When you travel by plane, you will encounter a number of security filters designed to keep travelers safe. The various clearance areas are in place to ensure that each traveler has valid travel documents, does not possess and dangerous objects, and to verify their criminal record. When an officer inspects your passport and asks your reasons for traveling to the US, this is done during the pre-clearance stage. By doing so, these initial officers help the entire process run smoothly when it comes to boarding.
Pre-clearance helps keep the process more streamlined by allowing passengers to disembark, collect their bags and be on their way without having to wait in a long line upon arrival. That said, you still have to wait in line, but at least you are waiting at the start of your journey and not at the end! After flying for several hours, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand in line.
After making your way through the pre-clearance check point, you will still be subject to inspection once you land on US soil. This is at the discretion of the customs officials, and they do perform random checks as part of their daily routine.
If you are a US passport holder or if the US is not your final destination, you will still be expected to complete the pre-clearance procedure. There is no way around this safety precaution. If the US is not your final destination and you have checked your luggage, it’s good to note that your luggage is usually sent straight on to the final destination. In most cases, you will not be required to collect your bags in the US. This really helps speed things along, and you don’t have to stand in line again to check your bags. However, in some cases, you might be required to collect your luggage, and this should always be confirmed during luggage check in.
Remember to always arrive early for all flights since the pre-clearance process can take time and there might be unexpected delays. You can ask your travel agent or the airline for more information on how early you should arrive. Usually, at least two hours is needed to ensure that you don’t miss your flight.
Finally, don’t forget that you will need a waiver in order to enter the US if you have a criminal record. Without the proper documentation, your entry can easily be denied upon departure or even when you arrive at the border control in the US. Contact Federal Pardon Waiver Services at 1 (800) 543- 2137 for professional assistance obtaining a waiver.