Picture this: You’re returning to the US, and you know you’re facing the usual trial: Clearing U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Luckily, we live in an age where there are programs that assist travelers to escape the airport and be on their way home quicker than ever before. There are currently two programs in place for those who want to avoid the long lines that typically will happen when an international flight arrives. Heaven help you if there’s more than one international arrival at the same time.
The first is the Trusted Traveler programs. Trusted Traveler has four different types of programs depending on whether you’re flying, driving cross borders to Canada or Mexico, and also a commercial component as well. There is only one that applies to overseas travelers, and it’s called Global Entry. Global Entry cost $100.00 and is valid for five years.
Global Entry passengers do not wait in the long lines to speak to a Customs officer. Instead, they walk up to a kiosk, place their passport in slot and their fingerprints on the scanner and complete a customs declaration. A receipt prints and you’re off to Baggage Claim. You will hand the receipt to the agent as you leave Baggage Claim.
When you receive your id number, remember to add it to your Frequent Flyer Profiles. Global Entry will also give you TSA Pre Check. You will receive this by having your GE number associated with every airline ticket you purchase when it’s in your profile.
I have just completed the process of updating my Global Entry information because I have a new passport. Something you might not think about when a new passport arrived, but it could cause some interesting delays if everything doesn’t match up.
The other option is Mobile Passport. Mobile Passport is a free app for the iPhone or Android that helps you speed through U.S. Customs. What this is about is allowing you to complete the standard Customs Forms on your phone, including a customs declaration. You can do this on the plane, and when you have access to wifi or wireless, submitting the data to CBP. You should receive a receipt with an encrypted barcode. Follow the signs to Mobile Passport Control, show your passport to the officer and scan the barcode you received on your phone. And you’re done.
Mobile Passport is available at 25 airports and one cruise port, Port Everglades.
These are two mutually exclusive programs, and you should choose what is right for you and your situation. I would take Global Entry every time over Mobile Passport because I have Global Entry and I like it. Mobile Passport is not an option at the airport I frequent. But Mobile Passport is an excellent option for travelers flying through one of those 25 airports, like the ease of submitting the forms, and don’t want to pay the extra to have a speedy departure and be home sooner. Global Entry is for those travelers who don’t mind the fee involved and who complete the application process and have the interview. Global Entry also gives you speedy departure. Both programs will help you breeze through Customs and be on your way home much quicker. Don’t we all want that?
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