Sheboygan has been designated a user fee airport, which is what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection calls smaller airports that aren’t designated as international airports but have been granted permission to allow passengers and aircraft from foreign areas to land, for a fee. Appleton International Airport is the state’s only other user fee airport.
With the new designation, Sheboygan County will build a new $3.7 million customs and visitors center at the airport. Since it is a user fee airport, the county will not pay to run the Customs operations. Instead, users will pay a fee that will cover the cost of a Customs official to process the aircraft, its passengers and cargo. The Kohler Co. has already agreed to pay the annual cost of a U.S. Customs officer to staff the center. Other users of the customs center will also pay a fee to use it.
Last year, then Gov. Scott Walker petitioned the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow the Sheboygan airport to become a user fee facility. Without having a Customs officer on site, international travelers would need to go through customs at another port of entry before arriving in Sheboygan. With Sheboygan County home to several businesses with a strong international presence, including Kohler, Sargento, Bemis Manufacturing, Johnsonville and Acuity Insurance, and the county’s golf courses hosting major international competitions, Walker wrote it made sense for the Sheboygan airport to receive the user fee designation.
The customs station is expected to be in place in time for the 2020 Ryder Cup, which is being played next September at Whistling Straits and features top American and European golfers.