One of the worst parts of international air travel is coming back home. And by that, I don’t even mean the fact that your international adventure is over. (Although, let’s be real. That isn’t easy, either.) No, what I mean is that you arrive back in the United States only to stand in line for who knows how long, reeling from jetlag, in order to clear customs and immigration.
But international travelers flying into the United States from Dublin are required to complete Dublin Airport US Preclearance. You read that right: air travelers pass through United States customs and immigration before even leaving Ireland…or even Europe! While Dublin preclearance still requires you to wait in line, it gets the immigration check out of the way early.
This is especially relevant to travelers taking advantage of direct flights to Dublin with Aer Lingus. Let me tell you, there is no better feeling than arriving at your home airport after hours on an international flight and being able to simply go home without any extra checks. While this guide is generally for those with US citizenship, it also applies to international visitors, too.
How Does Dublin Airport US Preclearance Work?
The first check is Dublin Airport security. There are two possibilities when it comes to Dublin Airport US preclearance. The first is that you are making a connection in Dublin (for example, Edinburgh to Dublin to Boston) while the other is that you are flying directly to the US from Dublin (Dublin to Philadelphia).
If you are flying directly from Dublin without any connections, you will first need to go through standard airport security. If you are connecting via Dublin, you will already be past security when you arrive in the Irish capital city.
Flights bound for the United States are segregated in an area of the airport that is only reachable by passing through US preclearance. This is the second stage of security.
Once through Dublin Airport security, be sure to check the electronic signs for preclearance status. In order to control the crowds, preclearance opens piecemeal to flights. Flights leaving soon will likely have a status like “Go to US Preclearance” while later flights may state that preclearance doesn’t open until a specific time.
Once preclearance is open for your flight and you have passed through standard airport security, simply follow signs for US preclearance which will lead you downstairs at the airport.
There are two components to Dublin Airport US Preclearance.
The first is another security check nearly identical to the standard airport security check. An official will review your passport and boarding pass then you will go through a metal detector. Your carry on luggage will go through a scan, too. Depending on current guidance, you may need to remove your shoes or your liquids from your carry on.
From there, you enter the second and final part of US Preclearance for processing with customs and immigration. US citizens form one line and those without citizenship are sent to another. The line for citizens is generally longer. If you have Global Entry, you can simply skip the lines and use the kiosks set along the back wall to verify your identity. Then you can use a dedicated line for Global Entry to review your travels with an official.
For those without Global Entry, you will need to wait for an official. The review with the official is just like it would be if you were arriving Stateside. The official will likely ask you about yourself (i.e. your occupation), where you have been traveling, and what items you are bringing with you to the United States.
And that’s it. You have completed Dublin US Preclearance.
Benefits of Dublin Airport US Preclearance
I like the benefits Dublin preclearance offers, namely not having to fill out the paperwork on the plane and being able to walk right off the plane and back into the airport. Consider that your home airport is likely dealing with far more international flights simultaneously than at Dublin Airport. This means the line for customs and immigration is probably longer at home.
But US Preclearance in Dublin takes some time. Alternatively, if your flight connection is in the United States, you can rest assured you have one less thing to deal with. One less obstacle to you missing your flight.
In my experience, going through US Preclearance is stressful but orderly. As with most things, waiting is the hardest part and the line tends to be rather long. Unfortunately, the only thing that will help is patience.
Sure, going through clearance at home and using an app like Mobile Passport or being enrolled in Global Entry is an option. But it still means you have hoops to jump through upon arrival with a potential queue time when you’re tired and ready to just go home.
There are a few things to keep in mind when going through preclearance. The current recommendation is to allow three hours for US Preclearance at Dublin Airport. Be sure to consider that when booking flights if you are connecting via Dublin.
Lounge & Shops after US Preclearance at Dublin Airport
If you plan to get through security and preclearance then relax and get something to eat, you may be disappointed. There are a few shops with souvenirs and food shops after US Preclearance at Dublin Airport, but it is really quite limited. If you are planning to eat, my advice is to eat before arriving at the airport or before clearing immigration.
For those flying business class, there is a complimentary lounge located after US Preclearance. Called 51st&Green, the lounge offers a spot to refuel and relax prior to your flight with WiFi, food and drink, luggage storage, and showers. If you aren’t flying business class, you can still access the lounge for a fee.
(Reserving your admission to the lounge online is slightly cheaper than walk-up admission.) The lounge is open from the first US flight until the last US flight of the day.