Photo by Heather Middleton
By Maria-Jose Subiria
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials say the agency's Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program is gaining popularity at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
According to Timothy Sushil, public affairs liaison for Customs, the program is seeing increases in the usage of its kiosks at the Federal Inspection Station of Concourse E at Hartsfield-Jackson, and has doubled the number of kiosks available.
The Global Entry program began in September 2008.
According to Customs statistics, at Atlanta's airport, international passengers used the kiosks 1,956 times from September 2008 to February 2009; 9,213 times from March 2009 to August 2009; 13,757 times from September 2009 to February 2010; and 3,077 times last month.
When Global Entry began at the airport, Concourse E had four kiosks for the program, Sushil said. Customs added four more kiosks last month, bringing the total to eight.
"It gives you an expedited process," by allowing pre-screened international travelers to bypass the Passport Control line and proceed to a kiosk, Sushil said.
According to Department of Homeland Security officials, the program reduces the Passport Control line wait time for international travelers by 70 percent, with more than 75 percent of travelers processed in less than five minutes.
The program admits low-risk passengers that are either legal, permanent U.S. residents, or U.S. citizens, said Sushil.
In order to qualify for the program, applicants must never have been convicted of a crime in any country, and never have been found in violation of U.S. customs, immigration or agricultural laws.
"Global Entry participants are known low-risk travelers," Sushil said. "Their use of the kiosk allows CBP officers to focus on high-risk passengers."
Sushil said that while a traveler's information is reviewed when applying for the program, the kiosks review information each time a traveler uses them, to ensure the person is still considered low risk.
"Automated enforcement checks occur each time a person uses the kiosk to enter the United States," Sushil said.
He said the kiosks scan passports, read fingerprints and ask a series of questions of travelers before issuing a receipt.
The receipt instructs the traveler to proceed to the Expedited Exit Point, or to report to Passport Control if the receipt has an X across it, he said.
"If bringing items that must be declared after completion of the kiosk transaction, the member [of the program] will be directed to see a CBP officer," Sushil said. "Additionally, members are subject to random examination by CBP."
According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, besides Hartsfield-Jackson, the program is available at 19 other international airports in the U.S., including Boston's Logan International Airport, O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida.
According to Sushil, Global Entry members are also eligible for expedited entry into the Netherlands, through the Fast Low Risk Universal Crossing (FLUX) alliance. Travelers must also be accepted into the Dutch Privium program, which offers expedited service for international travelers at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, to become a FLUX participant.
In addition to the Global Entry five-year membership fee of $100, combined fees may vary for the Dutch Privium program and FLUX.
According to Department of Homeland Security officials, Jane Holl Lute, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, state secretary for the German Interior Ministry, recently signed a joint statement signifying their desire to merge the U.S. and German trusted traveler programs.
"Integrating one of our biometric trusted traveler programs with Germany's will facilitate legitimate trade and travel between our two nations, while allowing law enforcement to focus on the most serious security threats at points of entry to our country," Lute said.
Those interested in applying to the Global Entry program can visit www.globalentry.gov to set up an account and complete the application, said Sushil.
Sushil said that once Customs and Border Protection receives the application, the applicant will be instructed to schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.
At the interview, a Customs officer will review the application, interview the individual to determine his or her eligibility, take a photograph and collect biometric information, Sushil said.
According to Sushil, individuals must provide a machine-readable passport and another form of personal identification, such as a driver's license.
"If an individual is accepted into the Global Entry program, CBP will explain the terms and conditions of the program to the individual," Sushil said. "Additionally, they will be shown how to use the kiosk. Their machine-readable passport [or] permanent resident card will be added to the trusted traveler system."