be prepared or you're going to raise a red flag if you don't even have a return flight.
At best, have an onward flight out of the country.
3 "How Many People Do You Know Here?"
If your entire family is in the country you're visiting, your spouse, all of your friends, your beloved pet cat, and you have a one-way flight... you better have an immigrant visa in hand or border control are going to be very suspicious. They will often ask about your connections in the country you're visiting as well as your connections back home.
2 "Are You Staying In A Hotel Or A Home?"
It's worth being careful about this one. Being in a hotel implies a temporary, short visit; staying in a home can raise other red flags. It often won't, but if you're already gaining some suspicion as you answer questions and the address you've put down as your destination is a residential address, be prepared for that to draw some extra questions.
If you're staying in a hotel or an Airbnb, it might be worth having that confirmation printed out alongside your flights. Stuff like this will help to satisfy the officer that you're a bona fide temporary visitor and don't intend on staying forever against all the immigration laws.
1 "Do You Like Visiting This Country?"
It's a double-edged sword. You don't want to sound like you hate visiting their country, but you don't want to sound like you love it too much either and would be tempted to stay. It's another question that may sound like harmless chit-chat... but nothing is here.
All in all, passport control can essentially ask you whatever they like and you kind of have to answer if you want to enter the country. Ninety-nine percent of the time, the questions will be straight forward, but if these start to get asked then just be prepared with your answers to ensure a smooth trip!