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What is Global Entry and why you need it

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?

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