Ever since September 11th, 2001, both Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Authority (TSA) have expanded their reach. This has resulted in an increase in the time it takes to board your plane or boat out of the U.S., to re-enter the country and the time it takes for deliveries to get across borders.
For some, especially those taking a once-a-year or once-in-a-lifetime vacation abroad, this extra time for screening is annoying but not necessarily detrimental to their lives or their trip. For others, such as frequent business travellers or manufacturers, the security screening takes a huge bite out of their lives and their bottom lines. But what if there was a way for these frequent travelers and shipments to pass through security screening in an expedited manner? How much would that change the nature of international business?
Introducing the Global Entry Program
All low-risk, frequent international travelers entering the U.S. who are Dutch citizens, Mexican nationals, and U.S. nationals, citizens and lawful permanent residents may be eligible to enter the Global Entry program—a system of kiosks that help verify and screen approved entrants allowing them to skip the normal security process and lines.
At the kiosk, approved members can insert their passport and provide fingerprints, which the system will compare with data on file. A photograph will also be taken to verify the traveler’s identity. Next, the approved member will have to answer declaration questions at the kiosk. Upon successfully being identified and having customs’ questions approved, the kiosk prints a receipt that can be given to a custom’s officer as the member leaves.
Approval for the Global Entry Program
In addition to the conditions stated in the previous section, an applicant for the Global Entry program must also have a clean record with no convictions for criminal offenses, must not have been charged with any customs offenses, and cannot have been declared inadmissible to the U.S.
To apply, individuals can visit the Global Online Enrollment System. There they will be asked to submit an application and pay a $100 fee. The fee is non-refundable, even if the application is denied. The applicant should expect a background check and should prepare to be available for an interview at one of 26 enrollment centers within 90 days of receiving an approval notice; the interview must be scheduled within just 30 days of approval. Once approved, the membership is valid for 5 years.
There are other expedited international entry programs that frequent travelers may wish to explore:
- FLUX is one that works well for travel moving between the U.S. and the Netherlands. With FLUX (Fast Low Risk Universal Crossing), travelers must already be approved for Global Entry and the Netherlands local program, Privium.
- For quick entry to Canada, travelers can consider NEXUS, a program that provides members with a membership card and can be used for entry by air, land or sea.
- The FAST program allows for the expedited delivery of shipments from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico. With FAST, the supplier, manufacturer, importer and delivery driver must all be certified, which can make the application and approval process time consuming and may require a bit of coordination.
- Finally, for frequent travel between the U.S. and Mexico, there is the SENTRI program. This is much like the Global Entry program, but a Radio Frequency Identification Document (RFID) and vehicle sticker are issued to the member upon approval. RFID does have the ability to track an individual’s movements and habits in the country, which may be too invasive for some travelers.
If you frequently travel between international locations, it’s definitely worth your time to explore any entry expedition programs available. These programs not only get you into a country faster, they also help you ensure that time spent away from home is more meaningful than it would be if you were forced to stand in line at customs.
Frequent business travelers should also consider international group insurance plans for themselves and any employees, such as delivery drivers, who spend any amount of time traveling over U.S. borders. Without the protection of international group insurance plans such as health and life insurance, you and your employees could be at risk while technically on the clock. Group insurance programs can be designed to be effective and affordable, offering the perfect balance between coverage options, limits, and deductibles.