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The United Statesmarker operates border preclearance facilities at a number of ports and airports in foreign countries. They are staffed and operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers. Travelers pass through Immigration and Customs, Public Health, and Department of Agriculturemarker inspections before boarding their aircraft, ship or train. This process is intended to streamline border procedures, to reduce congestion at ports of entry, and to facilitate travel between the preclearance location and some U.S. airports that may not be equipped to handle international travellers.

Preclearance exists at most major Canadianmarker airports, providing convenience to travellers from those cities to the U.S. Arrangements also exist with some airports in Bermudamarker, The Bahamasmarker, Arubamarker and at two airports in Irelandmarker, although Dublin Airportmarker's facility provides only immigration facilities, and as such is properly called preinspection. In Canadamarker, U.S. Border Preclearance is also known by its French name, prédédouanement. When travelers from a preclearance port arrive in the U.S. they do so as domestic travelers (and are not subject to further inspections). This is particularly beneficial to those who have an ongoing connection (such as a connecting flight), as there is no risk of border delays causing them to miss their connection. (A corresponding drawback, however, is that a delay in preclearance could cause the passenger to miss the outbound flight.) Air travelers with further connections have their baggage checked through to their destination; without preclearance the baggage would have to be collected prior to customs inspection and then checked-in for the subsequent flight.

Preclearance provides considerable flexibility to the airlines operating in those routes where such program is available. For example, major U.S airlines and their subsidiaries routinely operate many daily flights from locations like Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker, or Nassaumarker, Bahamas, to New York Citymarker. Thanks to the presence of preclearance facilities in Toronto and Nassau, the airlines can conveniently direct their flights from these locations to land at LaGuardia Airportmarker, rather than the much larger and busier John F. Kennedy International Airportmarker. This allows them to save the valuable space at JFK for their other international arrivals.

Preclearance applies to both U.S. citizens as well as citizens of most other countries who travel to the U.S. As the U.S. requires those in transit through the U.S. to pass through U.S. immigration (unlike many other countries, which permit airside transfers), preclearance also applies to transit passengers.

These facilities exist because of agreements made between the federal government of the United States and the government of the host country. Travelers who have passed through the U.S. government checks, but whose flight or ship has not departed, remain in the legal jurisdiction of the host country. U.S. officials may question and search travelers, but they do not have powers of arrest (either for customs or immigration violations, or for the execution of outstanding warrants), although they can deny boarding. Local criminal laws apply, and are enforced by local officials. Some countries have laws in place specifically to cover preclearance issues.


Informal preclearance arrangements between the U.S. and Canada began in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, in 1952, following a request from American Airlines. This was extended and formalized with Canada's passage of the Air Transport Preclearance Act passed by the Canadian House of Commons in 1974, the 1999 Preclearance Act (Bill S-22) and with the 2001 Canada-U.S. Agreement on Air Transport Preclearance. The following Canadian airports operate U.S. preclearance facilities:

The U.S. operates a preclearance post at Pacific Central Stationmarker for Amtrak Cascades rail service between Vancouvermarker, British Columbiamarker, and Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker.

The U.S. operates a preclearance post at the port of Vancouver. This is particularly valuable to travellers using cruise liners which visit Alaskamarker or that depart from Vancouver and have a first stop at other US coastal cities situated along the west coast of North America (Seattle, Astoria, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego).

The U.S. operates a preclearance post for immigration only (customs is still done in the U.S.A.), at the port of Victoriamarker for the Black Ball Line MV Coho service to Port Angeles, WAmarker.

Porter Airlines plans to build a new building at Toronto City Airportmarker. The plans for this facility plan to include both Canada Border Services Agency clearence and U.S. Customs and Border Protection clearence.

Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean

Informal preclearance with Bermudamarker began in 1960. The Bahamasmarker and the U.S. signed a treaty in June 1974 formalizing the process.

Plans are underway for a preclearance facility to be opened at Punta Cana International Airportmarker located in the popular tourist gateway of Punta Canamarker, Dominican Republicmarker by the end of summer 2009.


Customs and Border Protection at Shannon
Shannon Airport: "Welcome to the United States.
US-VISIT procedures are in effect.
All international visitors are required to provide two digital fingerscans and a digital photograph."
The U.S. and Ireland entered into a preinspection arrangement in 1986. In Dublin Airportmarker, only immigration checks are performed, with customs and agriculture inspections still done on arrival in the U.S. ‚ÄĒ therefore passengers from Dublin must still land at international terminals. Full preclearance services are available at Shannon Airportmarker, although not to Aer Lingus passengers until, as the airline has opted out of using the facilities until T2 is open in Dublin. This will be followed by preclearance facilities at Dublin Airportmarker that will be available when terminal 2, which is currently under construction, opens in 2010. Both airports will have full CBP facilities, which will allow passengers arriving in the U.S. to leave airports upon landing without further inspection.

See also


  1. Press release by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
  2. Busiest Dominican airport to have U.S. Customs, Immigration station, Nuevo Diario reports from the Dominican Times retrieved 25 July 2008

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