Overview of CIQ and U.S. Preclearance in Shannon, Ireland

PT 4 M minute read
Overview of CIQ and U.S. Preclearance in Shannon, Ireland

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating in Ireland and continues from our last article: "Operations to Ireland – Fuel & Additional Services."

Clearing Irish Customs, Immigrations and Quarantine (CIQ) is normally an uncomplicated process. Operators need to be mindful, however, of visa requirements and the need to dispose of almost all non-pre-packaged, non-shelf-stable international food and catering trash on arrival in Ireland. In almost all cases, passengers will clear CIQ in the main terminal. Here’s an overview of what you should know:

1. Know procedures for clearing CIQ

CIQ is available at major airports in Ireland such as Shannon (EINN), Dublin (EIDW) and Cork (EICK), and the clearance process usually goes quickly. These airports in Ireland are open 24/7, with CIQ also available 24/7. For EINN, your ground handler will escort passengers, crew and luggage to CIQ at the main terminal and onward to ground transportation. Crew may use crew clearance customs lines, but passengers usually line up along with inbound scheduled airline passengers. Outbound CIQ clearance is not necessary regardless of type of flight. Planeside clearance may be requested but is approved only in rare cases. Airport passenger fees are liable for departing passengers only and don’t relate to technical transit stops. Arrival and/or departure cards are no longer required, but you’ll need to present a general declaration on arrival, along with passports and any required visas. Crew ID will suffice in place of passports. Be aware that some non-EU nationals require visas for Ireland, and visas cannot be obtained on arrival. Ireland does, however, accept visas issued by Schengen countries. Always confirm visa requirements in advance with your 3rd-party provider.

2. Agricultural restrictions are rigorously enforced

Other than pre-packaged foods, not requiring refrigeration, you’ll need to dispose of all international food and catering on arrival in Ireland. You may leave restricted items – including meat, fruits, etc. – onboard your aircraft but not with your ground handler. It will need to be disposed of by the appropriate authorities.

3. Consider U.S. Customs pre-clearance options at Shannon

U.S. Customs pre-clearance is an option to consider at EINN, and the process is faster and smoother than it was a year or two ago. Pre-clearance is available daily 0700-1500 local, and requires 48 hours’ advance notification for charter (non-scheduled commercial) flights and 24 hours’ notice for private non-revenue operations. Requests made within the deadline are considered on a case-by-case basis. Once you’ve made a pre-clearance request, U.S. Customs will approve an arrival time but does not offer an "arrival window." If you experience a delay, you’ll need to advise your ground handler, who in turn will notify U.S. Customs, and they will decide if they’ll accept a delayed clearance. If an aircraft arrives early, your ground handler will contact U.S. Customs to determine if pre-clearance time can be moved forward.

04/03/2014: Updated by author

4. Know the pre-clearance process

After arrival in Ireland, passengers and luggage will be escorted to U.S. Customs by the ground handler. Luggage is identified by the passenger/crew member, bar code-tagged, x-rayed and photographed when clearing Customs. During this CBP clearance process, passengers will need to visually ID and confirm their luggage from a visual display unit (VPU) screen in the presence of a CBP officer. One crew member usually remains with the aircraft to oversee fuel, in-flight catering and any scheduled services, while passengers and the rest of the crew clear CIQ. The remaining crew member will be fast-tracked through U.S. Customs once the passengers and other crew return to the aircraft. Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) may remain running during the pre-clearance and aircraft inspection processes, but only if the APU vent is more than 8 feet off the ground. If your APU vent is lower, your ground handler will assist with connecting your aircraft to a ground power unit (GPU).

5. Be aware of U.S. pre-clearance documentation and information requirements

When requesting U.S. Customs pre-clearance, you’ll need to provide requested clearance time, tail number, U.S. Customs decal number, flight itinerary (including all countries visited within 24 hours prior to arrival at Shannon [EINN]), type of flight (private non-revenue or charter), estimated time of arrival at first U.S. port, number of U.S. and non-U.S. citizens onboard and confirmation of your APIS transmission.

6. U.S. Customs pre-clearance is often accomplished within a 60-minute stop at Shannon

While U.S. Customs pre-clearance used to require a 1.5-hour or longer stop at EINN, the process from wheels down to wheels up can now often be accomplished in just 60 minutes. Considering that quick turns at EINN, without U.S. Customs pre-clearance, usually involve about 45 minutes – including fuel uplift and scheduled support services – you may only be on the ground an additional 15 minutes or so when taking advantage of U.S. Customs pre-clearance.

7. Be aware of operating restrictions after U.S. Customs pre-clearance

After pre-clearing at EINN, you may proceed to one of the 200 or so airports in the U.S. capable of accepting and disposing of international trash. The complete list for the U.S. airports of arrival for pre-cleared private aircraft can be found here. After completing U.S. Customs at EINN, your clearance is only valid on a point-to-point basis. You may only proceed to one designated airport after departing EINN. If, for any reason, you have to change your airport of arrival in the U.S., this will void your EINN pre-clearance and require new CIQ clearance on first arrival in the U.S. For example, if you operate from EINN to Newark (KEWR) and divert due to bad weather, then you would have to clear Customs again at the alternate. All crew and passengers must have valid passports and, if required, visas. You may utilize the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) only if the passenger is a national of a country on the approved list, and if the aircraft operator is registered as a VWP signatory carrier. While there’s no limit to the number of onboard passengers/crew members that may pre-clear at EINN, if the count including crew and passengers is over 25, you’ll need to clear in the main terminal rather than the general aviation terminal. This may incur additional charges and time delays.


U.S. Customs pre-clearance at EINN is now a more viable process and one U.S.-bound operators should consider. Coordinate pre-clearance requests with your local ground handler and be aware of lead time and operating hour considerations.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance planning your next trip to Ireland, contact seanraftery@universalaviation.aero.

Later we’ll discuss airport operations and security for Ireland and their impact on your trip.

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