Global Entry Primer: How to eliminate the wait at U.S. passport control

Global Entry is a government program that works wonderfully

Global EntryGlobal Entry is important again. If you allowed your old memberships to lapse because you were not traveling internationally, sign up again.

Moving through airports is seamless with Global Entry. My wife and I learned, unsurprisingly, that three other flights were arriving within 30 minutes of ours. That meant that about 1,000 international passengers were all headed to passport control within a half-hour of each other. Arriving at the passport control hall we saw more than 300 passengers already in line.

Editor’s note: This Global Entry post is reposted here because of a recent trip to Europe. I noticed that my Global Entry status was about to expire within three months. So, this is an alert to make sure that those who have not traveled internationally during the pandemic years check their status. All Global Entry members can re-apply within a year of their expiration date. I have also added a section on the renewal process. Ned Levi’s post now continues.

My wife and I are Global Entry members. At passport control, we went to the Global Entry kiosks. After a quick scan of our passports and fingerprints, then a fast photo, followed by clicking off answers to a few customs questions (we had virtually nothing to declare), the kiosk printed our receipt. It took about a minute.

We walked to baggage claim and about twenty minutes later our flight’s luggage began to appear. Fewer than a dozen passengers from our flight had made it to the carousel. Most were Global Entry members like us. We got our luggage a few minutes later, turned in our kiosk receipt, and headed home.

Why enroll in Global Entry:

If traveling internationally even once per year, it’s worth the $100 cost to join Global Entry for five years. Eliminating the stress of waiting for an hour or more in the long snaking lines at passport control is alone worth the cost of membership. U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents have the bonus of being able to use special Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck lines. There, travelers keep on their shoes and belt. Also, liquids, laptops, and other electronics in carry-on bags rocket through TSA security checkpoints.

Special notice for Global Entry renewals.

After signing in to my Trusted Traveler account, a look at the Global Entry Website in mid-October showed this statement under your Renewals Pending Review section.

Due to a significant increase in application volume, we are extending the grace period from 18 months to 24 months for any submitted renewal application. This means you will continue to receive full benefits for 24 months while U.S. Customs and Border Protection is finalizing your renewal application.

An interview for program membership renewal may not be necessary. Once you submit your renewal application and fee, check your TTP account periodically for updates on what actions are necessary to complete the renewal process. You will receive an email when your membership status changes.

When you click on the Learn More in FAQs you will be brought to this page with more information.

Global Entry eligibility:

U.S. citizens are eligible for Global Entry. Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through the NEXUS program. U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents are TSA PreCheck eligible. There is no minimum age requirement, but those under the age of 18 require consent from their parent or legal guardian to apply. Plus, permanent residents and the citizens of Argentina, India, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexico are eligible.

Prerequisites for applying for Global Entry membership:

Applicants can have:
• No convictions for any criminal offense and no pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants, including for driving under the influence;
• No violations of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country. (Even being stopped at the airport, having accidentally brought in a piece of fruit from a foreign nation, can make you ineligible.);
• No ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency of the applicant;
• No inadmissibility to the U.S. under immigration regulations.

Applying for Global Entry:

1. You must create an online Trusted Traveler Program account. Each person, including minors, must have a separate account.
2. Log into your account and complete the application. At the end of the application, you’ll be required to pay a $100 non-refundable fee. The term of the membership is five years.
3. Wait. It typically takes one to two weeks to complete the review of Global Entry applications and run a background check on the applicant. CBP sends an email to the applicant when they have completed their review and changed the applicant’s status.
4. Log into your account. If you’re conditionally approved, you’ll be instructed to schedule an interview with CBP at a Global Entry Enrollment Center within 30 days. Most international airports have a Global Entry Enrollment Center. There are a few non-airport locations. Unfortunately, some states have no enrollment centers.

The Interview:

Bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification to your interview. Most people use their state driver’s or non-driver’s license as their second identification. Lawful permanent residents must present machine-readable permanent resident cards. Bring a print-out of the conditional approval notification letter. Present a good appearance, because CBP will take a headshot of you to be included in your file and placed on your Global Entry ID card.

Arrive at the enrollment center on time. The interview will take ten to fifteen minutes. You’ll be asked a few questions. Answer them honestly. They’ll electronically scan your fingerprints, take a headshot photograph, and show you how to use the Global Entry kiosk. When done, you’ll get your “Known Traveler Number.” You can start using it immediately for TSA PreCheck. You’ll get a Global Entry ID in the mail. It’s not used when you return to the U.S., but when you get it, activate it immediately. At the kiosk you only need your passport.

Even at $100 for a five-year membership, Global Entry membership is a bargain for international travelers, especially because it includes TSA PreCheck for U.S. citizens, nationals, and permanent residents. If you have the American Express Platinum card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, and some other top credit cards, Global Entry is free. The cards will reimburse your membership fee.

What makes TSA PreCheck valuable? Keep it that way!
What? You tested positive before your flight back to the U.S.?