Find me someone who enjoys customs lines and I will find you a liar… or a crazy person. I was excited this week to see that I could apply for “Registered Traveler”, a customs and immigration expediting service offered by United Kingdom Customs. This might not mean all that much to some, but it’s a huge step towards reciprocal benefits and beating the hassle on both sides of the pond.
In the US, Global Entry has been the “fast track” program expediting travelers through customs. Slowly but surely the program expanded to include reciprocal benefits in foreign countries such as Australia and the Netherlands and accordingly, the program has allowed for the inclusion of select foreign nationals from partner countries. In 2013 a mirror pilot program in the UK called “Registered Traveler” began, which allowed similar select foreign nationals to use domestic lanes and e-gates for expedited screening, it appeared to be the beginning of a fruitful relationship. Sadly, the registration closed very quickly leaving most of us in the dark, and reciprocal relations on hold.
For a similarly short time, UK citizens could enroll in Global Entry, seemingly creating the long desired symbiotic relationship. Apparently, UK enrollment in Global Entry was halted in response to the freeze of “Registered Traveler” enrollment, leaving no reciprocal program for US citizens entering the UK. Enter nearly two years of a stale mate. Per my email invitation to apply and join, the “Registered Traveler” program is back open to US residents who frequent the UK and this is a very significant step in creating a truly streamlined program for citizens of both (great) countries. With “Registered Traveler” accepting applications, it’s very reasonable to assume that UK citizens will become eligible for Global Entry enrollment in the US in the near future. We can only hope and of course, stayed tuned to make sure you don’t miss your opportunity.