United States, Britain ink traveler agreement

The United Kingdom and United States governments have signed an agreement to develop a trusted traveler initiative allowing prescreened passengers to receive expedited processing when arriving at airports in the other country, the UK Home Office announced today.

The International Expedited Traveler Initiative between the U.K. and U.S. was signed on June 24, according to the release.

The new program is expected to be aligned with the U.S. Homeland Security Department's recently created Global Entry program, which is an international registered traveler program.

Global Entry currently is only available to eligible U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who agree to undergo a background check and interview and to provide fingerprints. Enrolled travelers returning to the U.S. from abroad will be able to bypass passport processing lines and utilize a kiosk instead. DHS officials also have signed an agreement with the Netherlands to expand Global Entry to Dutch citizens traveling to the U.S., and to U.S. travelers to the Netherlands.

Under the new agreement, the U.S. and U.K. would work to develop expedited channel for participating travelers and will establish fingerprint, iris or facial recognition technology to speed up border controls while maintaining security, the release said.

"Speedy travel between the U.K. and the U.S. is crucial to large financial organizations. That is why today I was delighted to meet representatives of large city employers, including foreign banks, to announce an agreement made with the U.S. to speed up movement between the U.S. and the U.K. for trusted people who regularly travel between the two countries," U.K. Border and Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said in the release.

The U.K. in 2006 established a domestic registered traveler program utilizing iris scans to verify identity. Pre-enrolled and pre-screened participants receive expedited processing in airports under the program. About 200,000 have enrolled, the Home Office said.

In the United States, the Transportation Security Administration, along with contractors and airport authorities, sponsor a domestic Registered Traveler program that has enrolled about 180,000 people since 2005. The program is in effect in 16 airports, with several more airport authorities seeking to become participants soon.

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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