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Preclearance for travel to the US – how does it work and what do you need?

Simon Calder’s Travel

If you’ve flown the Atlantic to the USA, perhaps you know the feeling: you’re exhausted after a long flight – and you might then spend an hour or more lining up for American immigration.

Edinburgh airport aims to solve that problem, by clearing transatlantic passengers through US border formalities while they’re still on Scottish soil.

Preclearance is already in effect at nine Canadian airports, Dublin and Shannon in Ireland, the island nations of Aruba and Bermuda as well as Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

To bring the facility to the UK requires a deal to be struck between American and British governments. Edinburgh airport CEO Gordon Dewar told The Independent: “We’re really confident we can have that up and running about two to three years after the signing of the agreement.”

So how does preclearance work – and what are its benefits? These are the key questions and answers.

What is preclearance?

Very simply, you turn up at your departure airport for the US; check in as normal and go through security. But then there’s another check waiting, fully staffed by US Customs and Border Protection.

The officer at the desk will process you into the United States. You then step aboard your flight, and when you arrive in America instead of going through the usual formalities you’re treated as a domestic arrival – and can leave the airport, or transfer to another flight, immediately.

The closest the UK gets to anything similar is for travellers from England to France: at the port of Dover, the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal and London St Pancras, the Eurostar station, travellers pass through French frontier controls and are treated as though they’re actually in France before they board a ferry or train.

How is the Dublin experience?

There’s an entire mini-terminal devoted to transatlantic travellers. From my experience it works extremely smoothly. Unlike on arrival at the US, when 300 people turn up at passport control all at once on a plane, there’s a smooth flow of people and rarely any significant queues.

Many people from outside Ireland like the idea, and there’s a lot of connecting traffic – much to the benefit of the Irish airline Aer Lingus and Dublin airport.

Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh airport, says he’s keen to emulate the success of the Irish capital: “If you look at what Dublin have achieved,…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at The Independent Travel…