Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Are you a Trusted Traveler?

Wanderlust has taken hold of me. Last year I travelled with a friend to Iceland and we had the most amazing time. This year I found an incredible deal on a trip to Bangkok, Thailand and we are heading there in the fall. I have always been inspired to travel. Way back in college I spent my life savings on a 21-day trip around Europe, and I have been finding ways to continue travelling ever since.  

After returning from Iceland, my friend encouraged me to get a Global Entry Card.  Basically a Global Entry is a special pass when you travel that lets you skip long lines upon re-entry to the United States.  Since travel is definitely in my future plans I decided to check it out, and after a pretty straightforward process that lasted about a month, I received my card so look out world, here I come.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this program like I was, 
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that, according to their website, “ allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States”.
Although I have not used my card yet, according to the website, when people with a Global entry got to the airport they “proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.”  If you have ever had to wait in a long customs line you will understand the importance of this card. Basically it lets you skip much of the customs process.  This card works as a front of the line pass.  
The reason you are allowed to skip the line is that all travelers have to be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. Applicants undergo a background check and in-person interview before they are enrolled in the program.  The card also has a fee of $100 and lasts for 5 years.  Some travel credit cards will reimburse your fee for the program.  

Here are the required steps to apply for a card, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website 

Before you apply, make sure you are eligible for Global Entry.
It’s easy. Just follow these steps:
1.         Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account. Regardless of your age, you must have your own TTP account.
2.        Log in to your TTP account and complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application.
3.        After accepting your completed application and fee, CBP will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, then your TTP account will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Each applicant must schedule a separate interview.
4.       You will need to bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine readable permanent resident card.

Are You Eligible?
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of the following countries are eligible for Global Entry membership:
·      Citizens of India
·      Citizens of Colombia
·      Citizens of Germany
·      Citizens of Panama
·      Citizens of Singapore
·      Citizens of South Korea 
·      Citizens of Taiwan 
·      Mexican nationals

Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.
If you are under the age of 18, you must have your parent or legal guardian's consent to participate in the program.

When I applied I received conditional approval within a few days.  There are enrollment centers at most major airports, but interview appointments fill up quickly.  I had to wait about three weeks for my interview, but the interview itself took only about 5 minutes.  The agent verified my personal data on the application, took my fingerprints and picture and then sent me on my way.  

One of the great perks of the card is that it also includes TSA precheck for domestic flights, which is another great program that allows you to skip the lines at airport security.  

While this program isn’t for everyone, if you are planning to do international travel this card can hopefully make your trip a little bit easier, and after a long international flight that sounds wonderful.  

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