Immigration Preclearance for people going to the United States is available in the Republic of Ireland. This is the only European country which features the service. How it works is that airline passengers go through immigration formalities before they depart and once this is completed, you fly across the Atlantic and arrive in the USA essentially as a domestic passenger, resulting in a fast and painless arrival experience.
The worst thing when arriving in another country is having to endure the long line at immigration. Invariably I am tired and the last thing I want to do is to deal with surly immigration officials. The first time I arrived in Europe was at London Heathrow Terminal 4 and I waited two hours after my flight landed to see an immigration officer. Hell!
When going to the USA I get grilled like the foreigner I am. “How much money do you have?”, “Where are you staying?”, “Why are you here?”, “When are you leaving?”, “Do you have a return ticket?” and the list goes on and on. Once I was asked, “Which side of Australia is Sydney on?” and the same officer asked, “Have you ever eaten crumpets?”. I thought that was bizarre but the officer told me he had been to Australia, had crumpets and liked them so thought to throw that in for fun. Fun! Really?
Processing the formalities before your flight is much better. You are not tired and are usually in a much better mood as you are anticipating the forthcoming trip. The immigration agents in Dublin and Shannon seem to be much happier than their stateside counterparts, probably as they are on secondment in a foreign country.
An unanticipated benefit is that it takes away the slight niggle in the back of your mind that you might get turned away at the border. What an embarrassment that would be!
If you haven’t guessed, I am a big fan of US Immigration Preclearance. A lot of passengers from Europe use Ireland as a connecting point when crossing the Atlantic for this very reason. The plan is to expand this into other countries in Europe but this will take several years as the airports will need the associated infrastructure constructed. For now, Ireland stands alone! Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.