Did you know that when leaving some countries, you go through US customs and immigration at your departure airport? It’s called “Pre-Clearance.”
I first experienced this on a trip to Aruba in 2018. Travelers ending up in the United States go through the American customs and immigration procedures BEFORE their departure.
There are some advantages to this system. You won’t be stuck in those massive lines for immigrations when your plane lands in the USA. There are usually shorter lines at your departure airport than there would be when 10 planeloads of tourists arrive at the same time in the USA and there are only three US Customs officers manning the check in booths.
If you are traveling from one of the pre-cleared countries, you will have to take note. Please get to the airport at least three hours before your flight to allow for the customs process to take place. Your plane will then land at one of the domestic airport gates on its arrival to the USA. That allows you to book tighter connections than you could if you had to go through customs on arrival.
There are currently 16 worldwide airports that do per-clearance. Four more are opening up this year. Read more about the program in the article below. For what it’s worth, I think the program saves travelers a lot of time and hassles. I’m absolutely in favor of its expansion.