Adapting to the new travel norms is a matter of knowing how to navigate effectively. Expedited clearance programs at airports and borders are a good way to avoid wait time. Although we all would like to bypass long lines, there are so many programs out there. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is the most appropriate for you.
To help you decide, we put together a simple summary of expedited clearance programs. Whether you’re a veteran traveler, just starting to travel, or haven’t traveled for a while, you may find a new way to streamline your business trips. So, let’s get started.
Global Entry: The program lets low-risk international travelers arriving in the US go through automatic Global Entry kiosks. You head to a Global Entry kiosk with your passport, scan fingers, and complete customs verification. Once you have your transaction receipt, you’re on your way to baggage claim. No processing lines or paperwork involved. While Global Entry is available at major US airports, you get access to expedited entry benefits in other countries as well.
How do you join? First, check if you’re eligible. Since the program is run by US Customs and Border Protection, the agency provides criteria for eligibility and application steps. When your application is conditionally approved, you go through a background check and in-person interview.
TSA PreCheck: Just as the name implies, the program is run by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and helps speed up security screenings for flights leaving from the US. No need to remove belts, shoes, laptops, liquids, or light jackets. On top of that, travelers with disabilities and medical conditions can coordinate support at the TSA checkpoint. According to the TSA, you can access TSA PreCheck at over 200 US airports.
How do you join? In general, the application process is less intense than Global Entry. Apply online, visit an enrollment center, pay an application fee, and add your traveler number to your airline reservation for faster screening.
If you choose to apply for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, you can double your benefits and avoid paying separate application fees. Some credit cards even cover the application fee for both. Not sure if you’re credit card company offers a credit? You may want to reach out to the company directly and ask.
NEXUS: As a NEXUS program member, you can use dedicated lanes when entering the US and Canada to speed up the border clearance process. If you’re entering US airports, you head to Global Entry kiosks and if you’re arriving at Canadian airports, you go to NEXUS kiosks. Also good to know: if you’re driving across the US-Canadian border, all travelers in the vehicle must be NEXUS members in order to go through a NEXUS lane. Who’s eligible for NEXUS? US and Canadian citizens and certain Mexican nationals.
How do you join? Apply on the Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) website. If you pass risk criteria by the US and Canada, you go through an interview at a NEXUS enrollment center. Once approved, you can minimize your wait at air, land, and marine ports of entry.
SENTRI: Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection, or SENTRI for short, is also a US Customs and Border Protection program. With SENTRI, preapproved, low-risk travelers arriving in the US can pass through dedicated lanes at southern land border ports, which is why it’s often used by travelers who cross the US-Mexican border.
How do you join? If you meet the low-risk eligibility requirements, you apply through the TTP website. Once you’re conditionally approved, you go through an interview with required ID, vehicle registration, and insurance.
FAST: If you’re a commercial driver entering the US from Canada or Mexico with low-risk shipments, the FAST clearance program is worth checking out. FAST vehicle lanes let you get through customs faster at the busiest border crossings, spanning from New York, Michigan, and Washington to California and Texas.
How do you join? Go to the TTP website and see if you meet its requisites, which include having a business office staffed in the US or Canada. Keep in mind, everyone in your supply chain – from manufacturer and carrier to driver and importer – must be certified under the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program to participate in FAST.
In the travel industry, biometric facial recognition technology is becoming increasingly popular, driven by the need for touchless journeys. The software measures features on your face to confirm your identity. SITA is one company that uses biometrics to digitalize the journey for air travel. Through SITA’s Smart Path technology, travelers can go as far as using their face as a boarding pass.
At a time when these frictionless experiences are so in demand, we’ve found that the biometric screening company CLEAR also provides an effective solution. With a quick capture of your face and eyes at airport security checkpoints, CLEAR makes the preboarding process faster and easier.
Wondering how some of these programs work together at the airport? If you’re departing from the US, CLEAR saves time at the initial security screening before you go to a TSA checkpoint. Recently, Shelley Arguelles, director of our product strategy team, was flying out from the Denver airport. She bypassed the long security line, headed straight toward a CLEAR kiosk, which scanned her eyes, and was ushered to TSA PreCheck by a helpful CLEAR staff member.
“When I got to TSA, all I needed to do was show my phone with my boarding pass. No need to remove mask or show ID. The whole process was a breeze,” said Shelley.
While CLEAR entry lanes can be found at the major US airports, CLEAR’s benefits extend beyond business travel. When you download the CLEAR app, you can store and access your vaccine card. Given all these advantages, we collaborated with CLEAR so that our clients can get a preferred rate on a CLEAR membership. Learn more about our CLEAR collaboration for touchless travel.