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US to set up border control checks in Brussels Airport

A pre-clearance station in Montreal airport. Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Belgium and the United States are working on a deal to allow passengers departing from Brussels Airport to clear customs and immigration in Brussels to avoid queues upon arrival at their destination.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry and the US Embassy in Belgium signed the agreement on Monday and which still needs to be ratified by the Belgian Parliament before full implementation.

The deal would see a preclearance station set up at Brussels Airport which will allow passengers on flights bound to the US to clear US customs and immigration before boarding their flight in Brussels.

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“With preclearance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in Brussels will conduct the same immigration, customs, and agriculture inspections of international air travellers currently performed upon arrival in the United States,” the foreign affairs ministry said in a press release.

Going through US border controls in Brussels will enable travellers to bypass these checks after landing, allowing them to directly embark a connecting flight or reach their final destination.

No date has been announced for the opening of the preclearance station, which will be reportedly staffed with 30 US customs officials and will be the first of its kind in mainland Europe.

Belgium will be the latest country to set up American border control facilities, first installed in Toronto and currently available in several other Canadian airports as well as in airports in the United Arab Emirates, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Aruba and Ireland.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times