According to printed reports in airline industry publications and El Tiempo, outgoing US Ambassador Kevin Whittaker announced that before the end of next year, Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport will have a US Immigration Pre-Clearance Facility. Such facilities are currently only found in a few countries such as The Bahamas, Ireland, Aruba, Bermuda, Canada and Abu Dhabi.
Colombian president Ivan Duque confirmed the same separately earlier this year. Should the project be implemented, Colombia will be one of less than 10 countries currently offering the travel protocol.
When a US Pre-Clearance facility is in a foreign airport, travelers clear US customs and immigration at the airport of departure. When the airline flight lands in the US, travelers disembark in a domestic gate and have no customs or immigration hassles to deal with. If there are any problems or irregularities, they are dealt with before boarding, before departure. This insures a more streamlined, pleasant travel experience. Travelers arrive in the US and are free to go. No immigration, no customs.
“There will be a preclearance facility in Colombia with representatives from my customs and immigrations service. This is very important, and President Duque and I are very interested in this issue,” says Whitaker. “We already started the process. I wanted this to be done during my stay here, but it couldn’t happen in time. But within a year or year and a half, it will exist.”