With countries growing ever more connected, global travel services such as fast track programs are becoming more and more popular and valued by travelers. As Travel and Transport’s Vice President and Officer of Account Management, April Wheeler, puts it, “As a frequent world traveler, one of the first things I verify when checking in is if I have my trusted traveler/fast track designation available for the trip. It makes a significant difference with pre-flight timing and preparation if I can utilize this time-saving program.”
Many of you might be familiar with trusted traveler programs available in North America and perhaps even Europe. But if your business travels take you to the Asia-Pacific frequently, keep reading to check out some of the trusted traveler programs available to get you through security faster.
Headed down under? The Australian Department of Home Affairs offers travelers the SmartGate system. SmartGate gives expedited self-processing through Australian passport control using ePassports and facial recognition. An ePassport has an embedded microchip and has the international ePassport symbol on the cover.
Travelers with an ePassport use SmartGate kiosks to gain a ticket which is then used at a SmartGate for facial recognition processing. After processing, you can proceed through the gates to baggage claim. There is no application process to use this service other than obtaining an ePassport.
Currently, this program is available in Australia’s eight major international airports, so whether you are visiting the Sydney Opera House or driving up the coast from Brisbane, you’ll benefit from the perks of this program.
To be eligible, you must be at least 16 years old and hold an ePassport from the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the U.K. or the U.S.
Smart Entry Service—Korea
Do your travels take you to the home of bibimbap and kimchi? Save time to enjoy more Korean delicacies by enrolling in Smart Entry Service (SES), a Korean immigration clearance program. Pre-screened and approved trusted travelers use biometric information at kiosks to proceed through immigration at three participating Korean airports (Incheon, Gimpo and Gimpae). For U.S. citizens to participate in this service, they must first become a Global Entry member and can then apply for SES. Membership is valid for 5 years.
U.S. citizens must:
- Be at least 17 years of age
- Hold a valid machine-readable passport
- Apply online and pay a $100 non-refundable application fee
- Schedule an interview at an enrollment center in Korea
- Provide biometric information such as fingerprints during interview
U.S. Global Entry—New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan
Many don’t know Global Entry partners with other countries to further expedite immigration processing including in New Zealand for U.S. members and by offering the program to passport holders in Singapore and Taiwan.
- New Zealand: U.S. citizens with Global Entry can use a dedicated lane when arriving at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch International Airports.
- Singapore: Citizens of Singapore are eligible for Global Entry and can follow the same enrollment steps for other countries.
- Taiwan: Taiwanese passport holders can apply for Global Entry after obtaining a Police Criminal Record Certificate from their local Taiwan Police Department.
For more details about enrollment and the program overall, see our article on North American Trusted Traveler Programs.
APEC Business Travel Card—Asia Pacific; Coming soon for U.S. and Canadian travelers
Are you an APAC road warrior with frequent business in the region? The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) offers a perfect trusted traveler program for you: the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC). This program is for pre-cleared, facilitated short-term entry into Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand and Vietnam. The U.S. and Canada are transitioning to become members of the program, with both countries working to issue cards to its own citizens. The U.S. has not announced the date this program will be available.
Admission to this program allows access through a fast-track lane to speed up immigration processing. U.S. ABTC holders can also use Global Entry kiosks, if available. Please see participating airports and specific details on each country here.
The application process and eligibility varies by country, but in the U.S., you must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- An existing member in good standing or be approved for membership in SENTRI, NEXUS or Global Entry during the U.S. APEC Business Travel Card application process
- Either a verified business person or a U.S. government official who is actively engaged in APEC business
If you meet these eligibility requirements, you can submit your application at https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov, pay the $70 non-refundable application fee and schedule an interview and electronic signature appointment at any CBP trusted traveler enrollment center. Already a CBP trusted traveler? You can skip making an appointment and drop into an enrollment center to give your signature. Once accepted into the program, the ABTC is valid for three years.
Trusted traveler programs are a great way to take some of the stress out of international travel and have more time to enjoy your trip. Hopefully one of these programs, or any of the programs available in North America and Europe, will be the right fit for you and your leisure or business travel needs.