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Preclearance Expansion

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Building upon the success of existing Preclearance operations, CBP is looking to expand the program to strategic locations in 2021 and beyond. Interested foreign governments and airport operators can submit inquiries pertaining to Preclearance expansion to preclearance.expansion@cbp.dhs.gov.

Interested parties can click the "Get to Know Preclearance" link below to view the requirements for Preclearance.  

Get to Know Preclearance

*Note: Preclearance is  not for individual travelers. The eligible parties are foreign governments and airport operators.

Preclearance FAQs

Q: What is Preclearance?

A: Preclearance is the strategic stationing of CBP personnel at designated foreign locations to inspect travelers prior to boarding U.S.-bound flights, trains, ships, and ferries. With Preclearance, travelers bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections upon U.S. arrival and proceed directly to their connecting flight or destination.

Q: How many personnel does CBP station at Preclearance locations?

A: Today, CBP has more than 600 officers and agriculture specialists at 16 Preclearance locations in six countries: Aruba, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.

Q: How many travelers does CBP process via Preclearance operations?

A: In 2019, CBP processed more than 22 million passengers at Preclearance locations, representing approximately 16 percent of all U.S.-bound commercial air travelers.

Q: When was the Preclearance program established?

A: Preclearance operations began in 1952 at Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Q: What’s the difference between Preclearance and Trusted Traveler Programs?

  • Preclearance vs. Global Entry – Global Entry is a CBP program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Travelers do not need to apply or be pre-approved to go through a Preclearance inspection.
  • Preclearance vs. TSA PreCheck – TSA PreCheck allows expedited clearance through airport security for pre-approved travelers on both domestic and international departures. Preclearance inspections only take place at a foreign location, prior to arriving back into the U.S.

Q: How does Preclearance benefit travelers?

A: Preclearance has proven benefits for travelers, including:

  1. No Security or Waiting upon U.S. Arrival – Precleared travelers skip CBP and TSA inspection lines upon arrival in the U.S and proceed directly to a connecting flight or final destination.
  2. Easier Domestic Connections – Precleared travelers can accept tighter connection windows at U.S. airports and will be less likely to miss a domestic connection.

Q: How does Preclearance benefit airports and airlines?

A: Preclearance has proven benefits for airports and airlines:

 Airport Benefits:

  1. New U.S. Destinations – Preclearance enables new direct routes to more than 160 U.S. airports regardless of whether they have a CBP port of entry. Airports gain an advantage over competitors for the U.S.-bound traveler market.
  2. Terminal of the Future – Preclearance brings innovative technologies like biometric facial comparison that expedite passenger processing and help meet the demand of rising passenger volume to the United States.
  3. Increased Gate Availability – Preclearance creates more U.S. gate availability and reduces the burden on congested gateway CBP facilities.

Airline Benefits:

  1. Cost Savings – Airlines can access less expensive U.S. domestic gates and more flexible arrival times at airports in the United States. Inadmissible travelers are also encountered at the foreign destination prior to boarding, alleviating much of the airline cost to return these individuals to the original embarkation point.
  2. Increase U.S. Market Access – Airlines can establish new routes to desirable U.S. destinations that meet growing traveler demand.
  3. Decreased Overhead – Preclearance reduces overhead and labor in the U.S. to handle international arriving passengers and baggage.
  4. Transit Travel Growth – Preclearance enhances opportunities for U.S.-bound transit travel.

Q: How does Preclearance benefit foreign governments?

A: Preclearance has proven benefits for foreign governments:

  1. Enhanced Security – Preclearance bolsters the safety and security of all international flights while facilitating efficient travel.
  2. Greater Collaboration – Preclearance increases collaboration and coordination between the United States and host governments through daily interactions among local law enforcement partners and other government authorities.
  3. Transit Travel Growth – Preclearance improves revenue generating opportunities at destination locations and increases the transit market to the United States.

Q: How does Preclearance benefit the U.S. Government?

A: Preclearance provides layered security. Travelers who would otherwise be declared inadmissible upon arrival to the United States are instead prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights. In the same way, narcotics, contraband, prohibited items, and dangerous pests and agriculture diseases are stopped before they reach the United States.

Q: Why is CBP announcing another round of Preclearance expansion?

A: Preclearance is an integral component of CBP’s approach to further securing and facilitating U.S.-bound air travel. Preclearance increases capacity and growth opportunities for airports and air carriers in the U.S. market, while improving the passenger experience for U.S.-bound travelers.

Q: Why is CBP expanding Preclearance when the air industry is still recovering from COVID-19?

A: Establishing a Preclearance location can take years. Air industry stakeholders that pursue Preclearance as part of their reconstitution programs following the COVID-19 pandemic will gain an advantage over competitors for the U.S.-bound travel market, as the program enables new direct routes to more than 160 U.S. airports, increases gate availability, and expedites passenger processing.

Q: Will CBP prioritize new applicants over applicants from the previous rounds of expansion?

A: CBP will continue to prioritize applicants based on the feasibility of implementing Preclearance operations, the impact to CBP’s mission, and the airport and host government’s ability to conclude Preclearance agreements and stand up a location.

Q: What is different about this round of Preclearance expansion?

A: CBP has taken several steps to streamline the Preclearance expansion process:

  1. CBP has updated the Preclearance webpage to include a detailed, transparent application process where applicants understand Preclearance’s benefits, requirements, and expectations before applying.
  2. Applications will now be accepted continuously, whereas previously applications were only accepted within a limited timeframe.
  3. CBP and its partners will follow a forward-leaning, milestone-based negotiation timeline.

Q: Which airports are eligible to apply for Preclearance?

A: Requirements for Preclearance:

  • Airport must host a U.S. air carrier that operates a direct U.S.-bound flight.
  • CBP personnel must have the authorities and protections necessary to fulfill their duties.
  • Airport partners must be willing to share costs related to operating and administrative expenses and provide facilities and equipment that meet CBP technical design standards.
  • CBP personnel require the tools and equipment necessary to protect travelers.
  • The airport operator must implement TSA-comparable aviation security screening measures.

Q: Will Canadian airports be eligible to apply for Preclearance?

A: Yes. Under the terms of the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada (LRMA), Canadian airports are eligible to apply for Preclearance. CBP will still need information from the applicant to evaluate the airport’s suitability as a Preclearance location, and confirmation on coordination with the appropriate Canadian government authorities. 

Q: How does the application process work?

A: The new application process consists of three steps:

  1. Application - Interested airports and their governments submit a request for the application via the link on CBP.gov/Preclearance. The application will then be sent to the contact information listed in the request. Both the airport operator and the host government must complete their designated sections. The airport operator will then combine both parts and submit to CBP via preclearance.expansion@cbp.dhs.gov.
  1. Evaluation - CBP and U.S. Government partners assess candidate airports.
  1. Negotiation - CBP and the host government negotiate and sign a bilateral agreement. Separately, the government must negotiate a memorandum of cooperation with TSA.

Q: What is the deadline by which applications must be submitted?

A: There is no deadline. CBP will henceforth accept Preclearance applications on a continuous basis via CBP.gov/Preclearance and preclearance.expansion@cbp.dhs.gov.

Q: Are only airports eligible to apply for Preclearance status?

A: Generally, Preclearance expansion is limited to air transport. However, under the terms of the Agreement on Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance (LRMA) between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Canada, other modes of travel are eligible to apply for Preclearance, in coordination with the appropriate Canadian government authorities.

  • Last Modified: September 28, 2022