US & Singapore Introduce Bilateral Trusted Traveler Program

Filed Under: Travel

I can’t even imagine how many hours of waiting in immigration lines I’ve avoided over the past several years by having Global Entry, which is the US trusted traveler program that allows for expedited immigration formalities. In addition to expedited immigration in the US, there are a few bilateral agreements the US has, where members of Global Entry get expedited screening in other countries as well, and vice versa.

US Global Entry kiosks

Singapore is the newest country to introduce a bilateral trusted traveler program with the US. Global Entry members will be eligible to use ICA’s enhanced-Immigration Automated Clearance System (eIACS), and vice versa.

The catch is that this isn’t as simple as just showing up at the airport and using the new benefit. Instead, registration and approval is required. If you’re a Global Entry member, you can submit an online application to be eligible for Singapore’s eIACS.

In order to be eligible you need passport validity of more than six months, and need to have visited Singapore at least three times in the last 12 months.

You’ll need to submit an application, and will then have to appear for an in-person interview to get full approval.

Personally I think this probably isn’t worth it for my situation. I probably visit Singapore about three times per year, but I don’t remember ever waiting in line at immigration for more than a couple of minutes. Furthermore, the immigration officers are actually friendly — the only question I’ve ever been asked by them is if I’d like a piece of candy (don’t worry, my mother taught me well, and I don’t take candy from strangers).

I don’t see much in the way of time savings here for me, since it would take some amount of time to fill out the application and be interviewed.

Meanwhile this is much more exciting for Singaporeans, given how horribly unpredictable US immigration lines can be. You can potentially come out ahead after just one trip, given that we pretty regularly see lines of over an hour at select airports.

Singapore Changi Airport

Bottom line

It’s great to see bilateral trusted traveler programs expand. In this case, Singapore’s immigration process is just too efficient (and friendly) for it to make sense for me to take the time to register. However, I’m sure others will feel differently, and I also suspect many Singaporeans will find value in expedited immigration in the US.

Do you plan on registering for this new bilateral trusted traveler program between the US & Singapore?

  1. It’s more exciting for Singaporeans who travel to USA. Honestly, I don’t think the immigration queue at Changi is that bad for foreign visitors.

    That said, as a Singaporean, I love the ease on how I complete my immigration clearance everytime I leave or enter Singapore.

  2. I totally agree with Lucky–signup is not worth the effort for Americans visiting Singapore, but it could well be worth it for Singaporeans using it in the U.S. I have never had an issue with waiting in long lines at Changi. What other national immigration ministry other than Singapore asks you to take a customer service survey after you have passed through immigration?

  3. Psh, Lucky, you turn down those delicious Fox’s fruit candies? It’s one of my favorite parts about arriving at Changi – which is saying something, given how brief that experience almost always is!

  4. Waiting for GE; as there aren’t that many priority immigration lanes in the US even for J customers as a Singaporean.

  5. Just applied today. No special links, just apply on GAES website for global entry. Once you feed appropriate details, it says Singapore citizens are eligible for GE.

  6. Singapore and the US are already parties to the APAC card and if you have Global Entry and travel with some regularity to Asia on business (three times a year is sufficient, I think) you can get the APAC card. There is some cost but not onerous.

    The APAC card gets you through special faster lines. It doesn’t much matter at Changi because that is such a wonderful and efficient airport anyway. But in other airports such as Pudong it is brilliant – it can save you 20 minutes or more just lining to go through passport control to leave, even apart from time saved on arrival.

    I did the APAC interview at DFW airport between connecting flights. Couldn’t have been easier.

  7. Funny (sad?) how a small country like Singapore (5.5m people) can figure out how to welcome travelers while a large nation, the self-appointed leader of the world, has been totally failing at it. Totally.

  8. As an American in Singapore, I already have both Global Entry and eIACS, but this Bilateral Trusted Traveler Program is nonetheless good to see.

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