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Fast-Track Arrival Options Around the World

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We here at TPG love anything that speeds up the travel process, like Global Entry and TSA Precheck — and we want you to be aware that US citizens have similar options outside of the United States. TPG International Contributor Lori Zaino guides us through some ways to expedite security, immigration and customs when traveling abroad.  

These programs can help speed up your international arrivals. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Global Entry — United States

Global Entry, the US government’s expedited immigration program for pre-approved, low-risk frequent international travelers, costs $100 to apply and is valid for five years upon acceptance. You can complete the online application here, and be prepared to provide a list of the foreign countries you’ve visited in recent years, as well as your prior addresses.

Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll be prompted to pay a non-refundable application fee of $100. Acceptable forms of payment are credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), money order, or certified/cashier’s check. Several credit cards offer GOES application fee reimbursements, such as the Platinum Card from American Express, Amex Platinum Mercedes-Benz, The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN and Centurion cards and the Citi Thank You Prestige card.

No, seriously — what ARE you waiting for? Global Entry is fantastic.

Some elite flyers also have access to Global Entry reimbursements. If you’re a Delta Diamond Medallion or a Delta Platinum Medallion member, you can select Global Entry as one of your Choice Benefits (two $100 vouchers for Diamond, one $100 voucher for Platinum).

Once you’ve been conditionally approved, you can schedule an interview at one of the enrollment centers located throughout the US. Please note that if you are not approved, you won’t get your $100 back.

During the interview, you’ll be fingerprinted and once you’ve been officially approved, you can start using the benefits immediately. You will also get a KTN, a Known Traveler Number, which can be valid for TSA Precheck if you enter it into your frequent flyer mile accounts. For more information on this process, read this post.

Nexus is for travelers who frequently go between the US and Canada.
Nexus is for travelers who frequently go between the US and Canada.

Nexus — Canada/US

This program allows citizens or permanent residents of the United States or Canada who pass criminal history and law enforcement checks to travel between these two countries and fast-track through security and customs lines. Program members use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports. NEXUS members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.

Apply by paying a non-refundable application fee of $50 US by direct debit from a US bank account or credit card via the Global Online Enrollment System. Qualified applicants are required to travel to a NEXUS Enrollment Center for an interview (there are locations throughout the northern US and Canada). If you’re approved for the program, a photo identification card will be mailed to you in 7-10 business days. NEXUS members who are US citizens, US Lawful Permanent Residents or Canadian citizens are also eligible for TSA Precheck.

SENTRI is available to US citizens/residents traveling back to the US from Canada and Mexico. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
SENTRI is available to US citizens/residents traveling back to the US from Canada and Mexico. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) — US/Mexico/Canada

SENTRI provides expedited processing for US citizens/US lawful residents coming back into the United States typically traveling over borders by land, coming from Mexico or Canada. SENTRI users have access to specific, dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land borders. SENTRI members may also use the NEXUS lanes when entering the US from Canada and are also able to use Global Entry kiosks and are eligible for TSA Precheck.

In order to apply, you must fill out an application and voluntarily submit to various screenings and background checks, followed by an interview scheduled at one of the following enrollment centers located in various Southwestern states. The total fee is $122.25 per person, and breaks down as follows:

  • Application Fee: $25 per person (or a maximum of $50 total for husband, wife and minor children)
  • Fingerprint Fee: $14.50 (applicants 14 years and older)
  • System Costs Fee: $82.75 per person (or a maximum of $160 total for a husband, wife and minor children)

Once applicants are approved they are issued Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards that will be shown when you cross back into the United States. SENTRI lanes are located at Otay Mesa, California; El Paso, TX; San Ysidro, CA; Calexico, CA; Nogales, AZ; Hidalgo, TX; Brownsville, TX; Anzalduas, TX; Laredo, TX; San Luis, AZ and Douglas, AZ.

This program is valid only for Mexican citizens and US citizens with Global Entry
This program is valid only for Mexican citizens and US citizens with Global Entry

Programa Viajero Confiable (Trusted Traveler Program) — Mexico 

Mexican citizens and US citizens who are members of Global Entry are eligible for the Programa Viajero Confiable, which allows for expedited clearance when entering Mexico, the same type of service you can expect with Global Entry at international airports. The service is already operational at three airports (Mexico City, San Jose del Cabo and Cancun), and soon to arrive at several more. The program quotes that you should be able to get through customs in just three minutes. You can fill out the application here and pay the fee of 1,372 Mexican pesos (about $88). Then you will have to go to schedule and interview in one of the three participating airports in Mexico. Your membership is valid for five years.

The Registered Traveller Scheme is currently available at seven UK airports, with more to come.

Registered Traveller Program — United Kingdom 

Citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and New Zealand can apply for the recently updated Registered Traveller Service offered by the UK Border Force, making for a speedy and simple customs and arrival experience into the UK.

By registering for the program, you will no longer need to complete a landing card and you can go through the UK/EU lanes and the UK ePassport gates (where available) with your biometric passport. The service costs £70 (about $109) per year, and if your application is denied for any reason, you will get £50 ($78) back. This program is currently available at Heathrow (LHR), London Gatwick (LGW), London City (LCY), London Stansted (STN), Manchester (MAN), Edinburgh (EDI) and Glasgow (GLA) airports and will be rolling out to more UK airports during 2015. Additionally, you can use faster lanes at the Brussels, Lille and Paris Eurostar terminals. You an apply here online, and expect to have your application processed within 10 days.

Enter the Netherlands without a hassle.
Enter the Netherlands without a hassle.

Privium/Flux — Netherlands

The Fast Low Risk Universal Crossing (FLUX) is an arrangement between US Border Patrol and the Netherlands, linking the Dutch Privium Program with Global Entry. To apply, you must be a US citizen and a Global Entry member. Netherlands citizens are also eligible for the program. You also must be a minimum height of 4’11,” the height at which the Privium iris scan is mounted.

Privium offers two options: a Basic program with fast lanes for border passage and security checks, and a Plus program that adds lounge access, priority parking and business-class check-in with 16 different airlines, even with an economy ticket. Global Entry members can apply by visiting the Global Entry homepage, signing in, clicking Manage Membership and then International Programs. Then select Privium, and submit the application. Note that it will cost you an additional 135 euros ($150) for the basic program that you will pay once you have an interview. Click here for more information, and note that pricing may be different for Dutch citizens who must apply through the Privium website.

EasyPASS is available in these German airports.
EasyPASS is available in these German airports.

EasyPASS — Germany

US citizens must have an electronic passport (e-passport) and be at least 18 years of age to qualify for EasyPASS, which offers expedited customs when arriving in Germany.

To register for EasyPASS, US citizens must visit an enrollment center operated by the German Federal Police in Germany. Enrollment centers for EasyPASS can be found in Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) and in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport (MUC) with more to come.

At the enrollment center, you will be asked to sign a form to confirm your voluntary participation in EasyPASS, and consent to the storage of your personal data.  You will then be asked to fill out a questionnaire. The Federal Police will verify the validity and authenticity of your travel document, and your application. If you are approved, you will be instantly enrolled in the program for the remainder of the validity of your passport. So far, there are EasyPASS lines at the Munich (MUC), Hamburg (HAM), Frankfurt (FRA) and Dusseldorf (DUS) airports.

Several international airports allow US citizens preclearance at customs.
Several international airports allow US citizens preclearance at customs.

US Citizen Preclearance — Ireland, UAE and more

Dublin (DUB) and Shannon (SNN), Ireland: This service is for US citizens leaving from the Dublin airport. In Terminal 2, you can clear customs, immigration and agriculture inspections at Dublin prior to departure. Having already cleared customs, passengers are treated as domestic arrivals when landing in the US.

Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH), United Arab Emirates: The United States Customs and Border Protection at Terminal 3 in AUH allows US-bound passengers to undertake all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi prior to departure.

Preclearance is also currently available in Bermuda (BDA), Aruba (AUA), Bahamas Freeport (FPO), Bahamas Nassau (NAS) and various Canadian airports.

Air India has requested the clearance service at the Mumbai (BOM) and Delhi (DEL) airports, but so far there’s no word whether that will happen or not.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson recently announced the intention to expand Preclearance to an additional 10 airports in nine countries, including Brussels (BRU), Belgium; Punta Cana (PUJ), Dominican Republic; Tokyo Narita (NRT), Japan; Amsterdam Schipol (AMS), Netherlands; Oslo, (OSL), Norway; Madrid-Barajas (MAD), Spain; Stockholm Arlanda (ARN), Sweden; Istanbul Ataturk (IST), Turkey; and London Heathrow (LHR) and Manchester (MAN), United Kingdom.

The SmartGate System is available in several Australian airports.
The SmartGate System is available in several Australian airports.

SmartGate System — Australia 

Australia’s Customs and Border Protection agency allows US Trusted Travelers to use their automated SmartGate border processing kiosks for expedited customs procedures. To be able to use the SmartGate system, you must be a member of Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI, travel with a valid US ePassport and be 16 years of age or older. An ePassport is the kind of passport the US has been issuing since 2007 with the chip embedded in the front cover. There’s no enrollment process to participate, you will just have to go to one of the kiosks and self-process when you arrive in Australia.

SmartGate is available at the following airports in Australia: Adelaide (ADL), Brisbane (BNE), Cairns (CNS), Darwin (DRW), Gold Coast (OOL), Melbourne (MEL), Perth (PER) and Sydney (SYD).

US citizens with US Global Entry can use dedicated express lanes at three airports in New Zealand. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

US Global Entry — New Zealand

US citizens with Global Entry membership traveling to New Zealand may use a dedicated express lane arriving at Auckland (AKL), Wellington (WLG) and Christchurch (CHC) airports with no additional costs or application. Lanes are clearly marked with signs that say “US Global Entry.” To be eligible to use the lanes, US Global Entry members simply present their Global Entry card, their US passport and arrival documentation.

US Global Entry members may apply for Korea’s SmartEntry Service (SeS) — and vice versa.

Smart Entry Service — Korea

US Customs and Border Protection has partnered with the Korean Immigration Service to link the SES (Smart Entry Service) program with the Global Entry program. This arrangement is open to both US and Korean citizens. US citizens must first become a Global Entry member, and may then apply for the Korean SES program. Korean citizens must first become an SES member, and may then apply for Global Entry. (Korean citizens apply here).

Applicants must be at least 17 years of age, and an interview at one of the Korean enrollment centers is required (located throughout South Korea, including the ICN airport). Membership is valid for five years and applicants must pay a $100 application fee for the SES program at the time of the interview in Korea. Global Entry members can apply by visiting the Global Entry homepage, signing in, clicking Manage Membership and then International Programs. Then select SES, and submit the application.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) allows US citizens engaged in business in the APEC region to have access to fast-track travel in many different countries.

US APEC Business Travel Card Program

APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation is an economic forum whose primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. Its APEC Business Travel Card Program allows US citizens engaged in verified business in the APEC region and US government officials engaged in APEC business to access to fast-track immigration lanes at selected airports in foreign APEC member economies which include: Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam.

To be eligible for the US APEC Business Travel Card Program:

  • You must be a US citizen.
  • You must be an existing member in good standing or be approved for membership in a CBP trusted traveler program (SENTRI, NEXUS or Global Entry) during the US APEC Business Travel Card application process.
  • You must be either a verified business person, or a US government official who is actively engaged in APEC business.

US APEC Business Travel Card holders can use the Global Entry kiosks at participating airports upon their US return. The non-refundable application fee for the US APEC Business Travel Card is $70, and the card is valid for three years from the date of issue, or until the expiration date of the card holder’s passport if this is earlier than three years. More information about this program can be found here.

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