U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it will invite new airports to participate in the Preclearance program for the first time since 2016. Beginning September 29, 2020, interested foreign airports may apply for Preclearance by submitting an application through the CBP website.
“Preclearance strengthens our partnerships abroad and provides benefits to passengers, airports, governments, and airlines,” said William Ferrara, Executive Assistant Commissioner of the CBP Office of Field Operations. “Those looking to apply will find that the process is more transparent than ever before. Over the past 70 years, Preclearance has achieved great success and we’re excited to offer this unique opportunity to our partners abroad.”
Preclearance is a partnership through which governments authorize CBP to station personnel at airports to complete customs, immigration, and agriculture inspections of travelers before they board flights bound for the United States. Precleared travelers bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security inspections upon arrival in the United States, saving valuable time as they proceed to connecting flights or their destination.
“Preclearance is an excellent passenger facilitation program that complements our rigorous U.S. standards and strengthens global security through the development of key international partnerships,” said TSA’s Deputy Executive Assistant Administrator for Security Operations, Melanie Harvey. “This program is a win-win allowing travelers to experience a streamlined approach that saves them time and frustration while reducing the burden on our domestic system.”
Preclearance airports gain an advantage over competitors by making U.S.-bound travel more convenient and enabling direct routes to more than 160 U.S. airports with limited or no CBP facilities. For example, Preclearance helped drive a 75 percent increase in Dublin Airport’s U.S.-bound travel volume from 2014 to 2018.
“Preclearance offers airports opportunities for increased traveler volume, increased revenue and new flight routes,” said Clint Lamm, CBP Director of Preclearance Field Operations. “Preclearance leverages innovative technology to expedite passenger processing while enhancing security.”
To be eligible for Preclearance, airports must host U.S. air carrier operations, have a suitable facility for Preclearance processing, and be prepared to share costs with the U.S. Government. Preclearance requires bilateral agreements between the United States and the host country, so it is essential for interested airports to coordinate closely with their governments throughout the application process.
To establish Preclearance, host governments and airport operators must also implement security standards and protocols that are determined by the TSA to be comparable to those of the United States and therefore sufficiently effective to enable passengers to deplane into sterile areas of airports in the United States.
“Government and airport cooperation during the process is integral to the success of initiating new preclearance operations,” said TSA Mitigation Operations Director Karen Steer. “Both CBP and TSA are committed to working with foreign partners to advance preclearance operations.”
To date, CBP and its foreign partners have established 16 Preclearance airports in six countries. Preclearance cooperation enhances U.S. and foreign partner security while facilitating growing volumes of U.S.-bound air travel. The new Preclearance application is available at CBP.gov/Preclearance.