Dublin Airport has changed massively over the last decade.
The opening of Terminal 2 turned the airport into not only Ireland’s main transport hub, but a major carrier and connection between the USA and Europe.
With over 30 million annual fliers walking through the terminals, it’s worth knowing what to expect before you arrive.
Generally, it will take most travellers about 30 minutes to clear customs once they arrive at Dublin Airport.
However, this time can be increased or reduced, depending on several factors. Including where they’re coming from, what time of year they visit Dublin and other factors such as weather or staff shortages (especially in the months directly post Covid-19).
How Long Does it Take to Clear Customs at Dublin Airport?
Before we detail the average 30 minute wait time, remember that this is specifically for customers clearance. This doesn’t include travel to and from the airport, checking in bags, availing of shops and facilities on site, and boarding or existing your plane.
It might sound like common sense, but remember to give yourself plenty of time for departures or connecting flights.
Why does it take 30 minutes?
Dublin is the busiest airport in Ireland. The chances are, if you’re coming into Ireland from another country you will probably arrive via Dublin airport. Therefore, it’s reasonable to expect it to be busy throughout the majority of the year.
Naturally, this volume of travellers needs to be managed and properly cleared both in departures and arrivals.
US Pre-Clearance in Dublin
USA pre-clearance in Dublin is one of the biggest benefits to flying to the United States via Dublin Airport.
Irish passengers traveling to the USA can sort out their customs at Dublin Airport before even leaving Ireland. Located at Terminal two, passengers can pass through US immigration inspections before their departure.
This means they do not need to go through customs when they land in the USA. Handy when you’re itching to explore!
Unfortunately, the same does not work for American passengers visiting Ireland.
For an international flight to USA it’s recommended you arrive and begin your check-in process 3.5 hours before your flight, this includes your pre-clearance inspection.
Why Customs Clearance is Quicker for EU Citizens
As you may be aware, Ireland is part of the European Union, a political block consisting of different member countries within Europe. Ireland is also part of what is known as the “Schengen Area.”
The Schengen Area is a collection of countries that all agreed that citizens from any country are allowed to visit, live, and work in any other country without the need for travel visas or extra documentation. This means someone from Germany can live and work in Ireland. An Irishman can work in France. And a Frenchman can work in Spain.
Because there is no need to sort out visas for people from this area, they will likely be able to pass through customs much more quickly.
For tourists and travellers outside the EU, they can stay in Ireland for up to 90 days as a tourist.
How Busy is Dublin Airport?
As mentioned previously, Dublin is the busiest airport in Ireland. In 2019, it carried 32,907,673 passengers, which averages out to 90,158 daily.
In 2019, Dublin airport had 226,181 plane movements, or approximately 619 daily.
That might sound like a crazy figure, but it’s worth remembering that not all of them were or are passenger flights. Dublin airport also has cargo flights carrying packages from DHL, UPS, FedEx, and other logistics companies.
Despite this, there is still a significant number of passenger flights, so that approximate 30 minute wait time will likely be behind a long line of people who also wish to get through customs as soon as possible…
What are the Busiest Times for Dublin Airport?
As with many airports, the busiest times of the year for Dublin airport are Christmas and the summer holidays.
Naturally there will be a spike around the Christmas period as many of the Irish diaspora return home to visit family and friends.
Throughout the year, the busiest times for Dublin Airport are usually between 12pm and 7pm. Fridays and Saturdays are their most active days in terms of footfall.
On average, you can expect to wait at customs for about 30 minutes at Dublin airport. However, you may find that your actual waiting is much shorter or longer depending on the factors laid out throughout this article.