India Officially Joins Global Entry Program

Global Entry Kiosks

Last week, President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint statement detailing the growing economic partnership between the U.S. and India. Among other important issues, the meeting between the leaders confirmed India will officially join the U.S. Global Entry Program in an effort to expand the ties between citizens of these countries.

This announcement comes just months after the February kick-off of The U.S.-India Travel and Tourism Partnership Year.

Brand USA describes the significance of this Partnership Year as a platform for the public and private sectors in the United States and India to identify challenges and maximize opportunities to increase travel and tourism between the 2 countries.

The announcement of India’s official participation in the Global Entry program certainly substantiates that endeavor.

What Is the Global Entry Program?

In short, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that gives pre-approval for low-risk travelers arriving in the states. There are currently kiosks in more than 42 participating U.S. airports.

Traveler Uses Global Entry Kiosk
A traveler uses Global Entry to expedite his re-entry to the U.S. Image courtesy of cbp.gov.

To be eligible for the program, travelers must fill out an application, attend a brief interview, and pay a 1-time fee of $100. Many travelers feel the benefits are more than worth this fairly painless process.

The Global Entry Program can be a huge time-saver for frequent flyers, business travelers, or even the occasional tourist. Members of the program have their information stored in a database. When they enter the country through a participating airport, members scan their machine-readable passports and fingerprints at a kiosk, complete on-screen customs declaration questions, and proceed straight to the baggage claim area or Global Entry attendant.

Acceptance into the Global Entry program also includes access to TSA PreCheck, which can certainly expedite security screenings when you’re trying to get to a flight.

Wait, Didn’t India Already Join Global Entry?

India’s official addition to the program has been a long time in the making. Initial indications appeared in September 2013 when President Obama met with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. At that time it was reported that the program could begin with the approval of a select group of Indian nationals and then possibly be further expanded. This didn’t happen.

In September of 2015, the Indian government reported they would pre-approve a list of 2,000 “important personalities” who would be allowed to use the program. However, this never materialized either.

The topic was reopened in September 2016 when President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the Global Entry Program. The memorandum reported a 3-month timeline for implementation, but details were not revealed. This timeline was not achieved.

This brings us up to date. On Monday, June 26, 2017, the White House’s Office of the Press Secretary posted the following information on a “fact sheet” that outlined the meeting:

Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program. The United States began accepting applications from India for the expedited entry program, facilitating travel in both directions that will lead to more business, investment, and tourism. In 2016, Indian visitors in the United States spent nearly $13 billion, making India the sixth largest market for U.S. travel and tourism exports.”

What Other Countries Are Already Participating?

Currently, there are 10 other countries whose low-risk citizens may participate in the Global Entry program. These countries include Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, Panama, The Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, and The United Kingdom.

This list does not include some countries like Australia, whose citizens are not yet allowed to apply for the program. However, they do have dedicated lanes at customs and border protection for U.S. Global Entry participants.

Should I Apply for Global Entry?

If you expect to travel abroad in the next 5 years, Global Entry could be a very beneficial program for you. The decreased wait times at customs and border protection plus the eligibility for TSA PreCheck will save you precious time at the airport and allow for a less stressful airport experience overall.

Global Entry Kiosk at Newark Liberty International
Passenger uses Global Entry Kiosk at Newark Airport. Image courtesy of cbp.gov.

Additionally, some credit cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN offer a $100 credit toward the Global Entry fee. To receive the credit, your fee must be paid with the specific card offering the credit.

An interesting fact to note with many of these cards: if you already have Global Entry yourself, you can use your fee credit to pay for someone else’s application. Not a bad gift idea!

If you are sure you won’t travel outside the U.S. and don’t have one of the cards mentioned above, Global Entry might not be worth it for you. However, if you expect to travel within the U.S., it could be worth taking the time to look into applying for TSA PreCheck.

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