Travel Tips

Global Entry – Who, Why & How

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You know that feeling when you’re getting off a flight you’ve been on for HOURS and you’re excited to be getting home. You leave the plane, walk down the hallway, and suddenly stop when you realize there are hundreds of people in front of you waiting to go through customs. No? Me neither. At least, it’s been a while because now I have Global Entry!  Another great example as to why you should listen to your mother!  Mine strongly encouraged me to get it when we decided a few years back that we were going to start traveling more again, and I am so grateful I did!

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I realize right now international travel is a little limited. However, one of these days we’ll get back to international travel being more common, and I would recommend you didn’t wait until then to start this process. Start now!

Global Entry is an expedited process through the US Customs.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that expedites the process of going through customs when entering the United States from a foreign country for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

Who can get Global Entry?

U.S. Citizens and U.S. permanent residents over the age of 18 may apply.  If they are under the age of 18, they must have a parent or legal guardian’s consent to apply. Citizens from these countries may also apply: Argentina, India, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan & Mexican nationals.  You must also be qualified as low-risk.  

How do I get Global Entry?

First, you will go in and create a Trusted Traveler Programs account online (one per individual applying). Then you will log in and fill out the application for Global Entry.  You will need your passport and a diver’s license for the application (and follow-up interview). The application will ask questions about your previous employment and residency. When the application is complete you will pay a $100 fee.

Once the application is submitted, they conduct intense background checks. If you pass that process then you can schedule your interview. At your interview, you’ll need to bring that passport and another form of identification, like your driver’s license.

Map and passport, ready to go!

There are only certain locations you can do your interview, so before you start filling everything out, I would make sure you can get to one of the locations. I had to drive to an airport about 1.5 hours away for my interview (which was also my hometown so the drive didn’t bother me at all).  Your interviewer will ask you about your employment & residency again, but then also about travel and possibly a few other relevant topics. If there was anything suspicious that came up in the background checks, they will also ask you about that. The final thing they will do is take your photo and fingerprints. The scanner where I had my interview wasn’t great and the guy had to really squish and hold my fingers down in order to get the prints.

If you’ve passed everything now, then they will update your status in your online account, which you can check at any time, and mail you your Global Entry card.

How Long is The Application Process?

It honestly varies. Once you’re past the first part and go to schedule your interview, you may not be able to get one for months. After the interview, I think it was just a few weeks before I got my card in the mail. If you’re even thinking about getting Global Entry for an upcoming trip I would start the process now!

(I know that there have been changes to the application process, specifically the interviews, during this pandemic. Check their website for details. I’m not going to list them here because they will no doubt change again, so just check their site.)

If you're traveling overseas, consider global entry.

How Long is my Global Entry Valid?

Your approval is for 5 years. Towards the end of those 5 years, you can renew your application through your account online. You will have to pay another $100 fee. I’m not sure how they decide if you should have a follow-up interview. I’ve known people that have had one, and some that have not.

How Does it Work?

When you are arriving in the United States from another country, instead of waiting in the long line to see the agent you will go through an automatic kiosk. Here you will scan your passport, scan your fingerprints, and then answer some questions about your customs declaration on the screen. Once you’re done it will print off a receipt for you.  After you have then collected any luggage, you will provide your receipt to the customs officer on your way out!

Stop wasting time in lines

Why Should I Get Global Entry?

  • If you travel overseas often this can be very useful to help expedite the customs process when re-entering the U.S.  If you traveled overseas just once a year for those 5 years, that’s only $20 a trip. Honestly, in my opinion, it was worth it if I only used it once to get through customs quicker.
  • You don’t have to fill out any paperwork. No more digging for that pen!
  • Part of the Global Entry program is that you are also eligible for TSA PreCheck, which is $85 to register for on its own. Just use your Known Traveler Number (on the card they mailed you) when you purchase your tickets.  You aren’t very familiar with the benefits of TSA PreCheck? Here’s why that’s awesome:
    • This is used when going through a security line in the United States.
    • You don’t have to remove your shoes, belts, or light jackets when walking through security.
    • You don’t’ have to take laptops and liquids out of your carry-on bags for screening.
    • The line is MUCH shorter and the process is expedited. You can get through security in minutes.
  • Your credit card company might reimburse you for the cost to register.
  • It is good for travel by land, air, and sea.

So, do you have Global Entry already? What has been your experience with it? Or, have you thought about getting it?

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4 Comments

  • Linda (LD Holland)

    In Canada we have a similar thing called Nexus and it is part of the Trusted Traveller Program. We too finally got tired of the long line ups when we returned home. We were happy when our credit card just added the benefit of having this cost covered. Don’t leave the country without it!

  • Melissa

    Great overview of the global entry program. I have heard of it, but haven’t really looked into it much. I was considering applying after things start to return to normal. I wasn’t really sure how the whole thing worked with applying and going through the whole process, so this info is very helpful! Thanks for sharing!

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