Updated on 01.03.2024

Who can use the Preclearance Program before entering the US?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offers US travelers at some airports the opportunity to go through border control before entering the US via preclearance. Reason enough to take a closer look at preclearance entry controls.
Topics on this page:
Jump to topic

Share article:

Bild von Preclearance am Abflughafen

What is preclearance?

Before US travelers are allowed to enter their final destination, the United States, every passenger is normally checked by US border officials after leaving the aircraft. These entry and customs checks traditionally only take place after arrival in the USA on American soil. The Preclearance program, however, allows these border controls for travelers and their baggage to take place before boarding the aircraft at the foreign airport of departure.

Special CBP border control zones were opened at the participating airports to facilitate these Preclearance checks. Preclearance border control is no different from the classic US border control upon arrival in the United States. However, travelers who have been pre-checked by Preclearance do not have to undergo the usual check upon arrival in the United States.

Advantages of Preclearance

Preclearance was created primarily for security and economic reasons. The program promotes the redistribution of the continuously increasing travel volume in the United States and offers the responsible authorities the opportunity to intensify general security checks and counteract international threats.

Bild von einem Flughafen, der am Preclearance Programm teilnimmt

The program offers the following advantages for US travelers:

  • easy to use
  • shorter waiting times
  • elimination of US immigration control on arrival
  • stress-free entry
  • booking of short-notice connecting flights within the US
  • in the event of a border rejection: travelers save a considerable amount of time and money

Requirements for Preclearance

Requirements for the departure airport

A number of requirements must be met by the airport in order to participate in the Preclearance program. In order to implement CBP's Preclearance, separate Preclearance areas must be set up and aviation security screening must be offered at US level. This aviation security screening is the first step in the Preclearance process and combines national security screening with the first stage of US border control.

The actual border control at the departure airport is no different from the regular entry control in the United States. The Trusted Traveler Program Global Entry can also be used at Preclearance airports.

Requirements for passengers

There are no special requirements for passengers. Every passenger traveling to the USA from participating airports is automatically checked on site via the Preclearance program.

When and where is Preclearance possible?

Toronto Pearson Airport was inaugurated in 1952 as the first Preclearance airport. Since then, the program has been expanded to a total of 15 airports in six countries. More than 600 CBP officers are stationed in Ireland, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Aruba. U.S. Customs and Border Protection thus handles over 22 million border controls outside the United States each year.

Procedure for entering the country at the US airport

If you use the Preclearance check, you will of course still ask yourself what the procedure is like at the US airport.

Due to the high security standards, the separate waiting area, which is used exclusively by Preclearance passengers, is comparable to US territory. Arrival in the US is therefore as uncomplicated as a domestic flight.

Preclearance passengers

  • are not subject to CBP border controls
  • may go directly to the baggage drop-off points and / or
  • are allowed to leave the airport directly.



Updated on 01.03.2024