Chances are you’ve used a SmartGate to hasten your passage through immigration and customs when coming back into Australia. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get into other countries faster via a similar method? A new initiative announced by the federal government is looking to make such an arrangement with the United States, but odds are if it does eventuate, you won’t be able to take advantage of it.
The idea is it’d work both ways, according to ZDNet, so Australians would be able to use the US’ SmartGate equivalent, called “Global Entry”, while Americans would benefit from our streamlined processes.
Global Entry is not identical to SmartGate, however. While our system can used by any Australian or NZ citizen with the proper passport, Global Entry requires one to apply for inclusion and go through a pre-screening process that isn’t exactly a breeze. It’s only open to US citizens (and a few others).
On top of this, as part of the project’s announcement, Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare made it clear exactly what type of traveller would be the government’s focus:
“It means getting into LAX quicker, it means getting into America quicker to do business and it’s another example of our close relationship, our strong partnership, working together to ensure that our borders are strong and that business people … working here and overseas, get to do that work that they want to do as quickly and easily as possible.”
I’m sure frequent business travellers would reap the most from the agreement, but hopefully Clare isn’t pre-empting additional red tape (or outright exclusion) for us regular folk.
New Zealand, which uses SmartGate, has also been looking to expedite the customs process between itself and the US. NZ’s Dominion Post has the US Secretary of Homeland Security on record saying their focus would be “frequent travellers”, which sounds much more inclusive, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Image: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service