Have you heard of the Global Entry program operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)? If you are one of the 100,000 U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are members, then congratulations to you. If you are one of the millions of international travelers who do not like to wait in long lines at U.S. Customs when arriving at an airport in the United States after a long intercontinental flight, I have got a deal for you.
Global Entry is a voluntary pilot program that streamlines the international arrivals process for pre-approved travelers through use of self-service kiosks located at 20 major U.S. airports. For good reason, CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin described the Global Entry program as "excellent" in a December 27, 2010 press release.
Applications to Global Entry first must be submitted online at www.globalentry.gov . It costs only $100 for a five year membership. I completed the on-line application in about 5 minutes, and was notified by email the next day that I was conditionally approved. Applicants must then complete an interview and fingerprint data collection in person at any of the 20 airport sites. I am scheduled to be interviewed on February 22, 2011 at Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Once enrolled in the pilot program, Global Entry members may proceed directly to the kiosks in the international arrivals area upon arrival in the U.S. At the kiosk, members insert their passport or lawful permanent resident card into a document reader, provide digital fingerprints for comparison with fingerprints on file, answer customs declaration questions on the kiosk’s touch-screen, and then present a transaction receipt to CBP officers before leaving the inspection area.
From what I have heard from fellow frequent international travelers who use Global Entry, and from my friends at CBP, joining Global Entry appears to be the right choice. I’ll keep you updated on my personal experience on Global Entry.