At its meeting on 11 January 2017 the Federal Council approved Switzerland’s participation in the Global Entry Program of the United States of America and authorized the necessary amendment to the Federal Office of Police’s (fedpol) Fees Ordinance. From 1 February 2017 Swiss nationals can register with fedpol to participate in the program. The program facilitates entry to the USA following pre-clearance security checks by the Swiss and US police authorities.
US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) initiated the Global Entry Program to facilitate entry to the USA for frequent travelers at select US airports. Once accepted onto the program, the traveler can enter the country via an automatic kiosk. The objective of the procedure is to reduce the long waiting times for entering the US.
In order to participate in the program, applicants must be classified as a ‘Low Risk Traveler’. Pre-clearance checks and confirmation by the Swiss authorities are conducted by fedpol at a cost of CHF 100. The Federal Council has approved the necessary amendment to fedpol’s Fees Ordinance.
Low Risk Traveler status
Pre-clearance by fedpol involves checking applicants against the Swiss search database RIPOL and the Schengen Information System (SIS) for which they must sign a declaration of consent. Applicants must also submit a criminal recordsʼ extract and a copy of their valid Swiss passport.
If an applicant is registered in either the RIPOL or SIS database, Low Risk Traveler status is not granted and the applicant is informed of this fact but fedpol does not disclose the information to any national or international agency. If on the other hand the applicant has no entry in the police databases or the criminal records they are granted Low Risk Traveler status and can register with the US authorities for US pre-clearance.
Independent check by the US authorities
To gain pre-clearance by the US authorities, applicants must register with the Global Entry Program on the CBP website and follow the instructions on how to proceed. The US authorities conduct an independent security check on the applicant exclusively under the provisions of US law. The US fee for this pre-clearance check is USD 100.
fedpol does not save personal data or gather data on individual cases. However, on successful completion of Swiss pre-clearance, it does disclose the applicant’s first names, surname, date of birth and passport number to the appropriate US authorities with the applicant’s prior written consent. The applicant is also informed that personal data disclosed to the US authorities is then subject to the data protection regulations of the US.
Global Entry facilitates entry procedure only. It does not affect entry conditions or replace a US visa or the ESTA travel authorization for visa waiver countries such as Switzerland. A visa or ESTA authorization is therefore still required.
Registration will be possible as from 1 February 2017 via the fedpol Website.