The United States has incorporated yet another country into its Global Entry Program: Germany. Trusted German citizens will now be able to enjoy a more streamlined travel experience, granted they undergo a background check and pay a $100 fee.
This addition will offer even more incoming tourists faster entry at U.S. terminals while also enhancing U.S. security.
The Global Entry Program, initiated four years ago, is part of the U.S. effort to globally advance its security. When it began, it was accessible only to Mexican and Dutch travelers entering the U.S.
In August 2013, the program was extended to limited travelers from the United Kingdom, Germany, Qatar, and South Korea. Then in 2015, it opened to all citizens of the United Kingdom and Panama.
Around the world today, 2.5 million are members of Global Entry, and approximately 70,000 apply each month for membership. With fewer lines to pass through, it’s no wonder so many are “first in line” to join.
To become a member, one must undergo an extensive background check. This entails sharing biographical details and past travel history, getting fingerprinted, and interviewing face-to-face with a governmental official. If one successfully passes these requirements and holds no criminal record, then he or she can officially join the program.
The program has a number of benefits, but two stand out in particular: security and ease of entry for travelers. Since members are pre-approved for Global Entry before their trips, interviews with Customs and Border Protection agents generally aren’t required once they arrive at a U.S. airport. Instead, travelers approach a Global Entry kiosk, scan their fingerprints, and answer a few questions. Just like that, and they’re good to go.
And U.S. citizens can apply for a reciprocal program, EasyPASS, to expedite transit through German airports. While this obviously benefits travelers, Global Entry also helps the U.S. focus its limited security resources on other travelers who are lesser known and could be a greater threat.
It is worth mentioning that Global Entry is not open to asylum seekers or migrants in Germany. Global Entry is separate from the visa process, and users still have to get a visa or travel authorization to come to the U.S.
Members of Global Entry are also enrolled in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck, which allows lower-risk trusted travelers to go through a quicker, less burdensome security screening at U.S. airports. Using a similar risk-based approach to security, TSA PreCheck allows TSA agents to focus their screening effort on higher-risk travelers while expediting the travel of trusted ones.
In the push to improve national security and facilitate trade and travel, the U.S. should add more countries into Global Entry, especially those that belong to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). These nations are already working with the U.S. on issues of travel security, and such an expansion would only help further U.S. security.
More security, easier travel, and improved diplomatic ties with friends and allies: Everyone wins with Global Entry.