Houston, TX 23 Nov. 2009. A little over a year ago, I was coming back from a trip to Europe and when I got to the Houston-Intercontinental Airport I saw a leaflet that talked about a program called Global Entry. What is Global Entry and why would I need it I thought?
I had just spent about twenty minutes in line and hated it. This leaflet promised expedition through Immigration which I’m all about and I’m sure you as well. I had already signed up for the IRIS program in the U.K. which gets me through the process in no time, so I was ready.
Amsterdam, Netherlands has a similar program, but I’m not eligible (only Dutch citizens allowed), so I have not signed up sadly. Also, the U.S. had a test program a few years ago, but it went belly up. Yes, I did sign up for that too and it worked well, while it worked.
I’ve just found out though while writing this article that I can now apply for Privium due to an agreement between the two governments. Details at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/global_entry/global_entry_flux.xml. This is a huge deal as the lines in Amsterdam can be very long when departing the airport. Privium is a bit pricey though, so I will have to consider if it is worth it.
Once I got home, I went online to the URL listed in the brochure, http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/global_entry, no the government is not marketing savvy, so they don’t have http://www.cbp.gov/globalentry set up :-(. I was eager to sign and paid the required $100. If I save nineteen minutes out of my life not waiting in line, I win.
The process is not easy as you have to enter all the places you’ve visited ever. Well, I’ve visited 85 countries :-), so you get the picture. I kept focussed though and looking at those long lines at Immigration. Once this was done, I then had to get an appointment at any airport that had Global Entry. That presented a challenge as the hours were only 9-5. Despite that I made it work and made an appointment at Houston-Intercontinental.
I took my passport and other identification, did the interview and now I’m in.
So, although the process is a bit lengthy, it is worth it. On my trip in this weeekend from London, the lines for U.S. citizens and visitors were maxed out. I walked straight to the special Global Entry line, placed my passport on the reader, then four of my right fingers as requried, answered a few questions, then I’m done in under 30 seconds. Meanwhile the line got longer.
Downstairs in Customs, there is a special line for us too. I was through that in no time as well. I felt very special as a I walked past all those non-Global Entry travellers.
So, now you know what is Global Entry and why you need it. So go get one at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/global_entry.
If you are currently a Global Entry user, please share your experiences with us and tell us why you decided to spend that $100? If you are not, tell us what is holding you back?