Shannon U.S. Customs Pre-Clearance – Extended hours coming soon

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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 and just announced extended operating hours, 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

UPDATE! May 23, 2019: Effective June 17, 2019, CBP will be offering extended hours of operation will be available from the 17th of June 2019 and will initially be between the hours of 08:00 to 09:00 and from 17:00 to 21:00 locally. We anticipate pricing information to be announced next week and will update this article once it is official.

Pre-clearance operating hours at EINN are 0900 – 1700 local seven days a week. First available pre-clearance slot is at 0915 local, with the last option being 1600 local. Hours of operation are limited due to limited manpower and budget. A new Bi-Lateral agreement has recently been signed between the U.S and Irish Governments that will allow for the development of USCBP services in Ireland. As a result, one of the key developments for US CBP at Shannon will be the introduction of an on request out of hours CBP pre clearance service for G.A Operators using Shannon. The finer details of this service are currently being formalized between the Shannon Airport Authority and USCBP Shannon and the expected introduction of services is estimated to be in early June 2019.

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),however, all G.A Passengers/Crew clearing in the commercial area are always fast-tracked using a separate Business class line.

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 45-60 minutes including all aircraft services such as fuel etc. Furthermore, some operators report that this time is actually shorter than the time needed to clear at some locations in the U.S. Since July 2017, the use of Mobile Equipment was introduced in Shannon by USCBP which allows for clearances to take place on board the aircraft. In general, this is usually reserved for U.S nationals only and whilst it is something we can request, it is wholly at the discretion of the USCBP Port Director on the day.

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. Pre-clearance setup

Operators may arrange EINN pre-clearance either directly with CBP or by way of their ground handler. CBP mandates initial pre-clearance requests be made by phone. If you work through a ground handler, CBP will e-mail a confirmation, with pre-clearance approval and a time slot, to both you and the ground handler.

8. It’s best to coordinate this with your ground handler

Our recommendation is to coordinate EINN pre-clearance via your ground handler. Have them provide all necessary information to CBP on your behalf as well as assist in updating CBP on any schedule and/or crew/passenger changes. Should your schedule change, and you need to revise a pre-clearance slot, your ground handler will assist with the revision.

9. Revising a pre-clearance

If you need to revise a confirmed pre-clearance, due to schedule/crew/passenger changes, CBP must be notified, and agents will try to accommodate your changes. Should your request for revised pre-clearance fall at a time when CBP is busy with another pre-clearance, authorities have the right to refuse your request. While denial of a pre-clearance schedule change is not common, it’s possible CBP may be unable to accommodate a revised clearance time.

10. Information needed for pre-clearance

To secure a pre-clearance slot, you’ll need to provide a full schedule, CBP decal number, aircraft information, crew and passenger information, visa details, and information on airports to which your aircraft has traveled within the past 24 hours.

11. Visa and ESTA considerations

It’s important that the captain ensure that all passengers – who are not U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, or Canadian nationals – have appropriate visas for entry to the U.S. Passengers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP)-designated countries, with Electronics System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA), may only pre-clear if they’re traveling aboard an aircraft that’s a VWP signatory carrier. If a passenger has an ESTA, rather than a visa, but the aircraft is not on the approved list of signatory carriers, the passenger will be denied entry to the U.S. For more information see our article entitled, “Operating Under the Visa Waiver Program: Top FAQs from Business Aviation Operators.

12. Pre-clearance process

Clearance process at EINN is the same as for CBP clearances stateside, and you must adhere to the same regulations. As with mainland U.S. clearances, you’ll not be able to bring in certain restricted items, and crew members/passengers will be limited to 10,000USD in currency or currency equivalent per person without making additional declarations. After pre-clearance is completed, crew members/passengers will be escorted back to the aircraft by 1) two CBP officers who will inspect the aircraft for departure, 2) a member of the Irish Police Force, and 3) the ground handler.

13. Costs of pre-clearance

Total cost of pre-clearance at EINN is about 300 Euros. Your ground handler can provide a breakdown of these fees. Many business aircraft operators find the pre-clearance fee a small price to pay in order to avoid clearing at some of the more troublesome/slower airports in the U.S. and to take advantage of low fuel prices at EINN.

14. Pre-clearance facilities

When landing at EINN, for a tech stop and CBP pre-clearance, arriving aircraft will be assigned a parking spot, and all services will be performed there. Following a short introduction by your ground handler, all travelers will deplane and be escorted to the USCBP processing area. One crew member will remain on board to oversee the aircraft servicing. It is also advisable that this remaining crew member shall obtain the Oceanic Clearance at this time for departure during this period. Baggage can now remain on board the aircraft. However, all baggage must be visible and accessible to the CBP officers when they are performing their on board checks. If further inspection is required, the baggage will be taken off and inspected planeside.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Baggage identification

In the unlikely event that USCBP require the baggage to be offloaded and inspected at their facility, 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. Airports you may operate to

After you clear at EINN, there are approximately 200 airports in the U.S. to which you may operate. This list of available airports has grown over the years and continues to grow. It’s a strict requirement that you land at an Airport of Entry (AOE) with a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative who’ll remove international waste. Once your EINN pre-clearance has been completed, confirmation of a successful pre-clearance is sent to the captain and your EINN ground handler. A U.S. Department of Agriculture representative, at the scheduled point of arrival stateside, will be notified by CBP to meet your aircraft.

21. You may not change airport of arrival in the U.S.

Once you’ve pre-cleared at EINN, you must operate to your specified/approved airport of entry in the U.S. If for any reason, including operational weather diversions, you elect to land at a different airport, your EINN pre-clearance is no longer valid, and you’ll need to re-clear CBP at an AOE on first landing in the U.S.

Conclusion

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. More and more U.S. airports are accepting operations inbound from CBP pre-clearance at EINN. It’s important to remember that you must continue to one of the approved U.S. mainland airports after the EINN U.S. pre-clearance has been completed as alternatively CBP clearance will need to be repeated at an AOE.

It’s important to ensure that all information needed for a EINN pre-clearance is forwarded to CBP Shannon or your ground handler in advance. Make sure you understand visa requirements, and be sure to update CBP Shannon on any schedule, crew, or passenger changes.

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.


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