U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance of Americans headed home from the island of St. Martin is planned to begin next year at Princess Juliana Airport on the Dutch side of the island, according to Marla Chermont, marketing assistant with the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

Chermont said that the preclearance system was slated to be in operation by the end of 2020, although a specific timeline was not given.

The program allows travelers to undergo immigration, customs and agricultural inspection by U.S. Customs officials before boarding a flight to the U.S., rather than on arrival.

Princess Juliana airport is still in the reconstruction phase following damage from Hurricane Irma. The departure and arrival halls are in temporary quarters on the ground floor of the terminal building, but the departure hall will be permanently moved to the upper level of the terminal building when the roof reconstruction is finished.

Preclearance is already in operation at airports in Aruba, Bermuda and on Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas, and it is in development for Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

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