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Do I have to go through customs?

I am flying from my city to Miami to S. America and back (through Miami). When will I have to go through Customs? How long will it take. I have a few connecting flights I am afraid to miss.

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Minimum is 1 hour to get through Customs, claim your suitcase -- which you have to do upon the first American city you arrive at. From there on the airlines should route your baggage. Overseas flights can vary from the original schedule by up to 45 minutes to 4 hours before committing takeoff. Usually, they try to make up for some of the lost time inflight. But, anything less than 1 hour time is impossible thru Customs and connect on the next flight.

You will have to go through Customs when you enter S. America & at the end of your journey when you come back into the it should not interfere with any of your connecting flights.

You'll only have to go through customs when you're on you land at your final destination and leave the airport. You will not have to go through customs if you are catching a connecting flight.

I assume that you are in the US and therefore starting from there, although it's not clear.

I can tell you that on a trip I did from Mexico-Miami-New York-London a few years ago, I had to clear customs in Miami (you collect your bag, go through customs checks and then re-check you bag in). It was the worst experience that I have ever had in an airport (no other country in the world makes transit passengers go through passport control / customs) and I nearly missed my connecting flight as it took so long. I have refused to EVER transit through the US ever again as a result. You may not fare so badly as I assume you have a US passport and the passport control was where the biggest hold-up occurred, however I do recall that it wasn't clear as to where to re-check bags.

On my outbound journey, I stopped in New York for a weekend first, so my flight was JFK-Miami-Cancun. I don't recall there being any delays or problems and I believe that my bag was checked all the way to Cancun.

You will go through customs & passport control when you arrive at your S American destination and you will go through US passport control & customs when you arrive back in Miami.

There will be security checks at each point.

I hope you have at least an hour between flights in Miami, particularly when you come back in to the US.

OK, you are going to South America. Then when you return, you will most likely have to go through customs in the first city the belongs to the United States. This being Miami in your case. They do this because they don't want you do just leave.

Only if you declare over 20 kilos of cocaine

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