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In your experience, which country's airport immigration offices have been the rudest or most difficult to deal with?

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Japan.

I understand that there will always be Japan haters on this site, but I seriously wonder how someone could think that Japan has the rudest immigration officers. Have you never been to any other countries?

China.

The person I dealt with didn't even say "Hello", didn't even look at me, just took my passport, stamped it, and said "Next !".

That's standard fare in Chinese immigration. It's a stark contrast to the professional stance taken by immigration in Japan. That all said, I have never found Chinese immigration particularly rude, just not particularly professional. Last time I went, the girl spent the whole time chatting with the girl beside her, barely even looked at me.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Traditionally America, but that said I’ve been twice already this year and there was a noticeable difference in attitude, in a good way. I don’t know if I just got lucky or if they are training them differently now.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I’ve found pretty much all immigration staff stern. I wasn’t expecting cheesy grins.

Didn’t have any real problems getting through in any countries I’ve visited although I have been hit hit with a few questions at Beijing, Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow. No real drama.

I do remember one immigration officer at Dallas hitting my Japanese coworker with questions at rapid speed in heavily accented English, leaving my coworker a bit flustered. Hard to say if the officer was being a bit nasty or just didn’t have any common sense.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Hard to say if the officer was being a bit nasty or just didn’t have any common sense.

A lot of the people in the world (most?) have no idea whatsoever how to lower the level of their language for people who don't speak English so well yet. My dad is one - even after 20 years of marriage to my wife, my dad still uses words, that sometimes even I don't understand, when talking to her.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

America, unfortunately, overall. I think I've had ONLY negative experiences at Incheon airport (in Seoul) immigration, but I've only been there a few times. I've been to a few dozen countries and sadly my home country has the rudest. Sorry America, I love you and usually we're the warmest people in the anglophone world but somehow the most horrible people work at our airports lol.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

So give some examples. How exactly have they been rude to you?

I simply express surprise, as in the 80-100 times I've been through immigration in Japan, they've never been rude to me once. And yet you are claiming they are the rudest in the world - why is it we are seeing such extremely opposites?

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Easily the US. Japanese airport immigration officers always impress me with how polite they manage to be while still working efficiently. It takes me less time to pass through Japanese immigration as an immigrant resident than it takes to go through US immigration as a citizen, and with far less obnoxious barking to boot.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I've seen Asians in front of me at Immigration plenty of times, and the officers didn't act any different to them than they did to me.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

USA and I’m a US citizen.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

By far the rudest ones I've witnessed were American, although I have also had many positive experiences there.

I've had one who after stamping my passport, returned it to me by tossing it on the counter. I wonder how he would have reacted if I had tossed my passport at him in the same manner.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I’m American and I’d say America is the worst by far.

A few years ago, an immigration officer monitoring the US citizens line at Kennedy, screamed at us to get off the line because my two small sons have US AND Japanese passports. I pointed out that they are US citizens but she just became more incensed. Then after waiting forever on the foreign visitors line, when we finally got to the immigration officer, I gave him our passports and he immediately asked why we hadn’t waited in the US passport holders line. When I explained, he responded with a chuckle, “They don’t hire the best and the brightest here.”

Last month, I went through Minneapolis with family and getting off the plane I could see groups of Japanese kids, obviously on a school trip, nervously doing a last minute rehearsal of the English they had been studying for going through immigration and customs.

The group of kids was in front of us in line and I could see they were handling the expected questions from the officer ok, but then, because the line was long, another officer was added and this guy obviously had a huge power-mad chip on his shoulder. When the young kid said he was visiting St. Cloud “for sightseeing” this demented guardian of the galaxy, in an unnecessarily loud voice accused him of lying - saying “no one visits St. Cloud for sightseeing! WHY are you visiting St. Cloud?!!!”

The he poor kid could only repeat what he learned - “for sightseeing” and the loud power display by the officer continued until, finally, one of the other officers explained that he was part of group on a school trip. The kid was crying by then.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

America was my worst experience, closely followed by China. An official ran over my feet on a Segway in Shanghai last year, then stopped to berate me for two minutes. Then they stole my powerbank at security.

At least American airports are clean though, Chinese airports and planes are like middens.

I've always found Japanese officials to be extremely patient and friendly despite dealing with hordes of stupid passengers.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

'Merica.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Saudi Arabia.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The USA. I don't expect them to treat me like royalty, but basic manners were non-existent.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

China.

The person I dealt with didn't even say "Hello", didn't even look at me, just took my passport, stamped it, and said "Next !".

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If you’re black African (vs black American), France.

I’ve had rude US immigration agents and professional friendly ones - it all depends on the training/personality. In contrast, Japanese immigration seems, like many things in Japan, professional and efficient, yet souless (or personality-free).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Katsu78

No, no need for a personality at immigration but sometimes being able to have a quick chat - Off The Script - with the immigration officer makes the procedure less of a drudge. Not saying Japanese immigration officials have to have a personality, mind you, just pointing out a difference.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japan has by far been the most polite and quickest immigration experience. Very efficient, no drama.

australia is the worst in my opinion.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I've never had trouble with any of the handful of countries I've visited. But I'm also interested to know what some people consider rude or difficult. If I get through the experience quickly, I consider it a win. I don't ever expect a conversation or even a smile. If the officer is friendly, it's a bonus, but not a necessity as long as they are being professional.

For people commenting that are US citizens and think US Immigration is the worst, if you travel internationally more than once in five years, and you haven't signed up for Global Entry, you really need to look into it. You'll never have to deal with them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@haaa nemui

That's the thing. People need to realize that it's not their job to be friendly, it's their job to get you into their country. Sure, if they're friendly that's great. If they just look at me, ask me a couple questions and hand my passport back to me, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. People need to curb their unrealistic expectations, it's not immigration's job to calm people after a long flight.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Strangerland it depends on what you look like. I'm guessing SE Asians and dark people have very different reactions from immigration officers to those from western countries. Same thing probably happens everywhere I'd assume.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

We’re the warmest people in the anglophone world

Certainly up there, but in my experience the lack of warmth at the airport is a continuation of the attitude of flight attendants on US airlines.

I honestly couldn’t care less about the attitude of the immigration staff as long as I can get through sharpish, but a bit more warmth on the flight itself wouldn’t go amiss. I did pay for that ticket.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese have been the best from my experience. Haven't experienced American immigration and judging by the number of people here saying so I probably don't want to. My only bad experiences have been in Australia... only time I've ever had to open my bags up was in Australia and going through a security check into Sydney... only a transit stop... my carry on luggage set off the alarm. That was an instant change in attitude from "lets talk amongst ourselves and ignore the passengers" to "time to make life difficult for someone." After a thorough bag search, twice, they just gave me grumbles and let me through. Sheesh... just smile sometimes. Granted that's customs and not immigration but I tend to lump them all into the same category.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The U.S. They are more brusque to my (non-U.S. citizen) Japanese husband than Japanese officials are to me (a non-Japanese citizen).

It goes for most customer service in the U.S. but you'll get a cheerful, helpful attitude if that individual person's personality and MOOD happen to be cheerful and helpful that day. Most often you'll probably get grunts or glares only. If that makes the line move faster, I don't mind, but it is a far cry from Japanese standards of using full sentences and not letting their individual mood interfere.

The weirdest experience was in the U.S., the officer looked at me and said "You look like Heidi." I was in a zombie-like state from 24hrs of travel and just stared blankly so he continued "you know, like from the Alps." it was still not computing with me so I said nothing and he just gave up and said "well here's your passport"

I had never before nor since been told I look like Heidi from the Alps. It wasn't rude but just bizarre!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Apart from when I was a kid and eveything was new and exciting, I'd have to nominate the US airports.

Once you get past the unpleasant folk in uniform, people are more friendly. Shop staff in the US are up there with Japan for friendliness and being helpful.

Heathrow varies. Sometimes rude as hell, sometimes friendly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

US. Complex, troublesome though not always rude - a really helpful patient person in Guam who had dealt with a hundred or so Japanese people off the plane before me just trying to go through transit.

In Istanbul, was charged twice as much for the visa at the airport than was advised by the embassy and on the plane. seemed like a rort, but at least they were polite about it.

Still can't understand why people need to enter US then leave again in the space of a few minutes just to go through transit (or pay beforehand for that arrangement by which they just let you through). But then they still insist on inches, gallons and pounds there while almost all of the rest of the world have moved on.

Now watch me be voted down.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If I may go back almost 40 years and change “airport” to “seaport”, I’d say the Soviet Union’s immigration officers at Nakhodka were the worst. Three uniformed officers took me into a back room where I had to remove my belt and boots for close examination - my bag was emptied and searched separately out of sight - and was asked a dozen times if I had “religious literature” (No) and what my business was in the USSR (Tourism) though the visa application with this statement took 3 months to process! A bit unnerving.

Should I cancel my holiday plans for Pyongyang?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Kansas. An immigration officer told me to go forth and multiply when I asked where I could find a toilet.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"When the young kid said he was visiting St. Cloud “for sightseeing” this demented guardian of the galaxy, in an unnecessarily loud voice accused him of lying - saying “no one visits St. Cloud for sightseeing! WHY are you visiting St. Cloud?!!!”

Ridiculous! Why, St. Cloud has Quarry Park, a unique public park that features 20 granite quarries! That alone warrants sightseeing!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nepal

Their attitude towards their own citizens is very rude and harsh. The airport and the staff are the worst in the world. They are nice to foreigners (for cash) but never good to their own people coming from abroad. No wonder it is one of the poorest country on Earth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The least pleasant experience that comes to my mind was in Honolulu, Hawaii of all places. It was just one female immigration officer who had a bad attitude. Another reminder to me that visiting Hawaii for a few days and living there indefinitely (in particular as a non-rich person) are two very different things.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only had two difficult experiences so far, one while transiting through the GDR from Hamburg to West Berlin in 1982, the other at London Heathrowback in the early 90s. While the issue with the GDR officials was solved quickly by giving me a temporary passport (setting me back 10 DM) I was held up for several hours at Heathrow. Double bag-search, testing "unknown substance" (a small salt shaker which surprisingly contained salt), rub-down body search, questioning why I did not go for the exit straight away but spent time "looking around"... When I was released my hotel reservation was gone and I had to look for cheap accomodation around Paddington late at night. I would have preferred to start my London holidays less stressful.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

People need to realize that it's not their job to be friendly

Sure it is. 99.9999999% (give or take) of people coming through are doing so without any ill will or doing anything wrong. These people are the first window into the country that the person is going to. If they alienate the people coming in, those people are going to talk, and give the country a bad reputation.

They don't have to be your best friend, but being friendly is good hospitality.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Definitely USA! So many private information you have to give, from a device to scan the passport+ fingers print at immigration desk, at customs they find someone in the line to open the bags, at the security very long lines and no service clerks for information Japan has...and something else I can't remember.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Obviously, nobody here has ever been to Nigeria.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

borschtToday  09:15 am JST

In contrast, Japanese immigration seems, like many things in Japan, professional and efficient, yet souless (or personality-free).

Is there a need for airport immigration officers to express their personality through their work?

When I go to another country, I don't think, "Gee, I hope I'll meet an interesting immigration officer!" I want to get through immigration as quickly as possible so that I can interact with people on the real trip I planned. I think most travelers don't mind waiting in line 20-30 minutes for a really good restaurant or amusement park or club or tickets to see a show, but waiting that long just to get through the airport because the immigration officers aren't acting like professionals is much less appealing.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I don't consider not smiling or conversing with me during the process to be rude. They've got an important job to do and a lot of you forget that their job is not just to get you through their line, but also to look out for people who shouldn't be entering the country.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Vancouver, Canada. My wife is terrified of them, and cites them as one reason she doesn't like going to Canada these days.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@extanker - not smiling isn't really rude and you're right, passengers need to understand they have a job to do. But at the same time, sometimes the officials come across as very standoffish or confrontational and if they didn't then maybe their job might go a little bit smoother as well. A lot of passengers come off long flights and are very tired or aren't used to traveling and are already in a situation where their nerves are a little bit frayed... and being in that situation where someone lacks a little patience can elevate the stress levels. Just saying they don't need to smile but maybe if they were a little friendlier then things might go better for everyone.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@extanker -

People need to curb their unrealistic expectations, it's not immigration's job to calm people after a long flight.

No it's not, but it is their job to identify people who act suspiciously for whatever reason and question appropriately. Some people come off a flight feeling nervous and will look suspicious even though there is no malicious or illegal intent. An inflamed situation is only going to make it worse for both the passenger and the official and the job won't be completed as quickly as it should be. If the official can't keep those people calm then they aren't really very good at their job. Some passengers are their own worst enemies though. There is nothing unrealistic about it.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I know it's not going to happen but I'd also love to see the reversal of this question. Asking immigration officials which country's passengers are the most difficult to deal with.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Japan.

I agree.

I understand that there will always be Japan haters on this site, but I seriously wonder how someone could think that Japan has the rudest immigration officers. Have you never been to any other countries?

I am not a Japan hater (whatever that is) and have visited 10 countries (many on several occasions) and resided in 4 countries.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Japan.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

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