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United States: Negotiations on Preclearance Agreements to Start

(July 1, 2015)

In May 2015, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will start negotiations with nine countries (Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom) in order to attempt to reach agreements with their respective governments on preclearance operations that would take place in airports located in these nations. (Press Release, DHS, DHS Announces Intent to Expand Preclearance to 10 New Airports, (May 29, 2015)).

Preclearance is a process whereby officers with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on duty abroad determine whether passengers and their baggage or goods headed to the United States may be admitted into the country before departing a port overseas, provided that applicable U.S. aviation security standards are met so that passengers may arrive at a U.S. destination without having to be re-inspected. (Id.)

The DHS requested statements of interest from foreign countries willing to engage in negotiations aimed at reaching such preclearance agreements with the United States. More than 24 foreign airports responded in the affirmative, and from among them the airports located in the aforementioned countries were selected based on their potential to support the program. (Id.) The specific airports chosen include:

  • Brussels Airport, Belgium;
  • Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic;
  • Narita International Airport, Japan;
  • Amsterdam Airport Schipol, Netherlands;
  • Oslo Airport, Norway;
  • Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain;
  • Stockholm Arlanda Airport, Sweden;
  • Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and
  • London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom. (Id.)

Currently, the CBP has 15 preclearance points, located in Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. (Id.)