by Michael J. Shapiro | November 01, 2012
The inefficiencies of the airport security screening process are a plague for planners and attendees alike. So when we hear word of programs that could potentially speed up airport security or immigration processes, we take note. But since the rise and fall of the government’s Registered Traveler program several years ago, it’s been difficult to keep track of just which pre-screen programs are available in which airports, and who is eligible to take advantage of each.

Essentially, two types of programs currently exist: Trusted Traveler systems, which speed up U.S. clearance for international arrivals; and the domestic expedited-security-lane programs, which include the government-run PreCheck and the privately run CLEAR. M&C combed the resources of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection agencies to establish just what’s in operation and where. Following is a summary of the requirements — and limitations — of each program.

Trusted Traveler
Trusted Traveler programs run under the auspices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and they're designed specifically to speed up the process of international arrivals in the U.S. They include the following three entities.

> Global Entry This program uses automated kiosks to speed up entry for pre-approved, low-risk travelers arriving in the United States. You might have noticed these kiosks, free from any lines, while you were standing immobile in a seemingly eternal customs cue. Global Entry members simply approach a kiosk, present a machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, verify a fingerprint scan and enter a customs declaration. The kiosk issues a receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim.

Eligibility. U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, Dutch, South Korean and Mexican citizens are eligible. Participants must apply online, undergo a background check and, pending review, schedule an in-person interview at one of 26 Global Entry Enrollment Centers (most are in major U.S. airports). An interviewer asks questions, takes a photo, scans fingerprints and determines whether the applicant is accepted. Membership is valid for five years.

$100 nonrefundable application fee

Locations. As of October 2012, Global Entry kiosks were available at 30 U.S. airports, which together account for about 98 percent of international arriving passengers. Kiosks also are available in eight Canadian airports and two Irish airports, for flights that are pre-cleared for U.S. arrival. (See for the complete list.)

> Nexus This joint program with the Canada Border Services Agency offers expedited processing for travel between the U.S. and Canada. NEXUS lanes and screeners are available at ports of entry for air, land and sea travel. Approved participants receive a photo-identification RFID card, to be presented on arrival.

Eligibility. Citizens or permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada apply by filling out an online application, then interviewing at a NEXUS Enrollment Center. Applicants must be approved by both the U.S. and Canadian agencies. Membership is valid for five years.

Cost. US$50 or CN$50 nonrefundable application fee

Locations. As of October 2012, NEXUS enrollment centers and border-crossing personnel were available at 23 airports and crossing points in the U.S. and Canada (see Members also can use Global Entry kiosks in participating airports.

See for details about the SENTRI program, for land or sea arrivals from Mexico.