Your guide to US preclearance when flying from LCY

Heading to the USA? Here’s everything you need to know about preclearance in Dublin.

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But what if you could clear immigration checks before you've even set foot in the US? Well, fly to the USA from London City Airport via Dublin and you can. Thanks to Dublin Airport's dedicated US preclearance facility, you can complete all the checks you need to enter the USA before you board your flight. That means that instead of stepping off a long-haul flight into a lengthy immigration queue, you can go straight where you’re going with no waiting around. Skip the queue, grab your bag and go. That’s a very big plus, and it’s available for a large number of transatlantic routes from LCY. If you’re thinking of heading to the USA, here’s everything you need to know about preclearance.

Accessing US preclearance from London City Airport

Aer Lingus's recently launched service from London City Airport to Dublin Airport, which began operation in October 2018, means business and leisure passengers setting off from the UK capital can take advantage of the time-saving service. Simply take a flight from London City to Dublin, visit US Preclearance during your transfer, and relax on your trip across the Atlantic. When you land in the US, you'll avoid the queue for immigration; head straight for baggage reclaim, then you’re on your way.

What is US preclearance?

When you enter the USA you have to undergo a series of checks – immigration, customs and agriculture inspections. Normally this happens at your destination airport in the US. However, Dublin is one of a very small number of airports outside the US where you can undergo all these checks before you board your flight. Dublin Airport has a dedicated preclearance facility in terminal 2, where US border officers check all the necessary documentation before you board. Once you’re through, you’ve been admitted into the US before you board your flight. That means no checks are needed when you land in the US.

How US preclearance works

To undertake preclearing, you’ll be on a flight from London City Airport to the USA, transferring in Dublin. When you land in Dublin, head to the preclearance facility. Here you’ll complete TSA security screening at one of the 18 self–service kiosks. At this point you’ll have your photo taken, passport scanned, and fingerprints checked. If approval is granted you’ll then get a receipt – the whole process usually takes 80 seconds. To complete preclearance, you then present your receipt, passport and boarding pass to a US preclearance officer for a brief inspection. All of this assumes you have an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization, the most common entry documentation for short-term business and leisure travellers from the UK).

What are the benefits of preclearance?

Completing preclearance in Dublin allows you to cut out potential queues on arrival in the US, making sure you don’t face a lengthy wait after landing. And if you are connecting to an onward flight in North America, your bags are also automatically checked through to the end destination, which avoids the need to go through another luggage check-in when transferring. Without preclearance, you’d have to check in a second time.

Common questions about preclearance from London City Airport

Where is the US preclearance facility?

Dublin Airport has one of the very few preclearance facilities that allow you to clear US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checks outside the USA. The purpose-built screening centre is downstairs in the Departures lounge at Dublin Airport's Terminal 2.

How much time can preclearance save?

When you undertake preclearance before boarding your flight to the US, you can save over two hours' travel time in by completing immigration, customs and agriculture inspections while you’d only be waiting for your flight anyway, instead of waiting to do them after landing.

How long does preclearance take?

For US citizens, it takes approximately 40 seconds to complete preclearance checks at a self-service kiosk. Checks for other passengers, including UK travellers, take around 80 seconds, assuming you have an ESTA.

Are the preclearance kiosks available in a variety of languages?

Yes, you can choose which language you want to receive instructions in when visiting a self-service kiosk at the US preclearance facility. The US CBP currently lists these as English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

At what stage do I visit preclearance?

US preclearance checks take place once you have checked in and cleared normal security checks at Dublin Airport. If you want to undergo preclearance you should make your way to the screening facility in the Departures lounge.

Do food items need to be presented at preclearance?

Yes. There are restrictions on food items that can be taken into the US, and this includes items that can be bought in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport prior to screening. You should declare all food items, carry them in hand luggage and present them for inspection at the US preclearance facility.

Are there any other checks to be aware of?

If you’re travelling to the US you’ll probably need to apply for travel authorisation – in most cases that means an ESTA under the US Visa Waiver Programme, which you’ll need to complete more than 72 hours before you fly (see the US Government site for more information and to apply). You’ll need an approved ESTA to board any flight to the US – an ESTA is valid for up to two years and multiple entries but doesn’t guarantee admission to the country.

Can I undertake preclearance at London City Airport?

Currently you can’t undertake preclearance screening at London City Airport, but you can take a short flight from LCY to Dublin, with a choice of flight times several times a day. You can check in at London City Airport up to 30 minutes before your flight. During your transfer in Dublin, you can visit the US preclearance facility to prepare for your arrival in the US.