DHS opens Global Entry program to Netherlands

The Homeland Security Department has opened its international trusted traveler program to air passengers from a European country for the first time, officials said. The move is expected to lead eventually to a global cooperative of countries participating in the program.

DHS has started a program with the Netherlands to open membership in their respective international trusted traveler programs to citizens of both countries, the department said in a news release April 23.

This is the first time citizens of a country outside of North America have been granted membership in the department’s Global Entry program for trusted travelers, according to DHS. Canada and Mexico have separate trusted traveler agreements with the United States.

Under the Global Entry program, a voluntary program operating at seven U.S. airports, applicants undergo a background check and interview and submit biometric and personal information to DHS. If the applicants are judged to be low-risk, they are enrolled in the program and receive expedited customs and identity processing at the U.S. airports when returning from overseas destinations. They must verify their fingerprints at electronic kiosks during that processing.

Similarly, the Netherlands’ Privium program subjects travelers to a background check and verifies their identities with an iris scan.

“We are pleased to join the government and immigration officials of the Netherlands in using technology and modern security tools to strengthen and streamline our entry processes,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in the release.

Global Entry is expanding to 13 additional U.S. airports by the end of 2009, according to the DHS agency of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Enrollment costs $100 per person and lasts five years.

Global Entry is similar in several ways to the domestic Registered Traveler program. However, Global Entry enrollees use their U.S. passports for identity purposes and do not use a separate identification card. Registered Traveler enrollees use a biometric identification card issued by the program.

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