Skip Long Airport Lines with Global Entry

Skip Long Airport Lines with Global Entry

Posted May 9, 2016

The benefits of international travel are almost too numerous to mention – exploring faraway places, meeting new people, discovering fascinating cultures ... the list goes on.  One of the few possible downsides to these adventures, though, is the inevitable wait at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when arriving back home.  But with a program called Global Entry, you could be breezing past lines and on your way home in no time.  Learn about this program with our primer below.

What is Global Entry?

It’s a program from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that allows “Trusted Travelers” to receive expedited clearance upon return to the United States.  Global Entry status is good for five years before needing renewal.

How does it work?

After you get approved (a process we’ll explain shortly), you can skip the lines for Customs upon returning to the United States and proceed to a Global Entry automated kiosk.  There, you’ll scan your passport (or permanent residency card) and place your fingerprints on the kiosk’s screen to ensure your identification.  After a quick Customs Declaration completed at the kiosk, you’ll receive a receipt and be directed to baggage claim, and the exit.

What are some benefits of the program?

In addition to skipping the Customs line upon your return to the U.S., you’ll also receive TSA PreCheck status for all your flights (an $85 value).  This allows you to pass through airport security lines without removing your shoes, belt, or laptop.  You’ll also be able to use programs similar to Global Entry in other countries (such as Australia and New Zealand’s SmartGate, Germany’s ABG+, and Mexico’s Viajero Confiable).

How do I apply?

Visit the U.S. Government’s Global Online Enrollment System, select “Register,” then log in and complete the application (a $100 fee is required with each individual application).  The CBP will then review your application and, if you’re approved, will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.  Each individual must schedule a separate interview, and must bring their passport and one other form of ID (driver’s license, ID card, etc.).  This interview takes only a few minutes, during which you will be digitally fingerprinted and given quick instructions on how to use the kiosks.  After your interview, you’ll be fully approved and ready to use the Global Entry program.

When should I do this?

As soon as you can! It doesn’t pay to wait until the last minute, as appointment slots tend to fill up and it could take a few weeks (and often, a month or more) to find an open appointment at your nearest Enrollment Center.

Once you’re successfully enrolled in the program, you’ll receive a Global Entry card containing your unique ID number.  This works the same way as the Known Traveler Number from TSA PreCheck, and entering it during airline booking guarantees your TSA PreCheck status. 

We hope this information helps improve your airport experience, allowing you to fully appreciate the wonders that the world of travel has to offer.

Airport image via Flickr