UPDATE: Aruba Pre-Clearance – Now a Reality for General Aviation

PT 4 M minute read

In mid-March 2014, preclearance of General Aviation (GA) began at Aruba (TNCA). This will be the second location worldwide with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) preclearance services for GA. The other available location, Shannon (EINN), inaugurated GA preclearance in March of 2010.

The following is an overview of what you need to know about preclearance services for GA at Aruba:

1. Status of Aruba preclearance

On May 22, 2008 the Department of Homeland Security and the Aruban government amended the existing 1994 Preclearance Agreement to include a provision for expansion of preclearance services to GA. Commencement of GA operation preclearance at TNCA began on March 20, 2014. CBP GA aircraft preclearance processing is only currently available at EINN and TNCA. This is essentially the same inspection that a traveler would experience at a U.S. port of entry, but it’s completed on foreign soil. Preclearance includes full inspection of documents, baggage, and agricultural items prior to aircraft departure. All laws and regulations for entering the U.S. apply.

2. Preclearance is available to both private non-revenue and charter flights

For a GA preclearance request, maximum passenger/crew capacity of the aircraft may not exceed 19. The majority of preclearance conditions established for private non-revenue aircraft also extend to charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations. Preclearance of charter aircraft, however, will be approved on a case-by-case basis. All passengers and crew meeting standard documentary requirements for entering the U.S. on private and charter aircraft may be precleared at TNCA. The U.S.-Aruba preclearance is not available for cargo or military aircraft.

3. Program conditions

For preclearance of private and charter flights, operators must request and be approved for preclearance services at least 24 hours in advance of departure and before close of business the previous day. Electronic Advance Passenger Information System (eAPIS) must be submitted no later than 60 minutes prior to inspection start time. All personal effects must be removed from the aircraft for clearance, along with passengers/crew, at the CBP facility which is at the general aviation terminal. Ensure that all servicing of your aircraft is completed prior to the physical CBP inspection. It’s necessary to comply with all CBP requirements as indicated on www.cbp.gov and in the “CBP Preclearance of General Aviation Summary Guide.”

4. Preclearance hours of operation

Preclearance of GA aircraft at TNCA is available seven days a week from 0800-1600 EST (0900-1700 EDST) or as determined by preclearance service hours indicated by Universal Aviation Aruba and the Aruba Airport Authority.

5. Steps to obtain CBP GA preclearance

Requests for preclearance may be made by the operator directly or via a 3rd-party representative, such as an agent or ground handler. The following information should be included in your preclearance request:

  • Requested date and time of the preclearance appointment – Local and ZULU times.
  • Tail number – Generally the number permanently affixed to the tail of the aircraft.
  • Decal number – The number of the CBP Annual User Fee decal affixed to the aircraft (private aircraft only).
  • Flight itinerary – Including the U.S. airport of arrival and any foreign airports visited within the previous 24 hours. The U.S. airport of arrival must have an approved compliance agreement to handle international regulated garbage. A list of these airports can be found at www.cbp.gov.
  • Estimated time of arrival – The estimated time of arrival in to the predetermined U.S. port of arrival.
  • Estimated time of departure – The estimated time of departure from the preclearance processing location.
  • Number of travelers onboard
  • Number of U.S. citizens onboard
  • APIS transmission received by CBP (Y/N) – Has an APIS manifest been transmitted to CBP at the time of the request for services? Services will not be provided without an APIS manifest submission.
  • Pilot (and/or representative, if applicable) contact information – information includes name, telephone number, and e-mail address.

6. Preclearance must be point-to-point

It should be noted that CBP only performs point-to-point preclearance. GA aircraft are precleared from a CBP preclearance location to a specific, designated airport approved and capable of handling and processing international garbage, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After all preclearance steps have been completed, the aircraft is cleared for immediate departure from the CBP preclearance location for direct arrival at the specified/approved CBP port of entry. Unauthorized diversions from the point-to-point flight description outlined in APIS are not allowed.

7. You must land at a designated airport stateside

As indicated in Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 122.32, CBP has the authority to limit the locations where aircraft entering the U.S. from a foreign area may land. As such, precleared aircraft must land at the airport designated in their APIS transmission, unless instructed otherwise by CBP or changes to the airport designation are required for aircraft and/or airspace safety as directed by the Federal Aviation Administration flight services. The coordinated CBP preclearance process serves to grant the operator permission to land and/or landing rights, as applicable or required. The list of U.S. airports eligible for arrival of precleared GA flights can be found on the CBP site at “U.S. Airports of Arrival for Precleared Private Aircraft.”

8. Disposal of international trash

CBP agriculture specialists at the arrival port of entry will coordinate with the crew and/or the fixed-base operator to ensure compliance with proper procedures for handling, removal, and processing of international regulated garbage.

9. Pets may also preclear at this location

Pet dogs, cats, and birds are eligible for preclearance services at TNCA. They must have a health certificate, including rabies vaccination information, and must be free of sickness or other health anomalies. Note that passengers with live birds must have a completed Veterinary Services (VS) permit and must have an inspection of the bird(s) scheduled by VS at the port of destination. This permit, a VS Form 17-135, must accompany the bird at time of inspection.


The CBP preclearance location at TNCA manages the entire point-to-point preclearance procedure. Throughout the preclearance process, effective communication is critical. It’s important to ensure that you’ve provided sufficient lead time for your preclearance request, along with all required information, and that you operate to a designated/approved airport in the U.S.


If you have any questions about this article or would like assistance arranging your Aruba preclearance, contact me at lauraeverington@univ-wea.com.

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