The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the publication of a final rule that would establish Global Entry—a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) voluntary initiative, which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.
DHS says the move will streamline the international arrivals and admission process at airports for trusted travelers through biometric identification—as a permanent program.
“Global Entry expedites the customs and security process for trusted air travelers through biometric verification, while helping DHS ensure the safety of all airline passengers,” said Secretary Napolitano. “Making Global Entry permanent will improve customer service at airports across the country and enable law enforcement to focus on higher-risk travelers.”
Global Entry—currently available at 20 U.S. international airports—allows pre-approved members a streamlined, automated alternative to regular passport processing lines. The program currently reduces average wait times by more than 70 percent, with more than 75 percent of travelers using Global Entry processed in under five minutes, DHS said.
The final rule, published today, sets forth federal regulations that replaces the current pilot with a permanent Global Entry program. The final rule provides CBP with the ability to more readily expand the program to additional U.S. international airports.
In addition, age eligibility criteria have changed to allow more families to enjoy the benefits of the program. Persons under the age of 18 who meet the general eligibility criteria and have the consent of a parent or legal guardian will now be eligible to participate in Global Entry.
Those members currently participating in the pilot will not experience a break in membership or need to re-apply when the program becomes permanent. Members currently participating in the pilot will have their time credited to the five year membership as proposed in the rule, DHS says.
At Global Entry kiosks, 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 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers before leaving the inspection area.
To date, DHS says, there have been approximately 1.8 million admissions with Global Entry by more than 260,000 members and more than 1 million trusted travelers receive Global Entry benefits. The program is available to U.S. citizens and U.S lawful permanent residents, as well as Mexican nationals.
Citizens of the Netherlands may also apply under a special reciprocal arrangement that links Global Entry with the Dutch Privium program in Amsterdam. Canadian citizens and residents may participate in Global Entry through membership in the NEXUS program.
The U.S. Travel Association applauded the DHS move.
"Expanding and making the Global Entry Program permanent is a huge victory for 1.3 million travelers who, thanks to the program, experience less hassle when traveling to the United States," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We commend the Administration for this action, and we will work with CBP to urge more travelers to enroll in the program to enjoy its benefits.
Global Entry has been a priority for U.S. Travel since 2007, Dow said, when it championed legislation that created the pilot program. Since then, U.S. Travel has advocated successfully for the program to be integrated with PreCheck, the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) trusted traveler program.
Today's final rule expands the program to airports in Minneapolis, Charlotte, Denver and Phoenix, making the Global Entry program permanent and expedited clearance available to 97 percent of international travelers to the U.S.
"The impact of a program like Global Entry on U.S. destinations, and particularly in the meetings industry, is significant," said Dow. "Those who regularly travel enjoy fewer burdens thanks to Global Entry, making it more likely they will attend meetings and conventions in the U.S. Adding to current program participants Canada, Mexico, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, U.S. Travel urges CBP to quickly expedite bilateral agreements with South Korea, Singapore and Germany."
Global Entry Program Facts: More than 327,000 members; More than one million trusted travelers have Global Entry benefits; 131 Global Entry kiosks at 20 airports; Since the program's launch, members have used Global Entry kiosks more than 1.8 million times, saving CBP officers more than 36,450 inspection hours.