January 22, 2021

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Taiwan Applies For US Pre-Clearance Facility

3 min read

Taipei Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan might become the first airport in Asia-Pacific to get a US Pre-Clearance facility.

Taipei Taoyuan may get US Pre-Clearance facility

It’s being reported that Taiwan has applied to offer a US Pre-Clearance facility, offering US immigration screening before passengers board US-bound flights.

US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf revealed this during a virtual event earlier this week, stating that the US is looking at Taiwan’s application. If approved, Taipei Taoyuan Airport would be the first in the region to have such a facility.

The request for such a facility was first filed back in September, though as you’d expect everything is moving a bit slower right now due to coronavirus.

For context, Taipei Taoyuan has nonstop flights to the US on China Airlines, EVA Air, and United Airlines, and as of 2022 we can also expect nonstop flights on Starlux Airlines.

China Airlines operates several routes to the US

It’s important to note that just because an application has been filed doesn’t mean this will actually happen. In the past both Hong Kong International Airport and Seoul Incheon International Airport applied for such facilities, but ultimately abandoned the plans due to logistical challenges, as well as the potentially decreased sales at duty-free shops.

Other airports have plans for these facilities as well, ranging from Bogota to Brussels.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport might get a US Pre-Clearance facility

What exactly is a US Pre-Clearance facility?

For those of you not familiar with US Pre-Clearance facilities, the way this works is that US-bound air passengers clear immigration prior to boarding their flight to the United States.

As someone with Global Entry I selfishly don’t love the concept, since immigration on arrival takes me a few minutes at most. However, I understand the concept in theory:

  • Some US airports have long immigration wait times, so this could reduce some of the burden on US immigration facilities
  • It’s a way of screening high risk passengers before they board flights to the US, which in theory makes more sense than screening them upon arrival
  • The US is one of the few countries in the world without a sterile international transit facility; this means you have to clear US immigration even if you’re only making an international-to-international connection in the US (almost all other countries allow passengers connecting internationally to stay in transit without clearing immigration)

Airports seem to view these facilities as a competitive advantage, marketing it as a way to have a more seamless trip. However, in reality these facilities can often lead to flight delays. If someone needs to go into secondary inspection, then either the plane will be delayed for them or their bags will be offloaded, both of which can be time consuming.

Dublin Airport US Pre-Clearance facility

Bottom line

Taiwan has submitted an application for Taipei Taoyuan Airport to get a US Pre-Clearance facility. Only time will tell if this actually comes to fruition, as we’ve seen all kinds of airports state their intent to get one of these facilities, only for it not to happen.

Personally I’m not a fan of the US Pre-Clearance system, so I hope this doesn’t happen. With features like Global Entry and Mobile Passport, many of the pain-points of the immigration process can be minimized. That being said, I recognize that some people feel differently.

Would you like to see TPE get a US Pre-Clearance facility?

(Tip of the hat to Curtis)

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