U.S. expanding international airport preclearance program

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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Friday that it has selected 11 international airports in nine countries for a possible expansion of its U.S. preclearance program to reduce delays and help passengers make connecting U.S. flights.

The program allows travelers to undergo immigration, customs, and agriculture inspection by U.S. Customs before boarding a flight to the United States rather than upon arrival.

The new airports selected to potentially take part are El Dorado International Airport in Bogota; Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires; Scotland’s Edinburgh Airport; Keflavik International Airport in Iceland; Mexico City International Airport; Italy’s Milan-Malpensa Airport; Kansai International Airport in Osaka; Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport; Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport; São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, and Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Maarten.

More than 10 million travelers fly to the United States from these airports annually.

In May 2015, the U.S. identified 10 airports in nine countries as possible participants in the program, including Stockholm Arlanda Airport. On Friday, the United States and Sweden signed an agreement to implement preclearance operations at the airport as early as 2019.

The United States expects to announce final agreements with others that were named in a 2015 expansion round.

The U.S. currently has 15 airport preclearance locations in six countries: Aruba; Freeport and Nassau, the Bahamas; Bermuda; Calgary, Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, and Winnipeg; Dublin and Shannon, Ireland; and Abu Dhabi. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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