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Global Entry: What Is It & How do I Apply?

Frequent traveler, casual traveler, and anyone who is sick of waiting in long passport control and customs lines when you’re re-entering the U.S., Global Entry may be the program for you. As a government run program, it allows those who are approved to speed through the passport and customs lines upon re-entry into the U.S.

Once it was announced that they were going to foot the bill for TSA Pre-Check, (this allows travelers to go through security a lot faster since you get a separate line and you don’t even have to remove your shoes, coats, belts, or laptop) we decided it was worth it.

We did some research on Global Entry and Pre-Check and chose to apply for Global Entry since approval in that program actually qualifies for TSA Pre-Check. It’s a no brainer. You are basically getting two programs with one application fee.

As a quick note, the application fee for Global Entry is $100 which is non-refundable and independent of whether or not you’re approved. If approved, you can use Global Entry for 5 years. In comparison, TSA Pre-Check costs $85 to apply and is also good for 5 years. Essentially, by paying an extra $15 (or $3/year) you’re getting the additional benefit of expedited security screening which we would value at way higher than $3/year!

Anyway, applying for Global Entry was quite easy and consists of 2 main things:

1) Submitting an online application,

2) Interviewing with a Customs and Border Patrol Officer.

The online application asks some basic questions about you, your employment/address/criminal history, and the list of countries you’ve been to (excluding Canada and Mexico) in the last 5 years. After you submit the application, you will receive a “conditional approval” notice the next day. This will prompt you to schedule an interview at an enrollment center.

The interviews take place at various major airports in the U.S. (for a list of enrollment centers, click here) so you have to make sure you can get to one. You can either schedule an interview at the airport closest to you or schedule an interview for an airport you plan on flying to – it makes no difference.

If you’re planning to apply for Global Entry, here are some tips:

  • Global Entry is open to the following travelers: citizens and residents of the United States, citizens of Mexico who hold a U.S. visa, citizens of Panama who hold a U.S. visa, citizens of the Netherlands who are enrolled in Privium, citizens of Korea who are enrolled in Smart Entry Service (SES) program, NEXUS members, SENTRI members

  • If you can’t get an interview right away, try checking back to find cancellations and/or walking in to an enrollment center.

  • Once you’re approved, you won’t need to fill out the blue U.S. customs forms anymore.

  • If you get a new passport during the 5 years your Global Entry is valid, you will need to give CBP your new passport information.

Do you have Global Entry? If not, do you think you will get it soon?



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