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May 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Traveling Divers Should Consider “Global Entry”

from the May, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

I have just returned from JFK, where I met with a TSA officer. I'm not in trouble, just approved for TSA's new "Global Entry" program. It's like a fast lane for immigration and customs. Instead of waiting in line, you swipe your passport at the Global Entry kiosk, fill out the customs declaration on its touch screen, put down a hand for scanning, and it spits out a card that sweeps you through immigration and customs. As the TSA officer told me, "You will never wait in line again." For me, that was the hook.

Global Entry requires that you apply online at, filling out an electronic form reflecting the efficiency of TSA (redundant and irritating). You qualify to apply if you meet five requirements:

* you are a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or citizen
of those countries listed on the site
* you have never been convicted of a crime anywhere
* you have never been found violating agricultural, immigration, or customs laws
* you don't lie on the application
* you are not being investigated by any state, federal, or local law enforcement agency

You swap some of your privacy and biometric information (all 10 fingerprints and facial recognition) for convenience, as well as giving TSA a non-refundable $100 for five years of Global Entry. It's not for the paranoid. However, Global Entry kiosks are in virtually every U.S. airport with international flights (including San Juan), and the TSA agent said that they are rolling out an analog for security, as well as working with other countries for Global Entry kiosks in airports around the world.

- - Mel McCombie

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