Beginning in 2015, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) plans to expand its preclearance operations at foreign airports, CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner Kevin McAleenan announced this week.
At airports where CBP offers preclearance, passengers traveling to the United States complete immigration, customs, and agricultural inspections prior to departure instead of upon arrival. The benefits are two-fold, according to CBP: One, the process improves security by allowing the United States and its international partners to identify and address threats as early in the travel process as possible. Two, it improves the passenger experience by reducing wait times at U.S. airports; because precleared passengers can skip them, U.S. customs lines are shorter, making it easier for foreign travelers to make domestic connections.
"CBP's preclearance operations are an important step in the U.S. government's effort to prevent terrorism from coming to our borders." McAleenan said in a statement. "Where we can identify foreign airports willing to partner with us, additional preclearance agreements will further protect the safety and security of our citizens while also streamlining legitimate travel and commerce."
Preclearance is currently available at 15 foreign airports in six countries. CBP will begin evaluating expansion opportunities next year; because the implementation process can take up to three years, preclearance is expected to be operational at new airports by 2018.