Senate approves Registered Traveler for non-U.S. fliers

Foreign visitors to the United States would be able to sign up voluntarily as international registered travelers under a provision in the Homeland Security Department spending bill passed by the Senate last week.

The international program would operate similarly to the existing Registered Traveler program for domestic travelers within the U.S., sponsored by airports and DHS. In the domestic system, people agree to pay a small fee, enroll their personal information and undergo a security screening by the Transportation Security Administration. Once accepted, they receive an identification card with their biometric information that allows them to utilize separate, and usually faster, security checks at participating airports.

Registered traveler programs currently operate at several major airports, including those in Orlando, Fla., and Reno, Nev.

Sens. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) sponsored the amendment to authorize an International Registered Traveler program. The Travel Business Roundtable and the Travel Industry Association support the measure.

"If we can create an international version of this program, it will go a long way in helping to develop more strategic ties with our allies abroad and show openness to investment and travel in America," Martinez said in a news release. "In Florida, our economy is inextricably tied to international travel and making the process easier will be a big benefit."

Israel, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and other countries have already successfully implemented international registered traveler programs, according to Martinez.

The Senate spending bill still must be reconciled with a House version, which does not contain the provision.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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