Australian citizens may be next in line to enjoy the benefits of the United States’ expedited entry program, Global Entry. Given Australia’s ties with the USA, some may feel this is overdue, but along with access to ESTA and TSA PreCheck, eligible Australians may soon find arriving at and leaving the United States a whole lot easier.
A trial is about to get underway
A report today in Executive Traveller reveals that Australia’s Department of Home Affairs is poised to start a Global Entry trial that will involve some 500 Australian citizens. After the trial, during which the inevitable kinks and bugs will be ironed out, the Global Entry program will be made available to all Australian citizens.
A Department of Home Affairs spokesperson told Simple Flying today;
“The Australian Border Force (ABF) is working to finalise arrangements for the Global Entry program pilot including the duration and timeframe for the pilot and possible participants. We anticipate that the pilot will run for approximately six months.
“The pilot will be used to test our business model for managing and vetting Global Entry program applicants as well as refine our connections with the United States Customs and Border Protection’s (USBCP) digital platform to ensure a smooth transition to full operational capacity.”
GlobalEntry is a US program that provides swift clearance and entry into the USA for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. It is currently available to US citizens and permanent residents in addition to citizens of Argentina, India, Colombia, the UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Mexican nationals.
Arriving passengers holding a Global Entry clearance can head straight to the dedicated Global Entry kiosks, run their smart chipped passport through it, complete a swift fingerprint verification, and use the screen to complete their customs declaration.
This news follows hot on the heels of Qantas joining TSA PreCheck, allowing eligible passengers on Qantas flights departing from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Dallas Fort Worth to fast track through security. This leaves Virgin Australia and Jetstar as the only airlines flying between Australia and the USA not offering TSA PreCheck.
The benefits of joining a US trusted traveler program
Outgoing travelers with TSA PreCheck generally don’t have to pull out their laptops and liquids at security points, don’t have to take off their belts and shoes, and are usually screened via a metal detector rather than a body scan. Also, TSA PreCheck passengers usually have dedicated screening lines – you’ll be queuing with seasoned travelers who know how to scooch through airport security.
This all sounds like a pretty sweet deal for Australian citizens who travel over to the United States, but enrolling is easier said than done.
Enrolling in Global Entry automatically sees you enrolled in TSA PreCheck. The current cost is USD$100 and the clearance will be valid for five years. As Executive Traveller points out, that’s chump change if it lets you avoid the queues when arriving and departing from the USA.
On the downside, you have to attend an interview in person at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. These are all in the USA, usually at major airports and downtown locations. During that interview, you will have to provide personal information in addition to travel history, employment, social media accounts.
You’ll be screened for criminal convictions and run through various watchlists. Then the nice man will take your photo and fingerprints which the FBI and Homeland Security will run (and presumably retain).
Is the process worth it?
If your Facebook account is up to scratch and you pass muster, you’ll get a known traveler number (KTN) which you’ll need to provide to the airline you are traveling to or from the USA on. A code indicating your known traveler status will be printed on your boarding pass.
For all the effort you should be able to clear US Customs in a matter of minutes. The kiosk will scan your passport, run your fingerprints and give you a receipt that you hand to the Customs Officer and keep going.
And while anything that makes arriving in and leaving the USA easier is welcome, is Global Entry worth it? Only if you are a frequent traveler to the United States. Even then, there are alternatives such as the APEC business card which provides fast track entry and exit for eligible Australian travelers, not just in the USA but around the Asia Pacific region. However, for Australian travelers who do head to the USA regularly, Global Entry will be one more option available to them.