WASHINGTON—The United States and Sweden signed an agreement today in Stockholm to implement U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Preclearance operations at Stockholm Arlanda Airport.
U.S. Ambassador Azita Raji signed on behalf of the United States and Minister of Home Affairs Anders Ygeman signed on behalf of Sweden. With Preclearance, travelers undergo CBP immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections before boarding a flight to the United States at a foreign airport rather than upon arrival in the U.S. More than 1,700 flights from Arlanda Airport carrying nearly 400,000 travelers flew to the United States last year.
“Today marks an important step in taking the already strong economic and security partnership between the United States and Sweden to the next level. This agreement will lead to the establishment of a Preclearance facility at Stockholm Arlanda Airport, making it among the first European airports to have such a facility,” said Ambassador Raji. “It will allow travelers to clear U.S. customs and immigration before stepping on board the aircraft, thereby reducing wait times, facilitating quicker connections to U.S. domestic flights, and resulting in air carriers to fly direct to more U.S. destinations.”
“The agreement is truly breaking new ground in Sweden. We foresee many benefits with a Preclearance location at Arlanda Airport,” said Minister of Home Affairs Ygeman. “Smoother border crossings will make travelling to the U.S. easier for all air passengers. We expect benefits for the trade between the United States and Sweden.”
“This agreement brings our two countries one step closer to enhancing the travel experience for those who travel to the U.S. from Stockholm each year,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “We are excited to continue this process with Sweden and look forward to beginning Preclearance operations as early as 2019.”
The agreement must now be brought into force after the Governments have completed all necessary internal procedures. This process is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. Preclearance operations may begin at Stockholm Arlanda Airport as early as 2019.
Preclearance benefits travelers, host airports, and air carriers in addition to being a strong economic opportunity for both the host country and the United States. Preclearance has the potential to increase capacity and growth opportunities for airports and air carriers in the host country and the United States, while improving the traveler experience. For travelers, Preclearance leads to faster connections and the ability to exit the airport immediately upon landing the United States. Preclearance also allows law enforcement to identify potential threats at the earliest opportunity.
Stockholm Arlanda Airport submitted a letter of interest to add Preclearance operations during the first Preclearance open season in 2014. In May 2015, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson identified the airport as a prioritized Preclearance location.
CBP also continues to engage with several of the host governments of other prioritized locations, which included: Brussels Airport, Belgium; Punta Cana Airport, Dominican Republic; Narita International Airport, Japan; Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Netherlands; Oslo Airport, Norway; Madrid-Barajas Airport, Spain; Istanbul Ataturk Airport, Turkey; and London Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport, United Kingdom.
Preclearance is the process by which CBP officers stationed abroad inspect and make admissibility decisions about passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage heading to the United States before they leave a foreign port. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that passenger and accessible property screening at a foreign Preclearance airport conforms to U.S. aviation security screening standards in order for the U.S.-bound aircraft to disembark passengers at a domestic U.S. air terminal without needing to be rescreened. CBP officers retain the authority to inspect passengers and their accompanying goods or baggage after arriving in the United States.
Preclearance operations began in 1952 at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Today, CBP has more than 600 law enforcement officers and agriculture specialists stationed at 15 air Preclearance locations in 6 countries: Aruba; Freeport and Nassau, the Bahamas; Bermuda; Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg, Canada; Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Last year, CBP cleared more than 18 million passengers through these Preclearance locations.
Expanding Preclearance is one of the steps the Administration has taken to help accelerate the growth of the American travel and tourism industry, while enforcing the highest level of security.