A new program from the Department of Homeland security could allow you to zip through passport services lines when you return home from overseas. The program, called Global Entry, allows passengers to pay $100 to get through customs a little bit faster.
Here’s how it works, according to this report from the Dallas Morning News:
- You pay a $100 application fee, which gets you in the program and is good for 5 years.
- When you return from overseas, instead of going through the normal passport services line for returning travelers, you present your passport to be read at a special kiosk.
- The kiosk scans your fingerprints and compares them with the prints that the government has on file for you.
- You use the kiosk’s touchscreen to answer routine re-entry questions.
- Once you’re done, the kiosk prints out a receipt, which you show to a customs officer before you leave.
According to the article referenced above, this system can reduce wait times for customs by up to 70 percent. It is currently available only in select airports, including: Boston, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Newark, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Juan, Atlanta, Chicago (O’Hare), Houston (Intercontinental), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Miami and Washington (Dulles).
Of course, before you can join the Global Entry program, you need to have a passport. When you apply for a passport, it’s vital that you allow enough time for it to be issued before your trip. Currently, wait times are at least 6 weeks for regular service and at least 2-3 weeks for the government’s expedited service.
If you need faster passport services, the easiest way to get them is through a private passport expediting company. An expediting company will deliver your passport application by hand to the US Department of State, drastically cutting processing times. In fact, your new passport could be on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours!