U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) signed a new Preclearance agreement with The Bahamas, modernizing travel between the neighboring countries.
The signing took place Feb. 5 during a ceremony in Nassau. The new agreement was signed by CBP Office of Field Operations (OFO) Executive Assistant Commissioner Diane J. Sabatino and Foreign Minister of The Bahamas Fredrick A. Mitchell, and replaces the 50-year-old Preclearance agreement, which pre-dates the formation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and CBP.
“This agreement advances our mutual security cooperation and commemorates 50 years of Preclearance operations in The Bahamas,” CBP’s Acting Executive Assistant Commissioner for Field Operations Diane J. Sabatino said during the ceremony. “Today signifies an important milestone in our close partnership as we establish a modernized framework for Preclearance border security operations, enhancing our economic partnership through increased travel and an improved passenger experience.”
Preclearance operations started in The Bahamas in 1974, making it one of 15 locations in six countries offering Preclearance, along with Aruba, Bermuda, Canada, Ireland, and the United Arab Emirates. The program enables CBP officers to perform the same immigration, customs, and agriculture clearances typically done upon arrival in the United States before international travelers depart from certain foreign airports, enabling them to travel to the United States without a visa. After landing at a U.S. port of entry, the passengers save time by avoiding CBP inspections and may continue to their destinations as if they arrived on a domestic flight.
“The agreement is an achievement for both countries, further strengthening our relations, security, and ease of access for both countries,” said Hon. Frederick A. Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs in The Bahamas.
Usha Pitts, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in The Bahamas, took the signing ceremony as an opportunity to congratulate The Bahamas on welcoming a record 9 million tourists, mostly U.S. citizens, in 2023.
“Eighty percent of the tourists who come here are Americans,” Pitts said. “It’s wonderful for me to see my compatriots come flooding in and enjoying this beautiful country. Preclearance makes it a lot easier for everyone to get back and forth. It’s a wonderful, unique agreement that just makes both of our lives easier.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.