The US Wants to Open Customs Preclearance at This Caribbean Airport
Above: Punta Cana Airport
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The United States intends to enter talks to expand air preclearance operations to Punta Cana Airport in the Dominican Republic, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced Friday.
The airport is one of 10 foreign airports around the world in which the US is interested in establishing preclearance operations.
Preclearance means each traveler undergoes immigration, customs and agriculture inspection by US Customs and Border Protection before boarding a direct flight to the US; upon arrival in the US, the passenger is treated as if arriving from a domestic flight.
“A significant homeland security priority of mine is building more preclearance capacity at airports overseas,” Johnson said. “We have this now in 15 airports. I am pleased that we are seeking negotiations with ten 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.”
Customs and Border Protection said the announcement came after a “nearly a year-long process that began with soliciting expressions of interest from foreign airports.”
“More than two dozen foreign airports expressed an interest in opening Preclearance facilities,” the DHS said.
If realized, the Punta Cana preclearance programme would become the third in the region, joining existing preclearance at airports in Nassau and Aruba.
“CBP’s preclearance operations are an important step in the US government’s effort to prevent terrorism from coming to our borders,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “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.”
The Punta Cana airport recently completed a brand-new airport terminal project.