Australian passport holders are one step closer to qualifying for the United States’ Global Entry program, unlocking fast-track processing at passport control when entering the United States as well as access to TSA PreCheck for expedited security screening at US airports.
The coming months will see the Department of Home Affairs launch a trial – albeit one previously planned for 2019 – allowing 500 travellers to apply for and enrol in the Global Entry scheme.
“The Australian Border Force (has) agreed with the United States Customs and Border Protection the detailed steps required to support a 500-person pilot for the Global Entry program," a department spokesperson has confirmed to Executive Traveller. "We anticipate that the pilot will run for approximately six months."
More crucially, the ABF says it "remains committed to rolling out the Global Entry program more broadly shortly after successful completion of the pilot."
Global Entry applications involve both a background check of the applicant and an in-person interview – both of which are conducted by the United States – but the approval of the traveller’s home country is also required before Global Entry membership is granted, being one of the issues that the Australian Government is working through.
Citizens and permanent residents of ten countries around the world – ranging from the UK, Germany and Singapore to India and Colombia – are already eligible for Global Entry membership.
Applying for US Global Entry
Once Australians are eligible to apply for Global Entry, that process begins online with the payment of a non-refundable US$100 fee and the completion of an application form, which US Customs and Border Protection will review.
If no issues are found, the traveller is then ‘conditionally approved’, and is then ready to schedule an in-person interview to finalise their membership.
Interviews take place at Global Entry Enrolment Centres, but in many cases, this can be at passport control on the traveller’s next arrival into the United States, including at Preclearance locations such as in Canada, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates.
Should the interviewer sign off on that membership, it’s valid for five years, and the traveller can then use Global Entry kiosks and lanes at passport control on all future visits to the United States, where available.
At busy airports like Los Angeles (LAX), this can reduce the wait time at passport control from over an hour to just a few short minutes.
TSA PreCheck via US Global Entry
Being a Global Entry member also unlocks TSA PreCheck, making security screening in the United States less of a hassle when travelling with a participating airline.
Those with PreCheck can usually leave all laptops and liquids inside their carry-on bags at the screening point, don’t need to take off belts and shoes, and are most often screened via a metal detector rather than a body scanner.
In many airports, PreCheck flyers also have a dedicated screening line.
Global Entry members will receive a Known Traveller Number (KTN), which must be entered into each airline reservation – or attached to a person’s frequent flyer profile, for the airlines that permit it – to help facilitate their access to PreCheck.
Those eligible will spot "TSA PreCheck", "TSA Pre" or similar on their airline boarding pass, although from time to time, these travellers may still be directed through the 'regular' airport security screening.
Airlines that currently support PreCheck include Alaska Airlines, American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas, United, Virgin Atlantic and more – although Virgin Australia is not yet on board.