Speed Through Immigration

Note: This entry is not specific to Costa Rica. For most travelers, there is no available option to expedite passage through immigration and customs controls in Costa Rica.  VIP access is available to certain passengers on a limited basis.

The lines at Immigration and Customs controls can be at least as frustrating as the lines at security.  Trusted Traveler Programs such as Global Entry can make this experience faster and a lot less stressful, but require an initial security check and a fee for “membership.”  Global Entry also makes it easier to qualify for TSA’s Pre-Check, which makes passage through many security lines go faster.  Other services, such as Automated Passport Control, are available free of charge to many travelers, and don’t require any sign-up procedures.  In some countries, expedited immigration and customs service is available to first and/or business class travelers with certain airlines.  VIP service is also available for purchase in some locations, or it may be provided without charge by a business or tour host.

For travelers who are citizens or permanent residents of the USA, Global Entry is the key program.  Citizens of Netherlands, Mexico, Panama, and Germany are also eligible.  Global Entry allows you to bypass the regular lines at Immigration and Customs controls at most of the USA’s major airports, as well as a few airports in other countries (pre-clearance).  Automated kiosks are used to expedite the process.  An application process and a non-refundable application fee of $100 is required, as well as a face-to-face interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer.  Some airlines and credit cards will rebate the Global Entry fee to preferred customers.  A background check and fingerprinting are part of the process, and applicants can expect to be denied if they have been convicted of any but the most minor infractions within the past five to ten years.  Global Entry is valid for 5 years and can easily be renewed.

To apply online, visit the Global Online Enrollment system (GOES) at https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/goes/

You can use your Global Entry status to access or pre-qualify for expedited access at Immigration and Customs in many countries.  Please note that some countries require registration and/or enrollment in a reciprocal program, which may involve security/background checks, interviews, and/or fees.  Some countries also require you to be a frequent visitor to qualify for their trusted traveler programs.  Make sure that you check the requirements of those countries and their trusted traveler programs prior to attempting to use your Global Entry or other status while traveling.  Not all airports accommodate trusted travelers or expedited entry.  The following countries have expedited entry and/or trusted traveler programs as of March 2017.  Visit the “Program” links for more information.

Country Program Fee* Details/Notes
Australia SmartGate n/a No registration required; Available to anyone with an e-Passport from certain countries
Canada CANPASS Air, Nexus C$50

(1 yr)

Nexus is a joint U.S./Canada program — Sign up via the GOES system
Germany EasyPASS n/a Registration required; Available to anyone with an e-Passport from certain countries
Japan Trusted Traveler Program ¥2200

(3 yrs)

Being a Global Entry member makes the signup process quicker and easier; Minimum visit requirement
Mexico Programa Viajero Confiable Mex$1461

(5 yrs)

U.S. Citizens must already be Global Entry members
Netherlands Privium (FLUX/RTP-NL) €121

(1 yr)

Available at Schipol (AMS/Amsterdam) airport only
New Zealand n/a n/a Special lanes for Global Entry members
South Korea

(Republic of Korea)

Smart Entry Service $100

(5 yrs)

Global Entry is required for U.S. Citizens — Sign up via the GOES system
United Kingdom Registered Traveler Program £70 1st yr


Minimum visit requirement
United States (USA) Global Entry $100

(5 yrs)

Sign up via the GOES system
United States (USA) Automated Passport Control,

Mobile Passport Control

n/a No signup required

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