Reciprocal Agreement Between US & German Trusted Traveler Programs

While the travel experience has become more and more unpleasant for the average traveler over the years, I can’t even begin to say how much more pleasant my security and immigration experience has become.

Obviously there’s TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, but beyond that I have a German passport, so in the UK and many places in the EU I can just use the automated border control machines. I just slide in my passport and look at the camera, and I’m through in no time.

Well, it looks like the immigration experience is about to get better for those in the US and Germany, thanks to the announcement of a new reciprocal agreement between the Trusted Traveler programs of both countries.

German-US-Passport

Via the CBP:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announces a reciprocal arrangement with Germany for each nation’s trusted traveler program—the U.S. Global Entry program and the German EasyPASS. Global Entry and EasyPASS allow expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

To register for EasyPASS, U.S. citizens must visit an enrollment center operated by the German Federal Police in Germany. Enrollment centers for EasyPASS can be found in Terminal 1 at Frankfurt Airport and in Terminal 2 at Munich Airport. To qualify, U.S. citizens must have an electronic passport (epassport) and be at least 18 years of age.

To register for Global Entry, German citizens must first preregister with the German Federal Police at an EasyPASS enrollment center in Germany. After preregistering, the German Federal Police will notify CBP that the applicant is eligible to apply for Global Entry using the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be made online. Once the application is approved, the applicant will schedule an interview with a CBP officer to determine the applicant’s eligibility. German citizen Global Entry members will have to reregister for Global Entry with the German Federal Police after their second year of membership.

Now, initially I was quite excited about this, but after reading it over a couple of times it doesn’t sound quite as exciting as I initially hoped.

This isn’t like the agreement between the US and Australia, whereby Global Entry members can use the SmartGates in Australia.

Instead, this is simply an agreement whereby Americans can register for Germany’s EasyPASS program, and Germans can register for the United States’ Global Entry program.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s still great. US immigration queues are often horrendous, so if you’re German it can totally be worth getting Global Entry. That being said, I don’t find immigration queues in Germany to usually be too bad, so it might not be worth it for Americans, unless you travel to Germany often.

Still, it’s nice to see countries work together to make the immigration experience more pleasant for low risk travelers.

Comments

  1. Well, in Germany you mostly travel first class, so I think you don’t totally witness the lines we mortals have ;). At Frankfurt, it normally takes me 30-60 minutes to enter the Schengen area. To exit, it’s normally quite fast. I’m a European citizen, so entering should even be easier for me than for an American. In short, for an American travelling a lot to Europe, this sounds like an interesting possibility.

    For a German travelling a lot to the US, it’s a no-brainer. Let’s hope the Dutch will have something similar soon 🙂

  2. Also worth noting is now US citizens can use the e-Channel entering/leaving HKG. To enroll, enter through HKG passport control in the normal way, and then just a few steps beyond is the e-Channel enrollment center. If you have a US-based airline “elite” frequent flyer card (i.e. UA, AA, etc.), you’re eligible. I went the other day – they took a picture, fingerprints, and had me sign a form. In fewer than five minutes – and at no cost – I was done. I used the e-Channel to leave HKG, and it was fast and easy.

  3. @ JMR — Hmmm, even when flying in first class I still have to go through the same queues as everyone else, and have never waited that long. Maybe I’m just lucky?

  4. As I understand the post.. if/when accepted I would be allowed to use the epass gates in FRA if my passport is electronic?

  5. @lucky: I thought first class passengers had their own queue, or at least some fast track option. I stand corrected! And yes, you’re lucky, it says so next to your picture ;). It might have something to do with the times I arrive, which is on one of the South American flights. This might be rush hour. I hope you’ll stay lucky with the queues, it’s no fun waiting an hour…

  6. @ wxguy – I thought you had to show that you would travel to HKG a certain number of times per year…though I may be mistaken.

  7. I’m assuming the necessary “e-passport” referenced is the new RFID style the US has issued for the past few years? My 06′ issued US Passport is a Frankenstein looking thing now, with new-style pages surrounding the old on either side. Not to mention it’s about half an inch thick.

    I frequently travel back and forth between The States and Frankfurt, but don’t know that I see this as a huge advantage. I rarely connect onward, and rarely run into lines that need expediting.

  8. Good to see this happening. Luckily for me the US already has such an agreement for Dutch people in place as well as for South-Koreans!

  9. @ Lucky – Are there any fast track options entering the UK for US citizens with Global Entry, besides at Shannon airport? Specifically, the customs lines after landing at Heathrow are atrocious, even with premier access. For me at least, the First/Business line takes well over 30 minutes to get through since oftentimes, there is one line with one agent (and it’s probably just my bad luck that I always arrive at the wrong time, LOL). Would love to hear that there’s some reciprocal program for us, since UK citizens can get Global Entry. Thx!

  10. Absolutely nothing new here! Trying to sell off them old stories as news, huh?

    I have been using Global Entry with my German passport for over a year. Look at the extensive flyertalk thread on this.

  11. And this is news why? Germans can apply to Global Entry since years in exact the way mentioned in the realease. One of my friends did that successfully almost two years ago.
    For me it´s a no-go because of the procedure. I have to apply, pay money (!) and than have to get through an 2-3 hour interview to maybe or maybe not be allowed to enter the US with Global Entry – as always depending on the almighty immigration officer. Thank you very much.
    I have to enter the US 2 or 3 times a year on business, but otherwise, I will try everything to avoid a trip there.

  12. wxguy – does the e-Channel entering/leaving HKG require the US passport with the chip?

    To enter Australia you need an e-passport. I still have the older non-e-USA passport.

  13. @wxguy,

    That’s not entirely accurate. I attempted this on December 5th in HKG. Handed passport to the e-channel Agent, with AA EXP card. Agent replied he could not enable e-channel after checking his computer, handing back my documents.

    When I inquired as to the reason, he said you haven’t traveled at least 3 times in the last 12 months. I asked why he couldn’t use my FF card as stated in the brochure, he showed me his manual that has pictures of only CX/KA Gold/Diamond cards.

    Unless you are CX/KA Gold or Diamond, you have to show at least three trips to HKG in the last 12 months. Keep those little slips of paper they give you now as backup (since they no longer stamp passports in HKG).

  14. AA hasn’t enrolled in e-channel. You’ll have to use other cards (whether UA, CX, or even TK). You don’t need three trips with any eligible frequent flyer card.

  15. @ AJ — Hmmm, was news to me and was going off the press release. Not sure what point of press release was otherwise. Sorry about that…

  16. I can tell you as a German with a work visa for the US and 10-15 flights a year to the USA I was excited.
    Used global entry for maybe 2 years now and still love it (and tsa trusted traveler , that sometimes confuse the tsa becaus of the usage of a German passport…..
    Jr

  17. Correction (or rather an update) on Australia… Australia now allows e-Passport from many countries to use SmartGate. For US passports, you no longer need to be in Global Entry.

    http://www.customs.gov.au/smartgate/default.asp#whoSmartGate
    Australia
    New Zealand
    United Kingdom
    United States of America
    Singapore
    Ireland
    Switzerland

    New Zealand has a similar list:

    http://www.customs.govt.nz/features/smartgate/whocanusesmartgate/Pages/default.aspx
    New Zealand
    Australia
    United Kingdom
    United States of America
    Canada

    You still need a valid visa, of course (such as an ETA for Americans travelling to Australia).

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