U.S., Germany will link trusted traveler programs

In an effort focus on national and travel security threats globally, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it plans to integrate its 'Trusted Traveler' program with Germany. DHS Deputy Secretary Jane Holl and Germany Interior Ministry State Secretary Klaus-Dieter Fritsche signed a statement expressing their plans to integrate the two nation's travel programs.

Both nations use biometric-based trusted travel programs which seek to qualify citizens for travel. According to a statement from the DHS, the nations are planning to develop a joint program which would allow citizens of each nation to apply jointly for the U.S.-operated "Global Entry" program and the German "Automated and Biometrics-Supported Border Controls" (ABG) program.

In the U.S. the "Global Entry" program, often referred to as the "Trusted Traveler", allows pre-approved persons to special passport processing that reduces their wait times. The system uses kiosks where approved persons are able to provide their passport or resident card to a document reader, then provide digital fingerprints, and then answer customs declarations questions on a touch-screen at the kiosk. Upon completing this automated process, they receive a receipt allowing them to leave the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol inspection area. The program has more than 42,000 members enrolled.

"Integrating one of our biometric trusted traveler programs with Germany's will facilitate legitimate trade and travel between our two nations while allowing law enforcement to focus on the most serious security threats at points of entry to our country," said DHS Deputy Secretary Lute.

German State Secretary Fritsche said it was a sign of "government-to-government cooperation," and that the move "will make transatlantic air travel easier and make it more secure at the same time."