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Travelors Offered Service To Expedite Customs Clearance

In an attempt to speed customs clearance for frequent travelors and others, a new program is set to start June 1.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is testing an expedited screening process for low-risk U.S. travelers entering the country from international destinations. The voluntary program, called Global Entry, is similar to the Transportation Security Administration’s Registered Traveler program, which speeds travelers through airport security lanes but is not for those returning to the U.S. Global Entry is being piloted in three U.S. airports—New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport.

CBP will begin accepting applications for the program through its Web site May 12, with operations at the three trial airports beginning June 10.

Those interested in enrolling must complete a three-step process. First the applicant completes an online form and pays a $100 fee. Next, CBP reviews the application and conducts a background investigation. Finally, the applicant must undergo an interview with CBP officers at one of the three trial airports. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents with clean criminal, customs, and immigration records will be considered.

Once enrolled, U.S. travelers can bypass CBP’s passport control line and proceed to a Global Entry kiosk, which scans machine-readable passports and compares the traveler’s fingerprints with biometric data on file. A digital photograph is taken, and the traveler is then prompted to answer several questions posted on the kiosk touch screen. Once this process is complete, the traveler receives a receipt, which must be presented to the CBP officer upon leaving the inspection area.

The pilot program is expected to run for at least six months. The Department of Homeland Security will then determine its viability as a permanent program.
On its Web site, CBP says it is working with the TSA to develop a DHS-wide approach to registered traveler programs. In addition, the DHS is in conversations with foreign partners to develop reciprocal programs for automated passport control.

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