A Newcomer’s Guide to Miami International Airport Arrivals

Miami International Airport
It can be confusing when you’re flying into Miami International Airport (MIA) for the first time, especially if it’s your first time visiting the city of Miami in general. Don’t worry—you won’t get lost! After all, the airport is one of the country’s largest and busiest, with more than 40 million passengers flying through each year on 200-plus daily flights to over 70 different destinations worldwide.  

Coming from outside of the U.S.

Photo by Matt Moloney on StockSnap When you arrive at MIA, follow signage for Departures or Ticketing/Check-In. You can usually find these areas by following signs for domestic or international flights. Once you get into a terminal, you will likely see uniformed personnel greeting guests and directing traffic; ask these greeters where to go if you’re having trouble finding your way.  

What Customs Agents Can – and Can’t – Do

Agents in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have broad authority when it comes to searching people, vehicles, and packages. However, CBP agents cannot generally enter a home without a warrant. If they do so in your absence, they must leave you a notice explaining what was taken from where and why it was taken. For any permanent confiscation of property – for example, if CBP finds drugs in your luggage – you will get a formal receipt at that time. If there is an agency involved beyond customs or border protection – such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – agents may need warrants issued by those agencies before searching homes or persons. Remember that nothing prevents officers from asking questions without permission.  

Finding Your Way Through MIA

If you’re traveling through MIA for a holiday or business trip, you’ll likely be feeling very excited. But before getting too excited about exploring Miami and South Florida, make sure you know your way around MIA. The airport is divided into zones and floors, so it’s helpful to know what zone your airline is departing from and your terminal number so that you can quickly find your gate. And if you happen to get lost?  

How Long It Takes to Get Through Customs

There are a lot of different factors that go into how long it takes to get through customs: your flight, whether or not you’re traveling alone or with family, if other flights are arriving around yours, and where you’re coming from. It’s best not to schedule a tight connection in case your flight is delayed or has any hold-ups; once you pass through immigration, it can take 10 minutes just to get out of customs! If you want to avoid spending time in these lines at MIA, arrive early.  

How Will I Know Which Carousel My Luggage Is On?

Here’s a useful tip when you arrive at MIA: find out where your luggage will be arriving. The best way to do that is by checking your airline’s baggage claim website or app (you know, before you leave home). You can also use MIA’s service located at carousel 1, although it may have limited hours and access may be restricted if security hasn’t opened yet. When that service isn’t available, here are some other ways you can find out which carousel your luggage will be on  

When Can I Leave?

When you land at MIA, you’ll probably be hungry for a taste of home. If you’re ready to leave your international airport arrivals to get a taste of Miamian cuisine, it’s not hard to find affordable food options near MIA. However, keep in mind that restaurants catering to airport visitors often have higher prices and smaller portions compared with area eateries that are patronized by locals regularly. So while you might want a slice of pizza or bagel after your long flight, opt for something with fresher ingredients and bigger servings before walking around MIA. Most restaurants near MIA will offer free shuttle services back and forth from your terminal after providing pickup and drop-off services when you first arrive.  

Taxi Service at MIA

If you don’t feel like driving into town, taxi cabs are an affordable option. Cabs are available at each terminal. The approximate cost for a cab ride is $30–$35 from MIA to South Beach and approximately $35–$40 from MIA to Coconut Grove or Brickell. Taxis can be found in front of each terminal at Ground Transportation, look for a line of yellow taxis near doors 1B and 2C.  

Transportation From MIA (Including Buses)

Getting from MIA to downtown Miami or South Beach by bus is easy and affordable. The Metrobus costs just $2.25 per trip and takes about 30 minutes. There are also express buses that make fewer stops that charge $4 per trip, but these can get pretty cramped during rush hour and don’t run on Sundays or holidays.  

Parking at MIA

Once you’ve cleared customs, head towards Ground Transportation and pick up a taxi or shuttle. Many visitors choose to rent a car in Miami, but parking can be complicated and expensive. Before leaving for your trip, make sure you have your hotel address (if any) and directions from MIA in hand; then grab a map at any of MIA’s rental counters. If you do opt for a rental car, there are public parking garages connected to Terminal E that cost between $3–$7 per hour (long-term parking is also available). Note: There are fewer public garages near Terminals A/B & C.

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