Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance: Part 1 – Pre-Clearance Basics

> | July 16, 2014 | 1 Comment
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Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance: Part 1 – Pre-Clearance Basics

This is a post by author Derek Collins. Derek is general manager for Universal Aviation Ireland – Shannon, which has an aircraft ground handling facility in Shannon, Ireland. Derek is an expert on business aircraft operations in Ireland and can be contacted at

This business aviation blog post is the first part of a series on pre-clearing U.S. customs in Ireland.

More and more General Aviation (GA) operators are taking advantage of pre-clearance services at Shannon, Ireland (EINN). This U.S. Customs pre-clearance option has been steadily enhanced over the years. With time involved to pre-clear now significantly reduced compared to a few years ago, operators are finding it worthwhile to take advantage of this option when heading from Europe to the U.S.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. EINN pre-clearance

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pre-clearance of GA aircraft has been available at EINN since 2010. Originally, this service was only possible for private non-revenue flights, but in 2011 pre-clearance for charter (non-scheduled commercial) was also made available. Pre-clearance requirements and lead times are now the same for both private non-revenue and charter flights. Be aware that CBP pre-clearance at EINN is not available for cargo, government, diplomatic, and/or military flights. After you clear at EINN, there are approximately 200 airports in the U.S. to which you may operate.

2. Hours of operation

Pre-clearance operating hours at EINN are 0700-1500 local seven days a week. First available pre-clearance slot is at 0715 local, with the last option being 1400 local. Hours of operation are limited due to limited manpower and budget. While overtime for pre-clearance is not a possibility at EINN, there’s currently operator demand for pre-clearance services beyond 1400 local. While CBP operating hours may be increased in the future, no extensions have been approved at this time. It’s hoped, however, that the current operating window will be extended at some point to make available additional operator options.

3. Advance notification

For private non-revenue and charter flights, pre-clearance appointments must be made with CBP Shannon at least 24 hours prior to arrival. Shorter-notice arrangements may be possible, on a case-by-case basis, depending on CBP availability and at their discretion. It’s not possible, however, to land at EINN and then set up pre-clearance. Initially, in 2011 48 hours’ advance notification was mandated for charter pre-clearances, but this has been reduced to 24 hours.

4. Number of passengers onboard

CBP has two pre-clearance areas at EINN – one for private/charter flights with no more than 20 passengers (not including crew members) and the other for flights with passenger counts of more than 20. If your flight has more than 20 passengers, you’ll pre-clear on the commercial side. This involves standing in line with passengers from scheduled commercial flights (if there is a commercial flight pre-clearing at the designated time), and the clearance process will likely take a little longer.

5. Turnaround time

When EINN pre-clearance was first offered, it took about 90 minutes to pre-clear and service an aircraft at EINN. Today, this is down to about 60 minutes. Considering that a tech stop, without CBP pre-clearance, typically requires about 45 minutes, an extra 15 minutes on the ground to accomplish CBP clearance is not considered a problem for many operators. Furthermore, some operators report that this time is actually shorter than the time needed to clear at some locations in the U.S.

6. APIS requirements

eAPIS (for private) and APIS (for charter) for the leg to the U.S. must be filed at least 60 minutes prior to departure (from your departure point to EINN) when you’ve set up pre-clearance at EINN. You may call to make CBP pre-clearance arrangements prior to submitting eAPIS or APIS. It’s very important, however, to ensure that eAPIS or APIS notifications are made and/or crew/passenger changes updated at least 60 minutes prior to departure to EINN.

7. Additional reading: "Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance" Series Index

*Note: Links will become active once new articles are published.


Based on your final destination in the U.S. and schedule, operators traveling from Europe may find that pre-clearing in Shannon is advantageous option – both in terms of time and simplicity. Work with your EINN ground handler and/or 3rd-party provider to better understand the process and if this is a good fit for your operation. Also, watch for our upcoming articles on this blog which will cover this process more in depth.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Ireland, contact me at

Later, we’ll discuss setting up U.S. CBP pre-clearance in Shannon.

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Derek Collins has more than a decade’s experience working in ground support in Ireland. He is an expert at providing ground handling services to business aircraft throughout Ireland. Based in Shannon, Ireland, Derek has unique expertise in the United States Customs and Border Protection’s pre-clearance facility at Shannon, which allows operators to pre-clear all U.S. Customs and proceed directly to a number of destinations within the U.S. A member of the Shannon Airport Operations Committee, Derek works closely with airport authorities and CBP as an advocate on behalf of business aviation operators traveling to Shannon or using Shannon as a tech stop.

Derek, who has a degree from the University of Limerick, can be reached at

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