The U.S. Custom and Border Control’s (CBP) Global Entry program is one of my favorite travel hacks. In the two years that I have been a member of the program, I have saved hours of time spent at the airport.
Signing up for this program is surprisingly simple and straightforward, and I’ll walk you through the process of how to apply for Global Entry in this post. Additionally, I’ll provide an overview of the program and it’s benefits so that you can clearly see the program’s value.
Global Entry | Overview, Benefits, and Eligibility Requirements
Overview and Benefits
Global Entry is a program that allows those who sign up to essentially pre- clear for all travel into the U.S. for five years at a time. The main selling point for the program is that those who are enrolled are able to quickly move through customs when returning to the U.S.
So instead of waiting behind hundreds of people to hand your passport to a CBP agent, you can scan your fingerprints at kiosks in a separate line with little to no wait time. From my personal experience, I have never waited in line and often do not see more than a handful of folks using the kiosks with me.
An added benefit to this program is that once you qualify for the program, you also receive TSA Pre-Check benefits as well. This means that you can access the TSA Pre-Check line when going through security for domestic U.S. travel.
With TSA Pre-Check you have shorter waiting times in the security line, and fewer requirements at the end of the line. For example, you can keep your shoes on and don’t have to remove your computer from your bag. Global Entry is really the best deal if you are thinking about just TSA Pre-Check as it is $85 for 5 years for this program, but only $15 more for 5 years of Global Entry access. That’s almost as good as two for the price of one!
Contrary to popular belief, this program is not just for U.S. citizens! It is open to the following groups:
- U.S. citizens
- U.S. lawful permanent residents
- Citizens of the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Mexican nationals
Check out this page on the CBP website to get more details on eligibility requirements.
Global Entry Application Process
The first part of the process is completing the online application. To access the application, you must first create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) Account on this page. Once your account is set up, you will follow the prompts to complete the application. This application requires you to provide information such as the following:
- Address history
- Employment history
- Travel history
- Phone number
- Email address
After your application is complete, you will need to pay the $100 fee. After that your application will be submitted for conditional approval. This approval usually takes about 1-2 days, after which you will receive your CBP PASSID or known traveler number. At this point you are ready to interview to complete the enrollment process. You have two options for going through the interview, which we will discuss next.
Global Entry Interview Process
Scheduling the Interview
For the more standard interview process, you must schedule your interview appointment via the TTP Appointment Scheduler. Here, you can select the date and location that works best for you. This page lists all locations that offer interviews for your convenience. If there are no locations near you that offer interviews, think about scheduling one in a location that you plan to travel to. This a good option as there are several locations inside of airports, so you can do it once you arrive or before you leave.
One additional thing to note – You can try to complete the interview without an appointment if you are short on time before your next trip. Do this at your own risk, but I have friends who were successful in walking up and getting interviews on the spot.
At the Interview
You must take your passport and an additional form of identification (such as a Driver’s License) to the interview. If you don’t already have a passport, check out this post for more information! If you are a U.S. permanent resident, you must also bring your permanent resident card as well.
During the interview they may ask you a few questions to validate the answers you provided in your application. You will also get fingerprinted so that you may use the Global Entry kiosks once approved. As a final step, your interviewer will take your picture – beware you may not get much warning. This picture will be on your Global Entry Card, which is used for entry at U.S. land and sea ports of entry.
Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival Process
If you select Enrollment on Arrival for Global Entry, you will not have to schedule an interview after completing your application. You will just need to validate on this website that the airport that you are arriving at has this option, and follow the signs to the appropriate office once you land in the U.S.
You will only need the documentation required for your entry into the U.S. when you select this option. Also, the interview will follow the same process as the standard interviews. The only real downside to this option is the limited locations that offer this service.
After the Interview
If everything goes smoothly in the interview you will be fully approved on the spot! This means that if you have a trip out of the country the day after your interview you will be eligible to use the Global Entry exit lines upon your return.
Note that it may take a week or two for you to see the TSA Pre-Check benefits come through. But while you wait you should add your CBP PASSID or known traveler number to all your airline mileage programs and tickets so that you have the benefit every time you fly. Your Global Entry Card will come to you in the mail a few weeks after your interview is complete.
Bonus | How to Get Global Entry for Free
As I mentioned above, the cost for 5 years of enrollment in Global Entry is $100. It is possible to completely waive that costs if you purchase Global Entry with the right credit card, however. Currently there are a number of credit cards that offer this benefit to their card holders.
I will talk to you about the credit card that I have experience with: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This card has a number of amazing benefits, one of which is no cost of Global Entry. There are a number of additional benefits that this card offers such as travel insurance, no international fees and airport lounge access, but I’ll get into that in a later post :). If you are currently in the market for a new travel credit card, you should certainly check out the Chase Sapphire Reserve!
If you are even thinking about Global Entry, you should just go ahead and start the application process today! As I mentioned above it is one of my favorite hacks for a smooth travel experience. Also, if you would like to compare this program to the Mobile Passport program, check out this post.
Do you have any other questions on how to apply for Global Entry? Let me know in the comments below!