Global Entry is fantastic skipping the immigration and customs queues when you return to the U.S.
I didn’t love the fingerprinting or background check that went along with it, but I figured all my cell phone data was being logged anyway long before Edward Snowden was cool. So if the surveillance was inevitable I figured I might as well at least get the convenience.
Now that I have it, it’s hard to imagine life without it — and not just queuing up at immigration, but also that I always get PreCheck at TSA now rather than having it be hit-or-miss through my airline elite status.
A Customs and Border Patrol agent can mark you down with a strike that can take it away from you, though. So you’d better cross your I’s, dot your T’s, and respect their authoritah.
A reader shares this experience getting one ‘strike’ on her Global Entry:
…I flew from [redacted] to Toronto and so cleared US customs and immigration at the Toronto airport. I have Global Entry but my fingerprints do not record. I used the kiosk and replied “no” to questions on bringing in things/visiting farms etc. I was directed to secondary screening and explained about my fingerprint reading issue.
The officer asked me if I had any food, and I replied some chocolate candy. He asked if I had declared it on my customs form and I said no because I didn’t think I had to declare candy. He said I need to declare all food except gum and mints showed me the form said on line 11a
We are bringing back fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, food, insects
The officer told me that he was recording a “strike” against my Global Entry status–and one more strike and I lose Global Entry.
I sent an appeal to the Customs customer service website, asking that the strike be removed as I did tell the officer I had candy but did not know to declare it. I just got an answer back today saying the officer was in the right making this determination and I could have been fined $10,000.
I will now declare food anytime I come back into the country in case I have stashed a protein bar or cookie somewhere in my purse or suitcase.
My immigration attorney has said for years that non-citizens should avoid crossing into the US via the Toronto airport. Now it appears that US citizens should, too.
And be sure to declare chocolates, candy bars, chips, or any various items of sustenance whether open or closed, for personal consumption at the airport or meant as gifts. Even if it’s just chocolates off of your flight.
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