Stockholm will join the ranks of cities where travelers to the U.S. clear U.S. Customs before boarding their flights, and 11 other cities are in negotiations to do the same. It's a security measure, but it's also a convenience for travelers.
Under the program, U.S. Customs officials are stationed at overseas airports and handle clearance there. Up to now, it's mostly happened at 15 airports in Canada and the Caribbean, with Ireland the only exception out of the Americas.
In addition to potentially barring travelers who would not be admitted, it allows travelers to use waiting time before boarding for their processing, instead of going through sometimes endless lines on arrival. An additional benefit: because the flights are pre-cleared, they're not limited to arriving at airports that have Customs facilities. That's how New York's LaGuardia is able to handle flights coming pre-cleared from Toronto.
Stockholm officials signed agreements last week to start the preparations; pre-clearance will open in about 18 months. Other cities now in negotiations include Mexico City, Rome, Edinburgh, Bogota, Milan, Rekyjavik, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo in Brazil, Kansai in Japan and St Martin in the Caribbean.
A side benefit for some Customs and Border Protection agents: a plum assignment to live and work in one of those cities!
Photo: 1 millionth visitor at Pre-Clearance facility in Dublin, Ireland.