Facilitated Entry into the United States:
Global Entry Program to Begin for Switzerland in February 2017
At its meeting on January 11, 2017, the Federal Council approved Switzerland’s participation in the Global Entry Program of the United States of America and authorized the necessary amendment to the Federal Office of Police’s (fedpol) Fees Ordinance. As of February 1, 2017, Swiss nationals can register with fedpol to participate in the program. The program facilitates entry into the U.S. following pre-clearance security checks by the Swiss and U.S. police authorities.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiated the Global Entry Program to facilitate entry into the U.S. for frequent travelers at select U.S. airports. Once accepted into the program, the traveler can enter the country via an automatic kiosk. The objective of the procedure is to reduce the long waiting times for entering the U.S.
To participate in the program, applicants must be classified as a “Low Risk Traveler.” Pre-clearance checks and confirmation by the Swiss authorities are conducted by fedpol at a cost of CHF 100. The Federal Council has approved the necessary amendment to fedpol’s Fees Ordinance.
Low Risk Traveler Status
Pre-clearance by fedpol involves checking applicants against the Swiss search database RIPOL and the Schengen Information System (SIS), for which they must sign a declaration of consent. Applicants must also submit an extract from the Register of Convictions and a copy of their valid Swiss passport.
If an applicant is registered in either the RIPOL or SIS database, Low Risk Traveler status is not granted and the applicant is informed of that, but fedpol does not disclose the information to any national or international agency. If, on the other hand, the applicant has no entry in the police databases or the Register of Convictions, they are granted Low Risk Traveler status and can register with the U.S. authorities for U.S. pre-clearance.
Independent Check by the U.S. Authorities
To obtain pre-clearance by the U.S. authorities, applicants must register with the Global Entry Program on the CBP website and follow the instructions on how to proceed. The U.S. authorities conduct an independent security check on the applicant exclusively under the provisions of U.S. law. The U.S. fee for this pre-clearance check is $100.
fedpol does not save personal data or gather data on individual cases. However, on successful completion of Swiss pre-clearance, it does disclose the applicant’s first and middle names, surname, date of birth and passport number to the appropriate U.S. authorities with the applicant’s prior written consent. The applicant is also informed that personal data disclosed to the U.S. authorities is then subject to the data protection regulations of the United States.
Global Entry facilitates entry procedure only. It does not affect entry conditions or replace a U.S. visa or the ESTA travel authorization for visa waiver countries such as Switzerland. A visa or ESTA authorization is therefore still required.