One of the best investments an American traveler can make is Global Entry. Now you can also get the German equivalent, free.
Global Entry: For $100 and a brief interview, with Global Entry you get 5 years of automatic PreCheck and a permission to bypass the long passport lines when re-entering the United States. The TSA sells PreCheck alone for $85 (5 years), so it’s just $15 more to skip those tedius lines after a long international flight.
Free German ‘Global Entry’ for Americans
It turns out that Germany has a similar program, that is available to Americans free. Their program is called “EasyPASS-RTP”.
You have to do the interview in Germany, but it is quick and easy and can be done right at the airport. You almost surely will get an interviewer who speaks English.
Interview sites are located at these airports: Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn (coming soon), Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich. Many Americans will find that Frankfurt is their likely choice, since it is a popular destination for overnight flights from North America. The offices open early, think 5 or 6 AM, so arriving passengers can apply before leaving the airport. No reservation is required.
Once you have gone through passport control in Germany, you are in the open-border Schengen area of Europe.
I can’t wait to do this on my next flight landing in Germany!