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Global Entry: How to Sign Up Today

If you want to be a savvy traveler, you’re constantly looking for the best deals and features to give you an advantage while trekking the globe. Sometimes you will benefit from buying your tickets at the right time or simply knowing where to go for the lowest price. Not all traveling advantages worth seeking out are issues of money, as time is an even more limited resource. One of the most buzzworthy trends to investigate when flying these days is Global Entry. How can you know if you’re eligible or if it’s worth your time? You may not even understand what it is. Let us help you out with that.

What is Global Entry?

Over the years, a number of special programs have been rolled out to improve air travel. Companies have focused on making the flight experience better by offering competitive fares, rewards programs, and more, but they aren’t the only ones who want to make airports worth the hassle. The government has created a few options of its own to make your day(s) of air travel easier, by offering programs such as Global Entry. This elite status is meant to expedite the process of returning to the U.S. following a trip outside its borders. Using pre-screening checks, fingerprint scans, and other criteria, Global Entry is meant to eliminate long lines through Customs that bog down airports and annoy flyers from around the world.

Benefits of Global Entry

For the frequent airport guest, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry program is a wonderful thing. If you’ve ever flown outside of the United States, you know there are two things you will have to do upon your arrival home in America.

The first is something done in every country. Once your plane has landed, you must fill out a sheet answering questions based on what you are bringing into the country. Secondly, you will have to wait in a long line as passengers check in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These lines can often eat up more than an hour of time as each individual entering the country must present his passport to a Customs official and possibly answer a few questions. If you are meeting a connecting flight afterwards, these lines can be the difference between making your plane or not.

With Global Entry, not only do you not need to fill out the paper form, you can also skip this massive line and go right to the front. Even if you are not flying outside of the U.S., Global Entry members also receive TSA PreCheck status*. This means you can enjoy special privileges when passing through security checkpoints regardless of whether you are traveling domestically or internationally. The benefits of Global Entry are not limited to those who are flying, as motorists and sea passengers who come into the U.S. may also receive expedited journeys through Customs.

*We will point out that while Global Entry members are eligible for TSA PreCheck and most often receive this designation, there are a few occasions when a member’s ticket will not have this status.

How Do I Sign Up for Global Entry?

We know some of you are already salivating at the prospect of avoiding the dreaded Customs station, so let’s go ahead and tell you how to sign up for Global Entry. The first thing you’ll want to do is create a profile under the Trusted Traveler Programs with the Department of Homeland Security. Global Entry is merely one of the several programs under this banner which includes TSA PreCheck, NEXUS, and others. Once you have created your account, you may fill out the application for Global Entry status and pay the non-refundable $100 fee.

After a few business days, you should receive email confirmation from CBP declaring you are “conditionally approved.” The reason why you aren’t fully approved is because you must complete an in-person interview at a participating airport’s Global Entry Enrollment Center (GEEC) before they will give you full status. These select locations are most often found at airports in major metropolitan areas. Your interview at the GEEC may not happen for several weeks, so we encourage you to look into Global Entry long before you may need it.

Your interview at the GEEC will include similar questions to what you’d expect when applying for a passport or going through Customs. Remember that this is security protocol for air travel, not something as simple as getting a government ID at your local motor vehicle center. If you have a questionable criminal record or immigration status, this may take a little while. Know there is a possibility you will be turned down for Global Entry and lose your $100 application fee. In some cases, you may be able to have your interview conducted on the date of your flight, but you’ll want to schedule enough time for this if possible. Also, be sure to bring your passport and another form of ID to the interview.

Shortly after your interview has been conducted, you will receive another email telling you whether or not you have fully qualified for the Global Entry program. While you will not need it at the airport, you will be mailed a membership card that may come in handy when driving into the U.S. from Canada/Mexico or arriving by ship. This membership with Global Entry will be good for five years.

Who All is Eligible for this Program?

Although we all want to skip long lines at the airport, there are only select individuals who are eligible for this program. In addition to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents of the United States, citizens of many popular countries are eligible for Global Entry. These include citizens of Argentina, India, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexican Nationals. For more information on who can be a Global Entry member, click here. We will also remind you that being eligible for this program does not mean you will automatically be accepted, so be careful when you are filling out forms and going to your interview.

How Do I Use My Global Entry Membership?

Using your new Global Entry status is simple. Having your passport on hand and knowing your Known Traveler number, you’re all set for your next international journey. Check out this video from CBP explaining how to use your membership as well as the differences between Global Entry and Automated Passport Control.

We hope this summary of Global Entry and how to apply helps you make an informed decision about your travel needs. No matter what you choose to do, at least you now know the basics.

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