One Less Headache for International Travelers?

With the expansion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Global Entry program, international travelers entering the U.S. could save a little time upon re-entry. But it doesn't come without costs.

If you do a lot of international travel—say, to meetings abroad—this might be welcome news for you.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program provides a path for frequent (or even infrequent) international travelers to avoid a complicated check-in upon re-entry into the country. And the program was just expanded to allow more trusted nations to take part. More details below:

The perks: Global Entry, which has been around as a pilot program since 2008, allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers making international trips to use automated kiosks to do a customs check upon return into the United States, avoiding what can be a time-consuming re-entry process. Though the program is designed for frequent pond-hoppers, other travelers also can take advantage of it. Those who sign up for the program get a domestic benefit as well—automatic sign-up in the TSA PreCheck program, which allows them to skip long lines during security checks. Although there’s a nonrefundable $100 fee to apply for the Global Entry program, membership lasts for five years—which means that if you travel enough, the cost over time is minimal.

The downside: Expect to offer up a lot of information to the federal government before being approved. Applicants have to go through a background check, offer up their fingerprints, and go through an interview with U.S. Customs. And even if you’re approved, there’s still a chance that you could face further examination upon re-entry, much like any other passenger.

The expansion: Global Entry pre-approval originally was available only for U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and some citizens of the Netherlands, Canada, and Mexico. According to The New York Times, recent changes have broadened the program’s scope to international travelers from more countries, including the United Kingdom, Qatar, Germany, and South Korea. The U.S. program also works in tandem with similar streamlined programs in South Korea and Germany.

The expansion was welcomed by the U.S. Travel Association, whose president and CEO, Roger Dow, said the program could help ease international travel for everyone. “Expanding Global Entry to more travelers from key allied nations will strengthen United States aviation security while improving the efficiency of the U.S. entry process for all travelers,” he said in a press release.

Are you currently taking part in the Global Entry program? If so, tell us about your experience below.

(photo by CBP Photography/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!