Savvy travelers know the value of Global Entry, a US government program that enables expedited clearance for your arrival at a US airport when you land from international destinations. Fundamentally, the application and acceptance are a way of earning the government’s trust before you travel.
It’s totally worth the hassle. You won’t be sorry once you have it.
Buckle up. This procedure seems like a lot. But we help our clients through all of this. Here’s an overview step-by-step.
Glossary + Definitions
Let’s start with a glossary of terms and acronyms. Here’s a guide to the alphabet soup.
- CBP – Customs and Border Protection
- EoA – Enrollment on Arrival
- KTN – Known Traveler Number (This number is also sometimes referred to as your Global Entry number; they are the same thing.)
- TTP – Trusted Traveler Program
- TSA – Transportation Security Administration
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a part of the US Government’s Trusted Traveler Program (TTP). The Transportation Security Administration’s Precheck program (TSA Pre✓®) is likewise part of the Trusted Travel Program.
TSA Precheck is a program that enables travelers to access special lines at airports to get through security. Plus, you’ll be able to avoid the hassle of removing your shoes, belt, or light jacket and leave laptops and TSA-approved liquids and gels in your carry-on. This is a program to be pre-screened for domestic travel and does not include Global Entry.
Global Entry is its cousin that allows travelers to “skip” the often insanely long lines when they re-enter the United States when they arrive from abroad. You can also secure Global Entry for kids under 18 years of age. This program prescreens you for arrival to the US from international destinations.
Note that Global Entry includes TSA Precheck, so we recommend applying for Global Entry so that you have both.
Why Global Entry is Worthwhile
Your time is valuable. It’s your most valuable asset. And as of now, we can’t make more of it (unlike, say, money.) We here at PWT believe in doing all we can to make travel as smooth and as uneventful as possible.
The most significant advantage to Global Entry is improving your odds of successfully making your connection. International flights land at hubs, which means they are crowded. And Global Entry lets you skip the long lines.
And to be honest, airlines and airports remain strained by staffing issues after the pandemic. And airlines can schedule passengers for connections that, even under optimal circumstances, can be challenging. The airlines can categorize these schedules as “legal.” Still, if your processing through customs takes a long time and you miss your connecting flight, you are in trouble – not the airline.
Let’s face it, after a long trip home, you want to be home and not stand in a one or two-hour line at the airport to be on your way to your actual home.
Here are other benefits ::
- Enjoy no processing lines
- Be free of paperwork
- Move through customs with ease at major U.S. airports
- Relish reduced wait times
- Include TSA Pre✓® Eligibility
US Global Entry also includes access to expedited entry benefits in other countries. For example, U.S. Citizens enrolled in Global Entry may use the Smartgate system when entering Australia without registration. U.S. Citizens may apply for the Dutch FLUX program, the Korean SES program, Panama’s Global Pass or the Mexican Viajero Confiable program for expedited entry into those countries. Additional fees and enrollment interviews will apply.
Who can apply for Global Entry
You must be either US Citizen or a US permanent resident to apply.
You would not be eligible for Global Entry if you –
- Provide false or incomplete information on the application;
- Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants (including driving under the influence);
- Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration, or agriculture regulations or laws in any country;
- Are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency;
- Have been denied the purchase of a firearm;
- Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulations, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or
- Cannot satisfy Customs & Border Protection of your low-risk status.
If CBP denies your Global Entry application, you can request reconsideration. You can submit supporting documentation to clarify or explain an incident or arrest at that time. There is no additional fee for this appeal.
2 Other Points on Eligibility
- NEXUS is a particular bilateral program for US and Canadian citizens and permanent residents to be pre-screened and enjoy expedited processing when entering the United States and Canada. If you are a member of the NEXUS program, you are also eligible for Global Entry benefits once you provide fingerprints and document information to CBP. At some locations, when arriving from Canada and have NEXUS, you can enjoy the benefits of Global Entry at no additional cost through using the Global Entry kiosks for entry at participating airports.
- Citizens of foreign partner countries can also apply for Global Entry. Washington, DC, is an international hub with many foreign nationals, so we want to ensure all our clients know this little-known fact. Occasionally, an additional visa may be required. If you have foreign citizenship and are interested in the benefits of Global Entry, you can learn more here.
Those partner countries are ::
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Here are the steps, one by one.
Step One || Create An Account
Create an account within the US Government’s Trusted Traveler Program which you can do here. Click on the Global Entry option.
Step Two || Complete the Online Application
This application is lengthy. You’ll need to provide personal information such as your legal name, email address, gender, eye color, height, and language preference. Other information requested includes:
- Your alias names (if you have been married, divorced, or had a name change).
- Country of citizenship.
- Address history.
- Your travel over the past five years.
The application includes questions about any customs or immigration law violations. Be sure to complete this form accurately and honestly.
Step Three || Submit Your Fee
The fee includes both Global Entry and TSA Precheck. Currently, the price is $100. An increase to $120 is currently under consideration, which may occur at any time. You can pay this by credit card or bank transfer. If your application is denied, the fee is not reimbursed.
Many credit card companies will reimburse you for this fee as a benefit. Check with your bank, but some that do include ::
American Express Platinum Card® and Business Platinum Card®
Capital One Venture®
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
United℠ Explorer Card
Step Four || Await Your Conditional Approval
You’ll be conditionally approved while you await your in-person interview. CBP conditionally approves seventy percent of applications within fifteen days. Some applications require more review. The approval for Global Entry can take several months — currently, the government is estimating a processing time of four to six months. Some reviews can take as long as eighteen months.
The government will notify you of your approval via email stating that you have a message within your Trusted Traveler account. Once that happens, you’re ready for the final step.
Note that neither your Global Entry or TSA Precheck will be valid at this time. You won’t be able to relish all the benefits until you successfully pass your interview.
Step Five || Schedule Your Interview
Once conditionally approved, you have 730 days to schedule your in-person interview. But why wait that long? You’re almost there!
You can do your in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. And you can find the one nearest to you here.
The trickiest part is snagging an appointment, but there’s an app for that!
Global Interview is an app that will alert you when slots open up. Appointments don’t last long, so this app is invaluable and works well! Here is the Apple link.
There’s also Appointment Scanner which I also recommend. This service is for people who have filled out their online application, paid the fee, received conditional approval, and who then need to find an in-person appointment. Appointment Scanner sends you texts and emails alerting you to when a slot opens at your chosen location (of over 100 enrollment centers). The service costs $29, a one-time payment for one month of alerts. If you haven’t secured an appointment in that time you’d need to sign up again.
When you get an alert, you go to the Trusted Traveler Programs site and try to grab that coveted appointment.
If you are conditionally approved, you can also do your interview when you arrive back in the US from an overseas trip. The Enrollment on Arrival program (EoA) is an easy way to complete the process. When you land at a participating international terminal, follow the signs to Customs and Border Protection. CBP recently doubled the interview capacity, so it can be a speedy way to approval. Here is a list of participating EoA airports. (But remember after a 14 hour flight, you will be fingerprinted and have your photo taken.)
Step Six || Shine in Your Interview
You will get your photo taken for your Global Entry ID card, so you will want to look your best! They will also take your fingerprints.
During your interview, take the questions seriously. This time isn’t one for jokes or sarcasm. Your interviewer may question you on your replies on your application about your employment and past travel, as well as additional ones such as why you want Global Entry.
Be sure to bring the following with you ::
- A driver’s license or government-issued ID card.
- A printout of your conditional approval letter from your Trusted Traveler account.
- Proof of residency documents, such as a utility bill or rental agreement.
The interview should take only ten to fifteen minutes. Note that if you aim to do your interview via the Enrollment at Arrival program, be sure to pack these with you before you leave!
You can be approved on the spot and then given your Known Traveler Number (KTN), which you can begin using immediately. I recommend you store your KTN on your phone. Premier Wellness Travel maintains a profile for each of our clients that stores this number (and other traveler membership numbers) for easy access and retrieval.
You’ll always want to add this number to any tickets you purchase to enjoy all the benefits of Global Entry and TSA Precheck. I confess that more than once, I have forgotten to do that. And then I have had to dash back to the check-in counter in order to enjoy the short line!
Step Seven || Activate Your Global Entry Membership
Your official Global Entry ID card should arrive to you via US Post within two weeks. Officially, the governments says new enrollees will receive their Global Entry card 7-10 business days after approval. Then, you will need to go into your Trusted Traveler account to activate it, which you must do within 30 days. You will not have to show this card at the airport. You do have to show this card if you are entering the United States by land or sea. I always keep it with my passport and travel with it because you never know if your arrival plans may change.
Step Eight || Enjoy Your Benefits
After you secure your Global Entry, when you arrive in the United States, you go to a special Global Entry kiosk and are quickly on your way. I love the part where the officer says, “Welcome home, Miss Metzger.” At Dulles Airport just outside of DC, so many residents are part of the program that occasionally, the line for Global Entry is longer. But only rarely, and it always makes me laugh because it’s probably only at Dulles!
When will you need to renew?
Your Global Entry membership is valid for five years. The expiration date of your Global Entry membership is printed on your Global Entry ID card. You’ll also get a notification via email informing you of your expiration date.
If you wish to renew, you must do it before your Global Entry membership expires. You are eligible to renew your membership one year prior to your membership expiration.
And if you submit a renewal application before your membership expires, you will be able to continue to use benefits up to 24 months after your membership expiration date, if your renewal does not get processed in time.
If you don’t renew, you’ll lose your benefits (including TSA PreCheck) and need to re-enroll. And go through all the steps above again.
So the renewal process is easier than re-enrolling, because you’ll already have an account. During the renewal process you will have to add any new addresses or employment changes and list the countries you’ve visited since joining Global Entry.
Some renewal applicants aren’t required to do another interview and some are. The CBP vetting center determines if you’re one of the lucky ones or not. You will be notified if another interview is required.
Here is the official US Government FAQs about Global Entry.
Good luck! If you are a Premier Wellness Travel client we are happy to assist.