Ben Mutzabaugh - Sept. 28, 2020
Brussels Airport appears to be next in line to join the United States’ “Preclearance” program, the addition of the Belgian capital confirmed by U.S. authorities on Monday.
The program, run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), puts U.S.-bound travelers through customs and immigration and security at their foreign airport of departure. Once cleared, flyers are sent to board their flight and then arrive in the U.S. essentially as domestic passengers.
That means travelers can walk off the plane and immediately leave the airport or go directly to another gate for a connecting flight since they’ve cleared customs and border controls prior to departure.
Reports that Brussels would join be next to join the ranks of Preclearance airports surfaced this summer, but Monday’s announcement from the CBP makes it official. Brussels Airport had been under consideration by U.S. officials ever since the agency released a list of 10 Potential Preclearance additions in 9 countries back in 2015.
“Precleared travelers will bypass CBP and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security inspections upon arrival in the United States, saving valuable time as they proceed to connecting flights or their destination,” CBP said in a statement announcing the agreement to add Brussels.
Still, travelers eager to avail themselves of the new option will have to wait just a bit longer. The CBP said Preclearance checks would only commence after “the signed agreement is ratified by the Belgian parliament” and government and airport officials “complete all necessary internal procedures.”
CBP did not offer a more-specific timeline.
Aside from the travel experience, CBP officials say Preclearance helps security officials by allowing the U.S. and partner countries to “stop bad actors at the earliest possible point in the travel continuum.”
Still, Brussels joins a growing list of foreign airports to be included in the program, which debuted in 1952 at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in Canada. (Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop airport is still waiting.)
Brussels will be the 16th airport in the program. Most are in Canada, where eight airports have Preclearance facilities. There are seven additional cities with Preclearance spread across Aruba, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates. There’s also a Preclearance facility at the passenger ferry terminal in Victoria, British Columbia.
A full list is below (and includes one non-airport location):
Victoria (passenger ferry terminal)
Oranjestad/Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)
Freeport/Grand Bahama (FPO)
Hamilton/Wade International Airport (BDA)
United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi (AUH)
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