On January 4th, 2018, the United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) announced that it updated its guidance on how it will conduct border searches of electronic devices. The directive defines electronic devices as “any device that may contain information in an electronic or digital form, such as computers, tablets, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, camera, music and other media players.”
CBP’s new guidance clarified that it may search electronic devices for information stored on the device, for either inbound or outbound border inspection. CBP confirmed that the search will only include examination of the information that is “resident on the device and accessible through the devices’s operating system or through other software, tools, or application.” CBP further confirmed that it will not search information that is stored remotely or not “otherwise present on the device.” CBP needs “reasonable suspicion” or a legitimate “national security concern” to review or analyze in more detail the contents of a device, which must be approved by supervisor review. CBP further clarified that travelers are “obligated” to present electronic devices for inspection, which means that travelers will need to unlock passcodes or encrypted devices for CBP review. If a traveler refuses to unlock the device, CBP may detain the device for up to five days.
If you have any questions on how this new CBP directive impacts your international travel, please contact SPS Immigration.