Program whisks fliers through U.S. Customs


POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Frequent international travelers can cut their waiting time clearing U.S. Customs at the Honolulu Airport by paying $100, having a background check on file and scanning their fingerprints at an automated kiosk.

Honolulu is one of 20 international airports where the Global Entry pilot program is “;up and running,”; said Jim Myers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman in Hawaii.

“;We started the enrollment program here on Monday, and so far we have taken applications from six people.”;

Under the program, pre-approved U.S. international travelers can clear customs in less than five minutes using an automated kiosk that looks like an automated teller machine.

Travelers insert their passport or permanent resident alien card into the document reader, provide digital fingerprints for comparison with fingerprints on file, answer customs declaration questions on the kiosk's touch screen and then present a transaction receipt to customs officials before leaving the inspection area.

Myers said in Honolulu the two kiosks are located in the secure international arrivals area adjacent to the counter that processes returning U.S. citizens.

Earlier this month, Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano said travelers using the automated kiosks reduced wait times by 70 percent. She said more than three-quarters of the participants were processed in less than five minutes.





        Originally introduced in April 2008 at New York's JFK International Airport, Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport and Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the U.S. Customs Global Entry program expanded last fall to Los Angeles, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, Chicago O'Hare and Miami. The newest additions, including Honolulu:        » Boston-Logan

        » Dallas-Fort Worth

        » Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County

        » Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Fla.

        » Las Vegas-McCarran

        » Newark, N.J.

        » Orlando, Fla.

        » Orlando Sanford, Fla.

        » Philadelphia

        » San Francisco

        » Seattle-Tacoma

        » San Juan-Luis Munoz Marin, Puerto Rico

Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection




She said in early August that about 16,000 travelers had enrolled in the program, which began in June 2008. The kiosks in airports at Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Virginia were used more than 51,000 times.

Myers said travelers who wish to enroll can go to the customs Web site at http://www.globalentry.gov to fill out an application online.

He cautioned that there is a nonrefundable $100 fee that must be paid during the enrollment process. The fee covers five years.

“;It will not be returned even if the application is rejected,”; Myers emphasized.

The minimum age for participation is 14, but applicants 14-17 years of age must have consent from a parent or legal guardian.

During the enrollment process, the traveler will set up a user account and, after Customs has reviewed the application, undergo an interview and background check at Honolulu Airport. The application form requires travelers to list the addresses where they lived within the past five years, provide a five-year employment history and list criminal convictions in any country.

During the interview, applicants have to produce proof of citizenship and be photographed and fingerprinted.

The program is open to all citizens and nationals of the United States and lawful permanent residents. Citizens of the Netherlands may also apply under a special reciprocal arrangement. U.S. travelers can use the kiosks at Amsterdam Airport in the Netherlands for an additional annual fee of $155.

The Global Entry program is one of two Customs “;trusted traveler”; initiatives. The other is NEXUS, which allows pre-screened travelers to breeze through immigration lines at the Canadian border.