Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security, has announced that the USA will enter into negotiations to expand air preclearance operations to 10 new foreign airports, located in nine separate countries including Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the UK.
If negotiations are successful, preclearance – where each traveler undergoes immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) before boarding a direct flight to the US – could be completed before departure rather than upon arrival in the US.
Johnson said, “A significant homeland security priority of mine is building more preclearance capacity at airports overseas. It is currently available in 15 airports and I am pleased that we are seeking negotiations with 10 new airports in nine countries. I want to take every opportunity we have to push our homeland security out beyond our borders so that we are not defending the homeland from the one-yard line. Preclearance is a win-win for the traveling public. It provides aviation and homeland security, and it reduces wait times upon arrival at the busiest US airports.”
More than two-dozen foreign airports expressed an interest in opening preclearance facilities, which was then narrowed down to a shortlist of 10. The list comprises: Brussels Airport in Belgium; Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport in Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schipol in the Netherlands; Oslo Airport in Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport in Spain; Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport in the UK. In 2014, nearly 20 million passengers traveled from these ten airports to the US.
R Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner for CBP, said, “CBP’s preclearance operations are an important step in the US government’s effort to prevent terrorism from coming to our borders. 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.”