What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is, according to the website, “a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.
At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.”
Essentially, Global Entry adds you to the USA’s trusted travelers list and makes coming back into the country from overseas a heck of a lot easier. Instead of waiting in long immigration lines and having to answer to border patrol officials who are not exactly known to have the friendliest personalities, you check in at a kiosk. Global Entry also includes TSA Precheck benefits which expedites the screening process at security. Here’s to skipping the long lines and not having to take off your shoes anymore at security!
Should I sign up?
If you are a permanent resident or citizen of the United States who frequently travels internationally for business or pleasure, it’s definitely worth signing up. If you are a frequent domestic flyer, then perhaps just the TSA Precheck is a good option.
How do I apply?
Create an account on the Global Online Enrollment System website, fill out the application, and pay the $100 fee. If you’re application is approved, they’ll follow up by email and ask you to log on to your account to schedule an interview time at the closest enrollment center. On the website, it says the $100 fee is non-refundable, but the credit cards listed below will give you a $100 credit on your statement.
- Citi Prestige Card
- Citi/AAdvantage Executive Card
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
- Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz
Interviews usually take 10-15 minutes, and you’re asked to bring your passport, driver’s license or another valid form of ID, as well as the notification letter that was posted to your account when you submitted your application. The officer will ask you a few questions, take your photo, scan all 10 fingerprints, and explain a bit about the program.
If you clear the interview, you’ll get what’s called a Known Traveler Number aka your Global Entry ID number. Add this number to the various airline accounts you’ve signed up with (Delta, American, Southwest, etc.) so that when you book a flight, the number will be linked to your boarding pass and TSA officials will be able to easily recognize you when you go through security.
I did my interview at the Orlando International Airport, and it was a harmless experience. The officer who interviewed me was extremely kind and just asked about why I was applying, my current residence, employment, and where I’ve previously traveled. He took a photo, scanned my fingerprints, and I was on my way. Piece of cake.
Now if only there was a way to expedite the checked baggage process…