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Copyright 2013 John T. Reed
Researching and writing my book How to Protect Your Life Savings from Hyperinflation & Depression, 2nd edition caused me to conclude that you should put your rainy-day savings in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Swiss francs. I also concluded that you need to find foreign countries—not necessarily those four—to which you can go on tourist visas if and when the U.S. gets hyperinflation and becomes unlivable. See my web article about when you should flee the country and where should you go if you do.
That has required some travel. To open a Canadian bank account, you must physically go there. We now find ourselves going there about twice a year for banking reasons, tourism, and to see one of my wife’s college friends.
In March 2013, we also went to Australia and New Zealand to scout them as places to which to retreat if and when the U.S. gets hyperinflation.
These increased foreign travels caused us to learn about GOES—the Global Online Enrollment System. It also seems to go by the names Global Entry program and Trusted Traveler Program.
Succinctly, it lets you use the “express line” when returning to the U.S. from abroad. It is not in all U.S. entry points. For a list of where it is, go to http://www.globalentry.gov/downloads.html.
It is for U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders), and Mexican Nationals.
It costs $100 and is good for five years if you are approved. If any information changes during the five years, you have to tell the GOES folks so they can alter your record accordingly. In my case, my passport expires during the five years so I will need to renew the passport and I think that gets you a new passport which means GOES has to scan the new passport so it will recognize your new one next time you reenter the U.S.
It is run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The way it works once you are approved is to use a kiosk at the border control point instead of getting into the usual line. You slide your passport photo page into the reader in the kiosk, look at the kiosk camera, and press the four fingers of one of your hands on the scanner. It uses facial recognition software and fingerprint reading software to identify you. It then asks what you have to declare, if anything. It then asks for your flight information. Then it gives you a receipt. You then go to the border guard in the booth nearest the kiosk. Meanwhile, the rest of the people on your flight are standing in the usual line to be able to talk to the border guard.
If the kiosk is not working, GOES members get to go to the head of the regular line.
This only works for you. Friends and relatives with you must stand in the normal line unless they also get GOES memberships.
You apply for this online. If you get a preliminary acceptance, you make an appointment to go to a nearby international airport for an interview and to get photographed and have your fingerprints taken. My in-person interview was on 4/24/13 at San Francisco International Airport. It was a non-event. Takes 20 minutes. Bring the email you got with your membership application number on it, your passport, and your drivers license.
If you get approved then misbehave—like try to bring in something you are supposed to declare without declaring it—like more than $10,000 in cash—they might terminate your membership in GOES. Ditto criminal charges or convictions.
TSA, the guys who make you take off your shoes and all that, is working on a similar “express line” program, called TSA Pre, which would apply to all air travel both foreign and domestic. Although GOES and TSA are not connected, under the current TSA pilot program, GOES members qualify for the TSA pilot program.
GOES IS connected to NEXUS (expediting crossing the Canadian border by vehicle) and SENTRI (ditto Mexico) and being in one facilitates you’re getting approved for the other. Your GOES Global Entry card is not used for entering the U.S. by air, but it is used for crossing the Canadian border.
Since my wife and I just got approved in late April 2013, we have not yet had occasion to use it. We will in July returning from Canada. I will let you know how that goes. A reader who applied on my recommendation months ago got his interview and approval faster and did use it and said it was the best $100 he spent in a long time.
Is this a really big deal? If you just got off an 11 hour and 13 minute flight from Auckland, New Zealand to San Francisco, YES! But in the grand scheme of things, no. If it helps you with TSA every time you fly domestically or internationally, then it is a big deal. And it appears that is currently the case and will be in the future.
GOES per se is currently more or less just a manifestation of being a competent international traveler.
My feeling about my using the multi-flag strategy (doing each of your various activities in the state or country that is best for it) and urging readers to do the same is I need to explain the theory, the empirical evidence as to why it’s a good idea, the practical problems, and the technical details and time and money savers available. GOES is one of the technical details and time savers.
Star Date 5/3/13
Got my Global Entry card in the mail today. I flashed it to my youngest son and asked for his drivers license and registration because it looks so federal governmenty and has my hologram-embossed photo on it.
Actually, it is a GOES card but you can only use your passport for GOES. The GOES card is for NEXUS, which is entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico by land. I expect to use it to enter the U.S. from Canada in July in a rental pickup truck with a camper on it.
Reading the letter that came with it I see that they call it a Trusted Traveler card. What’s that? You say you don’t have one? Well, if having one makes me a Trusted Traveler, what does not having one make you? So you’re NOT a Trusted Traveler—not that there’s anything wrong with that. (Although I wouldn’t want my granddaughter to marry an un-Trusted Traveler.)
Reminds me of the time I booked a room to visit my oldest son in NYC. His college, Columbia, is cater corner across the street from the Union Theological Seminary. The two schools have a deal where each other’s students’ parents can stay in the little-known hotel floors they have in their dorms. At JFK, as we gathered to get on the shuttle, the driver asked each of us where we were going. The others stated the names of their mundane hotels. I said, “Union Theological Seminary.” And everyone immediately took a second, closer, and somewhat reverent look at me.
Now I’m looking forward to bypassing the long line at U.S. immigration in the airport and having some grumpy line stander ask, “How come you’re a privileged character?” I’ll flash my Global Entry ID card and say cryptically, “Trusted Traveler.” If they ask what that is, I’ll just tell them, “I’m not at liberty to discuss it” and refer them to the Department of Homeland Security. Cue the Bond music.
The card comes with a metallic protective sleeve which you are supposed to use at all times except when presenting the card at the Canadian border to pass. “This will help prevent the RFID chip from being used by an unauthorized reader.” Like one of you unwashed, untrusted travelers.
Most fun I’ve had since I got my Flash Gordon secret decoder ring. I have now gone to https://goes.app.cbp.dhs.gov/ and “activated” my card. Note the dhs in that URL. It stands for Department of Homeland Security. Huh? Huh?
Okay, now move along. Nothing to see here.
John T. Reed