Mexico to let ‘trusted travelers’ skip the long immigration lines

Story and photo by Bob Schulman

Travelers pack a Mexican airport.

There’s good news for tourists and other travelers who go to Mexico a lot, and who belong to the U.S. Global Entry Program: The Mexican feds have come up with a way for you to skirt those long, long lines snaking up to the immigration desks at big airports south of the border. It’s already up and running at three terminals: the airport serving Cancun and the Riviera Maya, the airport at Los Cabos (Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo) and at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport.

What’s more, the program is expected to debut shortly at 10 more Mexican terminals.

The process is called Programa Viajero Confiable (or Trusted Traveler Program),  and it’s the Latin spin on a similar U.S. program in which incoming member passengers zip through special “Global Entry” kiosks at our international airports.

Like the U.S. program, the Mexican version requires wanna-be members to fill out an online application, then pay a fee (in pesos, roughly equivalent to US$100) on their credit cards (right now, only Visa and MasterCard are accepted).

After that, applicants have six months to schedule an in-person interview to complete the process. If you vet out OK, you’re approved for a five-year period.

Keep in mind, the interview has to be at one of the participating Mexican airports. If you’ve booked a stay at a resort in, say, Cancun for a week in August, and there’s an opening that week for your airport appointment, you’re OK – as long as nothing happens to scuttle your trip down south. If it does, you’ll need to make another date for the appointment on a later trip.

During your interview the Mexican examiner will check your passport, shoot a picture of you and take your fingerprints and an iris scan. Unless there’s a hitch in the vetting process, the next time you fly south of the border you’ll be able to simply slip your passport into a kiosk slot, look at the camera and put your fingers on a glass scanning device – then head off to the beach while non-member visitors are still standing on those snaking lines to the immigration desks.

You’ll find the locations of the appointment rooms at the Mexican airports and everything else you’ll need to sign up for the program on its website, http://www.viajeroconfiable.inm.gob.mx/index.php/home/.

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