DHS proposes permanent status for biometrics-based traveler program

Global Entry pilot program said to cut processing times

The Homeland Security Department wants to make permanent an international trusted traveler programs that uses biometrics to verify identities, named Global Entry, according to a proposed rule in today’s Federal Register.

The Global Entry program allows pre-approved air travelers determined to be a low-risk to security bypass regular primary passport control inspection lines, which are often crowded. Making the program permanent would improve customer service at airports and let law enforcement to focus on higher-risk travelers, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said today in a press release.

Travelers can apply for the program at http://www.globalentry.gov for a $100 fee. After submitting the application, people would then have to do an in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. CBP would collect a full-set of ten finger prints to do a back ground check and a photograph.

If a traveler is cleared for the program, the $100 fee would cover participation in the program for five years.

After arriving at a participating U.S. airport, Global Entry travelers could bypass regular primary passport control inspection lines by using a Global Entry kiosk to confirm their identities with machine readable travel documents and fingerprints. Travelers would also have to answer customs declaration questions at the kiosk. Once confirmed, they would get a transaction receipt they’d present to CBP before leaving the inspection area.

The pilot phase of the program, which is run by DHS’ U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), began at three airports in June 2008 and was expanded in August 2008 and again in August 2009 to additional locations. Global Entry currently has about 27,000 members participating in the pilot program and those members wouldn’t have to reapply for the permanent program, DHS said.

DHS said the proposed rule would also let CBP expand the program to additional U.S. international airports.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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