Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance: Part 3 – Pre-Clearance Process

PT 3 M minute read
Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance: Part 3 – Pre-Clearance Process

This business aviation blog post is part of a series on pre-clearing U.S. customs in Ireland and continues from our last article: "Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance: Part 2 – Setting Up Pre-Clearance."

For business aircraft operators pre-clearing U.S. Customs at Shannon (EINN), it’s important to be aware of all aspects of the process prior to landing in order to avoid day-of-operation surprises and to ensure that the pre-clearance goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. Be aware that EINN pre-clearance is never accomplished onboard an aircraft – even for passengers with disabilities.

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

1. Pre-clearance facilities

When landing at EINN, for a tech stop and CBP pre-clearance, all crew members and passengers must get off the aircraft and proceed to the pre-clearance area – a one- to two-minute bus/shuttle ride. All luggage is deplaned and screened, and your ground handler will assist with coordinating this process. It’s permitted and recommended that one pilot stay with the aircraft during ground servicing process and pre-clear CBP after the passengers. Be aware that there’s no dedicated customs ramp at EINN. Arriving aircraft will be assigned a parking spot, and all services will be performed there.

2. Security screening

When arriving at the terminal for pre-clearance, crew members/passengers undergo standard security screening. Passengers/crew members are screened with a metal detector while luggage goes through x-ray and radiation screening. Security screening takes approximately five minutes in the VIP screening area but usually takes a little longer if you’re clearing on the commercial side – depending on volume of scheduled commercial traffic. It’s important to note that liquids over 100 ml should not be carried in hand luggage. Larger volumes of liquids should either be left onboard or packed in non-carryon luggage that will be stored in the hold area of the aircraft during flight.

3. Pre-clearance documentation

Customs declarations need to be filled out by each passenger, and it’s best that this is done in advance. I-94 forms no longer need to be completed by hand as they’re available online. These should be completed in advance by the passengers.

4. Baggage identification

It’s best to prominently ID each bag with visible tags and ensure that the traveler’s name is clearly printed on them. After luggage is removed from the aircraft and taken to CBP, passengers/crew members will need to identify their baggage when clearing CIQ. All baggage is scanned, screened, and photographed in accordance with CBP-mandated requirements. A computerized image of the luggage will then be shown to passengers during CBP pre-clearance, and the U.S. customs agent will require the traveler to declare that the image shown is in fact his/her item of luggage. To this end operators may request two-dimensional bar code luggage tags from their ground handler in advance and place them on all luggage prior to arrival at EINN. This will cut down on time involved in the luggage-matching process. For more information contact your ground handler.

5. APUs may be kept running

When pre-clearance at EINN was initiated back in 2010, it was necessary to shut down Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) during the clearance process. This policy has changed. Operators may now leave APUs running – thereby allowing all aircraft systems to remain ready for a no-delay departure – but only if the APU intake/exhaust is at least eight feet above ground. During the pre-clearance process, aircraft services – fueling, lav service, in-flight catering, etc. – may be performed while passengers, crew members, and luggage clear in the terminal.

6. Remaining overnight at EINN

Some operators prefer to overnight at EINN prior to pre-clearing CBP. After an overnight stop at EINN, passengers will be taken directly to CBP for U.S. Customs pre-clearance. Crews typically arrive at the airport about two hours prior to the estimated time of departure, and this is sufficient as the pre-clearance process is short.

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

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


There are steps operators can take to ensure the pre-clearance process goes as quickly as possible: Always pre-organize your hand luggage to ensure you do not to have any liquid quantities of more than 100 ml and always provide prominent IDs or customized bar codes for all pieces of luggage.


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 the U.S. CBP post-clearance procedures in Shannon.

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