In November 2009, DHS proposed establishing Global Entry – a pilot “trusted traveler” program – as a permanent fixture at U.S. airports.  The final rule should be published soon, and in the meantime, the program continues to expand and facilitate international travel.

Global Entry currently operates at 20 U.S. airports and allows U.S. citizens entering the country by air to skip immigration lines in favor of kiosks. To enroll, citizens pay a fee, provide personal information and fingerprints, and submit to a security interview. When Global Entry members arrive in the United States, they go to a kiosk, place their fingerprints on a reader and exit the immigration area. Frequent international travelers can save significant time by avoiding the lines.

Last year, DHS’s Customs and Border Protection agency implemented an agreement with the Netherlands to allow Dutch citizens to participate in Global Entry. Global Entry is open to Dutch citizens enrolled in the Dutch trusted traveler program (called Privium), and U.S. citizens enrolled in Global Entry are eligible for Privium. U.S. citizens accordingly can skip immigration lines in the Netherlands if they are enrolled in Privium.

There are approximately 50,000 U.S. members of Global Entry and 40,000 Dutch members of Privium. These numbers are growing, as the programs are relatively new. The reciprocity arrangement between Global Entry and Privium is just a year old. Already more than 1000 of the Dutch Privium members have become Global Entry members, indicating that they intend to make regular trips to the United States and are willing to pay for the benefits of expedited travel.

The number of participants in these programs likely will continue to grow, particularly as Global Entry partnerships (like the U.S.-Netherlands partnership) expand beyond the Netherlands. In April this year, DHS announced that Germany will be the next partner country.

Additional partnerships create the possibility of expedited travel to multiple destinations – a business traveler from a new partner country may get expedited travel to the United States, the Netherlands, Germany, and additional countries, as those countries enter similar arrangements.

An international web of trusted traveler programs should be welcomed and encouraged, as it would facilitate both travel and security.