If you travel frequently, you may want to consider enrolling in one of the Trusted Traveler Programs administered by the U.S. Homeland Security Administration. The programs help you clear security, customs and immigration lines faster, saving you valuable time. Below are programs currently available.
Who is it for? Returning U.S. citizens or residents arriving by air from international destinations.
Designed for frequent international travelers, Global Entry provides expedited clearance for enrolled air passengers upon arrival in the U.S. Available at select airports, the program provides automated kiosks where you present your machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place your fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. In return, the kiosk issues you a transaction receipt and directs you to baggage claim and the exit. To enroll, a traveler must be pre-approved and undergo a rigorous background check and interview. The program also applies to Canadian citizens or residents enrolled in NEXUS (see below) and to Mexican nationals.
SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection)
Who is it for? Returning U.S. citizens or residents traveling from Mexico by car.
The SENTRI program provides accelerated entry through the U.S. border from Mexico via dedicated car lanes, even at peak times. Once approved for the program, you are issued a Radio Frequency Identification Document (RFID) and vehicle sticker decal. This allows you to use the SENTRI lane, which automatically identifies you, your vehicle and its occupants, as you approach the border. SENTRI lanes are available at various entry points in California, Texas, and Arizona. To enroll, applicants must voluntarily undergo a thorough biographical background check and a personal interview with a Customs and Border Protection officer. The SENTRI card can also serve in lieu of a U.S. passport.
Who is it for? U.S. and Canadian citizens or residents of either country traveling between the U.S. and Canada.
NEXUS is designed to expedite crossing the U.S./Canada border by air, land, and sea. A joint venture between the two countries, the program provides approved members with accelerated processing at Canadian Preclearance airport kiosks, dedicated commuter lanes at designated border entry points, and marine reporting locations. To qualify, applicants must apply, and, upon approval, undergo an interview. Once approved, the recipient is issued a card that can be used as an alternative to a passport for land travel between the U.S. and Canada. For NEXUS toll-free information (U.S. and Canada) call 1-866-NEXUS 26 (1-866-639-8726).
TSA Expedited Screening Pilot Program
Who is it for? Outbound U.S. Citizens traveling by air
The Transportation Security Administration is currently testing a pilot program open on a voluntary basis to U.S. citizens who are members of one of the other Trusted Traveler Programs, or who belong to select airline frequent-flyer programs. Randomly-selected passengers who qualify may find a special barcode on their boarding pass which entitles them to an expedited screening lane at security checkpoints. The program currently operates at select airports.
For further information about the Trusted Traveler Programs, eligibility requirements, fees, and how to apply visit http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/. Information on the TSA is available at at www.tsa.gov .