Taiwan Has Applied For Their Own U.S. Pre-Clearance Facility At Taoyuan Airport

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Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport could soon host it’s very own U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance facility after it was revealed they applied for it in fall of this year.

Following the model in Canada and the Caribbean there have been additional overseas pre-clearance facilities opened in Dublin as well as UAE’s Abu Dhabi airport where all passengers leaving for the U.S. will be processed and then arrive in the U.S. like domestic passengers.

The agreement has yet to be approved by the U.S. government, in particular the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before the facility can be installed and operated.

Information about Taiwan’s application for pre-clearance was revealed by the U.S. Homeland Security Secretary during an event keynote last week.

Taiwan News (in English) as well as Liberty News (in Mandarin) both reported this news last week after details were made public.

Taiwan has applied to offer U.S. customs preclearance at its main airport, and the application is currently under review.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Heritage Foundation on Monday (Dec. 21), U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf revealed that Washington is looking at Taiwan’s application. If given the green light, Taiwan would become the first country in the Asia Pacific to provide preclearance for U.S.-bound passengers, giving them a smoother journey.

Taiwanese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) confirmed the report on Wednesday (Dec. 23) and explained that the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport had filed the application in September, right after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) posted the relevant information online.

She said the Taiwanese government will continue to engage with Washington on the matter.

There are of course multiple layers of consideration when it comes to deeper cooperation with Taiwan and the installation of the Pre-Clearance facility is just a part of it.

Secretary Wolf’s remarks are available on the DHS website under their press releases.

The key note was mainly focused on the threat China poses for the U.S. national security and related law enforcement as well as visa measures:

… Given Beijing’s failure to timely accept return of illegal aliens who have had their day in court and received final orders of removal, I recommended and the State Department has issued visa sanctions on China.

In Fiscal Year 2021, we will be specifically welcoming refugees who are nationals or habitual residents of Hong Kong.

In the travel domain, we are engaging with Taiwan regarding Taipei’s pending application for preclearance for U.S.-bound travelers.

With these actions—and others—we will block China’s exploitation of our border and immigration system. To address the China threat, law enforcement plays a critical role. …

The information about Taiwan’s pending efforts to obtain a pre-clearance station was just slid in between these lines.

There are quite a few daily flights from Taiwan to the U.S. but does that warrant the cost of building and operating a facility there?

The staff (CBP Officers) at these foreign-based Pre-clearance facilities are U.S. citizens who earn a premium for being stationed overseas and they earn a pretty penny for their duties. Usually the host country and the respective airport pays for the operation of such a station.

I’d like to know a bit more about the cost involved and who will end up paying for all this. I can imagine this to be a financial and logistical challenge at Taoyuan International Airport where there are currently two very old Terminals, one from which China Airlines and their SkyTeam partners such as Delta operate. Then another one for EVA Air and Star Alliance.

Both terminals are definitely coming into their years but not only that, having a pre-clearance facility there means that all airlines should use it in order to make it worthwhile. This means the airport needs to designate one part of the terminal (or build a new one) for U.S. departures which is sealed off past the U.S. Immigration checkpoint.

Right now it’s extremely hard to imagine where this area would be located in order to be convenient for both China Airlines (which will possibly be renamed soon to get away from the China moniker) and EVA Air as well as the partner carriers such as Delta and United.

Conclusion

Taiwan is in an advanced application process for receiving their own U.S. Pre-Clearance station which would allow U.S. bound passengers to complete all immigration procedures at the origin and then arrive at the destination as a de facto domestic flights. Passengers would just pick up their bags and leave the airport.

So far I had good experiences with using Preclearance in Canada and Dublin. It’s very convenient to arrive and just leave the airport or take a connection without having the uncertainty if you’re going to make it on time.

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