Nothing cramps the excitement of cheap flight deals to an amazing foreign destination like the bureaucracy of waiting in line with hundreds of other fliers to get through customs and passport control. And even if everything is on the up and up, you still have that nagging anxiety that something will go wrong (hey, customs declarations forms are confusing!). That’s why Trusted Traveler programs are so great! If you’re an international jet setter and you’re not a member of any Trusted Traveler program, you’re missing out. They allow frequent travelers to register pre-approved screening and clearance so they can move through customs way faster with way less hassle, often with separate entryways or lines.

The United States’ Trusted Traveler program is Global Entry; and if you’re an American who flies to and from foreign countries a lot, you should join. The 5-year membership (which includes TSA PreCheck to quickly get through pre-boarded airport security) not only lets you avoid lines, processing, and paperwork when you arrive in the US, but is also a pre-requirement for an American applying to many other countries’ own Trusted Traveler programs (as you’ll see below). There’s a non-refundable $100 fee with the application and you have to agree to a background check with an in-person interview.

After that, you can check out the following list of countries for one that you’re continually taking off to and apply for their Trusted Traveler program. It’s a guarantee to the smoothest international flight experience possible.

Germany

If you’re a frequent flier to the only country in the European Union on this list, then you should probably apply for the EasyPASS Program. It’s available in Germany’s major airports in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, and others. Members use an automated system with separate lanes to get around the long lines waiting for passport review. Applicants need to be 18 years or older with a US electronic passport. There are enrollment centers at participating airports, where you can apply.

Mexico

It’s not 100% clear if you need to be a resident of Mexico or not to register for the country’s Viajero Confiable Program, but if you’re regularly taking cheap flight deals to and from Mexico City, San Jose del Cabo, or Cancun (the airports where the program operates), you should look into applying. Members breeze through customs via automated kiosks. To join, you need to be 18 or older with a US electronic passport and already be a member of Global Entry. There’s a fee of about $84 and you have to do an interview at an enrollment center in one of the participating airports, which includes submitting your biometric data.

Once you’re all signed up for the right Trusted Traveler programs to get you through customs faster, you can take advantage of the best cheap flight deals for you!  

New Zealand

If you’re already a Global Entry member, you don’t have to join another Trusted Traveler program to race through New Zealand customs. There are dedicated lanes for Global Entry members at the nation’s busiest airports: Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch International. All you need to use them is a US passport and a Global Entry membership.

Canada

The NEXUS Program is a Trusted Traveler initiative that’s a lot like Global Entry, but it’s just between the US and Canada. Americans using NEXUS to enter Canada can breeze through customs via separate processing lanes and NEXUS kiosks. To apply, you need to be US Citizen with no criminal history, or pending legal issues (warrants, under investigation, etc.). There’s a $50 application fee and, like Global Entry, you’ll need to give an in-person interview.

Panama

If you’re habitually taking cheap flight deals to Panama, then you should look into getting the Panama Global Pass. Members can use a dedicated kiosk at Tocumen International Airport to clear Panamanian customs without having to fill out any paperwork or spending time in line. You need to have a US Passport and no criminal history to apply. Applications can be submitted online (there’s a $100 fee), but you’ll need to do an in-person interview at either the Panama Global Pass office at Tocumen International Airport or the National Immigration Service Main Office in Panama City.

The Republic of Korea

Americans who routinely fly to South Korea should totally apply for the SES Program, which will allow you to bolt through customs processing at specific electronic gates at Incheon, Gimpo, and Gimpae airports. Applicants must be at least 17, have a US electronic passport, and be a Global Entry program member. There’s a $100 fee and you’ll have to do an interview at an SES enrollment center in a participating airport, where they’ll collect your biometric data.

The United Kingdom

If you’re always pouncing on cheap flight deals between the US and the UK, then you may already qualify for the UK’s Registered Traveler Program. A US citizen needs to have visited the UK four or more times over the last two years to apply. The application fee is £70 (about $91) and there’s an annual fee of £50 (around $65) on top of that. Members can use ePassport gates at major airports, as well as enter the lines for UK / European Union travelers. Best of all, they don’t need to complete a landing card or have to do an interview with a UK Border Force officer.

Have you used any of these programs? Maybe we missed one? Tell us about it in the comments section below. 

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About The Author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.