February 9, 2015

On January 15, 2015, after much speculation as to the specifics of the bilateral agreement between the United States and Germany, it was announced that citizens of Germany are now eligible for the United States’ “Global Entry” program, while citizens of the United States can now enter Germany pursuant to its “EasyPass” travel program. While both nations already participate in an entry visa waiver program for tourists, the new streamlined entry process seeks to expedite the traditional customs and declaration process significantly reducing waiting times upon arrival.

United States: Its “Global Entry” program is administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and available at 42 airports and 12 pre-clearance locations within the United States. The program allows for expedited clearance for pre-approved, low risk travelers. Upon entry, eligible travelers present to automated Kiosks, present their identification documents, scan their fingerprints and make a customs declaration. Prior to adding German nationalities to the list of those eligible, the program was exclusively reserved for U.S. Citizens, lawful permanent residents, Dutch citizens, South Korean Citizens, Panamanian Citizens and Mexican nationals. The program entails extensive background screening, document authentication and includes an interview. While not eligible for the “Global Entry” program, citizens of Canada can benefit for a similar streamlined process through Canada’s membership in the NEXUS Program. [1]

Germany: Similar to the U.S. “Global Entry” program, Germany’s “EasyPass” is operated by the German Federal Police and uses an automated border control process for eligible nationalities which now includes United States citizens. Through its use of “eGates,” the traveler merely scans his or her electronic travel document, and snaps a photograph at the “eGate” kiosk. Once completed, the individual is through border control.  For those eligible, registration is completed at enrollment centers located in Terminal 1 at Frankfurt International Airport and in Terminal 2 at Munich International Airport. U.S. citizens must possess a valid electronic passport and be at least 18 years of age to register. The program contains a questionnaire, authentication of travel documents and extensive background screening by the German government. However, unlike the U.S. program, the registration process does not include an interview at this time. [2]

Both nations welcomed the effect of the agreement, as the objective is to allow for both the U.S. and Germany to concentrate their resources on high-risk travelers while increasing efficiency at the border in both nations.

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[1] http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/about/eligibility
[2] http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/other-programs/easypass