US Customs & Border Protection Pre-Clearance Program: Immigration to Happen at Foreign Airports

The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) intends to increase its number of preclearance facilities in international airports worldwide. Beginning in 2015, CBP will start to evaluate and negotiate potential preclearance locations.

Preclearance allows international travelers flying to the US to undergo the immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections prior to departure at the international airport rather than at their US destination airport. Travelers who undergo preclearance are not inspected once again upon arrival in the US airport, saving them valuable time. After undergoing pre-clearance in the foreign airport, travelers are treated as domestic arrivals. Only commercial air passengers and their goods can undergo preclearance; preclearance does not apply to cargo.

There are currently 15 foreign airports in 6 different countries with preclearance facilities. They include:

  • Calgary International Airport, Canada
  • Edmonton International Airport, Canada
  • Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, Canada
  • Montreal Trudeau International Airport, Canada
  • Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Canada
  • Vancouver International Airport, Canada
  • Victoria Preclearance, Canada
  • Winnipeg International Airport, Canada
  • Bahamas Freeport Preclearance, Caribbean
  • Bahamas Nassau Preclearance, Caribbean
  • Bermuda L.F. Wade International Airport, Caribbean
  • Aruba Preclearance, Caribbean
  • Shannon Airport, Ireland
  • Dublin Airport, Ireland
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport, United Arab Emirates

By expanding this list of airports with preclearance facilities, both passengers and airports alike will benefit. More preclearance locations will give more international travelers the ability to undergo the CBP inspection process beforehand, shortening processing time at their arrival airport in the US. Additionally, passengers with connecting flights in the US who undergo preclearance can enjoy shorter layovers, since they are treated as domestic arrivals.

It should be noted that all passengers who choose to undergo preclearance must also follow standard CBP inspection regulations, which are outlined below.

  • Travelers must provide Advanced Passenger Information prior to flight check-in.
  • Travelers must know what merchandise can and cannot be brought into the US.
  • Travelers must have an individual machine readable passport as well as a return or onward travel ticket, confirming departure from the US within 90 days of arrival.
  • Travelers must complete a Customs Declaration form on the day of departure.

Once the US CBP finalizes its negotiations for expanding preclearance locations, more travelers to the US will be able to enjoy a more convenient international travel experience. Further details about the new CBP preclearance locations are expected later in 2015.