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Getting Through Customs - Global Entry & Passport Kiosks

Getting Through Customs: Global Entry and Passport Kiosks

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My least favorite part of a trip is when it ends. Sure, I’m sad because all the fun and relaxation is over, but there’s also the logistical part of traveling home. If you’re flying from an international destination, you also get to navigate customs and immigration at the airport which can mean waiting in long lines. Fortunately there are a few options to help you get through those lines a little faster and make coming home a little easier.

Global Entry

Global Entry allows travelers to breeze through special lines at the airport upon arrival in the U.S. You simply scan your passport and fingerprint at the Global Entry kiosk, make a customs declaration, take your receipt, and move on to baggage claim and the exit.

You do need to plan ahead if you want to utilize this program. An online application and $100 fee per person starts the process. When your application is reviewed, you will be contacted to set up an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers which are located at airports across the country. Global Entry is valid for five years, so it can certainly be worth the cost and effort if you travel internationally often, especially because you can think of it as $20 per year over the membership period.

Automated Passport Control Kiosks

For those who rarely travel out of the country or aren’t ready to pay the $100 per person fee of Global Entry, the Automated Passport Control (APC) kiosks are helping to ease the immigration process. These self-service kiosks for U.S., Canadian, and other eligible travelers require you to scan your passport and then allow the machine to take a picture of you.

You answer a few brief questions and the machine gives you a receipt which you take to an agent that briefly looks over your paperwork, asks a few questions, and passes you through to baggage claim. There is no additional cost to using these kiosks.

My family has not yet applied for Global Entry. We’ve had good experiences with utilizing the APC kiosks to minimize wait times when returning from our international trips. However, other Hilton Mom Voyage writers have reported seeing long lines when the machines are not working properly, at airports that do not have these kiosks yet, and at peak international arrival times. Either way, though, it’s good to know that there are efforts being put in place to help travelers get home a little quicker.

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Robyn fell in love with travel before kids and has found it even more wonderful since her kids have joined the family. She is married to an amazing…

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