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Early next year, all passengers on U.S. bound flights will be able to pre-clear all U.S. security checks before departure through Dublin’s new Terminal 2, Transport minister Noel Dempsey announced Thursday, after meeting with U.S. Homeland Security Janet Napolitano at Dublin Airport.

All passengers passing through Dublin’s new terminal on route to the U.S. will no longer have to undergo customs, immigration or clearance checks upon arrival in America.

Under the new system, passengers from Terminal 2 will be treated as if their flight had originated at a U.S. domestic airport.

Ireland is the first country in Europe to offer this facility, permitting passengers to clear all customs, immigration, agriculture and security checks before departing from Irish soil.

Shannon Airport introduced similar U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities earlier this year. The pre-clearance system now in operation in Shannon and Dublin is the same process that passengers would normally undergo upon arrival at a U.S. airport.

Irish airports had to meet the same security criteria as their American counterparts. Homeland Security will oversee the new procedures at Dublin’s Terminal 2.

"Early next year, when this new pre-clearance facility here in Terminal 2 is opened, all US-bound passengers will benefit from uninterrupted passage through US airports on arrival, saving time and hassle," Mr Dempsey said.

Prior to this only U.S. immigration clearance facilities were available at Dublin airport.

Aer Lingus have welcomed the move and believe that pre-clearance facilities will give Ireland a competitive edge over other hub airports in western Europe.

"In the competitive field of aviation, time means money for airline operators. This agreement could help airline operators save valuable time," Mr Dempsey said.

"Shannon Airport has operated full pre-clearance facilities for all US-bound passengers since March this year. Ireland is the only country outside of the Americas to offer this unique service," he added.

During her tour of the new Terminal in Dublin, Ms Napolitano viewed the pre-clearance facilities. Mr Dempsey described her presence as an "affirmation of the importance that the United States attaches to US pre-clearance from Ireland."

Ms Napolitano has recently spear-headed the controversial introduction of dull-body scanners and pat-downs at U.S. airports.

Overseeing the introduction of the new measures, she said it underscored the commitment to protecting the safety and security of American citizens.