I hate lines. I particularly hate customs lines. What could possibly be worse than waiting in line for an undisclosed eternity only to come face to face with an intimidating customs officer? Fortunately, with Global Entry, for the last four years I've gotten through customs in under five minutes without having to wait in line or speak to an intimidating officer.
Global Entry is U.S. Customs version of Fast Track and it makes entering the United States a quick and painless experience. I literally can't imagine life without it now. The program is open to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, Dutch citizens, South Korean citizens, German citizens, Panamanian citizens and Mexican nationals. To receive Global Entry, one must submit an application, go to an "interview" and have their biometric data taken. The application and service cost $100 dollars (non-refundable) but with the right credit card, the fee is refunded.
So how does it work? Your biometric data is stored and you are given a known traveller number. When you book a flight, you enter your known traveller number to ensure that you are in the Global Entry system. Upon arrival in the United States (and also Australia), you skip the lines and head straight for a kiosk. At the kiosk you register your finger prints, use the touch screen to complete your customs declaration, receive a receipt and off you go. At Customs secondary inspection after you've collected your bags; you still get to skip the entire line. So far (knock on wood) I've never had any delay (other than waiting for bags) upon return which has allowed me to save a fortune on cab waiting times while keeping a tight schedule.
The picture above? Never again. Sadly at present, there isn't too much reach for the program outside of the U.S. As a subscriber I would love if the program expanded the relationship and offer reciprocal benefits to more countries making both legs of a journey a breeze. As I mentioned we have created an agreement with Australia and I would hope that we are in talks with more close allies to create an open door. I personally would really benefit if this was introduced into the UK. Fingers crossed!
Are you thinking about enrolling? As always: firstname.lastname@example.org