SAN DIEGO (CNS) - International travelers will be able to get through customs inspections faster at Lindbergh Field, thanks to a new system unveiled Tuesday by federal and airport officials.
The Global Entry program lets pre-approved, low-risk passengers use a kiosk that should clear them into the country within about five minutes, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. San Diego is the 27th airport to get the kiosks.
The program is intended for frequent international travelers, but there is no minimum number of flights required for participants. Applicants must pay a $100 fee, go through a background check and interview before they can be approved for a five-year membership.
Once Global Entry members arrive at an airport on any airline, they can slide their passport into a kiosk, place their fingers in a scanner, have a photograph taken and enter their declarations. They then take a receipt to show a passport control officer.
"The Global Entry program is truly a force multiplier," said Chris Maston, director of CBP's San Diego field office. "It allows low-risk travelers to complete the customs declaration forms and verify their entry documents and identity at the kiosks while our officers focus on those passengers we know less about."
Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and members of similar programs in Canada, South Korea and the Netherlands. It is also available to Mexican nationals.
Nearly 376,000 people belong to the Global Entry program. According to CBP, the 131,000 people around San Diego who use the SENTRI program to expedite ground border crossings from Mexico into the U.S. will also be able to use the kiosks, as long as their fingerprints and documents are on file.
"Now, thanks to the Global Entry program, travelers will spend even less time in our customs facility and more time enjoying San Diego," said Thella Bowens, president and CEO of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. "This is a great addition to the high level of service that allows (San Diego International Airport) to exceed customer expectations."
Lindbergh Field has a growing number of international flights, including to several cities in Mexico and Canada. British Airways resumed flights between San Diego and London last year, and Japan Airlines is set to begin service to Tokyo this fall.