U.S. Customs and Border Protection is expanding its preclearance program at international airports, the agency shared with Travel + Leisure this week, allowing travelers to go through customs, immigration, and agriculture inspections before they board a flight to America.
Travelers who use the program do not have to clear customs or go through any Transportation Security Administration security inspections when they arrive in the U.S. In addition, the preclearance program — which started in 1952 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and is currently offered at 16 locations in six countries — allows travelers to fly into U.S. airports that do not have CBP facilities.
“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,” TSA’s Deputy Executive Assistant Administrator for Security Operations Melanie Harvey said in a statement. “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.”
The program hasn’t allowed new airports to apply since 2016. Now, airports that host U.S. carrier operations, have a “suitable facility for Preclearance processing,” and are willing to share costs with the U.S. can apply. Airports and local governments must also implement security protocols that are “comparable” to what travelers find in the U.S.
Currently, preclearance operations are offered in the following locations: Dublin and Shannon in Ireland; Aruba; Freeport and Nassau in The Bahamas; Bermuda; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; and Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Victoria, and Winnipeg in Canada.
As part of the expansion, CBP agreed to implement the preclearance program at Belgium’s Brussels Airport. And the agency is close to finalizing similar deals for El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, Colombia, and Amsterdam Schiphol as well, AFAR reported.
“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,” the agency said in a statement.
The decision to expand the program comes just weeks after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ruled international travelers are no longer required to undergo enhanced COVID-19 screening upon arrival to the U.S. and will not be routed through designated airports.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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