Getting back into the United States after an international trip is an unpleasant process. You have to stand in long lines, answer endless questions from border control officers, and generally waste a lot of time.
However, there is a way to avoid much of this frustration. It’s a program called Global Entry, and it can allow you to re-enter the United States more quickly and with less hassle.
In this guide, we’ll look at everything you need to know about the Global Entry program, from how much it costs to how to apply. That way, you can skip the lines when you return from your next international trip.
What Is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows you to re-enter the United States more quickly when returning from abroad. It’s available at select airports in both the United States and abroad (you can see a full list of participating airports here).
Instead of having to wait around to talk to a border control officer, Global Entry lets you walk up to a computer kiosk, put your passport/permanent resident card into the machine, scan your fingerprints, and complete a customs form. You’ll then get a transaction receipt and can proceed straight to baggage claim.
To get Global Entry, you need to pay an application fee and go through an interview process (which we cover more below). But is it worth your time and money? Read on to find out.
Why You Should Sign Up for Global Entry
If you travel internationally with any regularity (even once a year), it makes sense to enroll in Global Entry. It will save you a ton of hassle and stress, as well as lots of time.
To start, you won’t have to worry about missing a connecting flight due to all the time it takes to go through customs. Furthermore, you won’t have to deal with the barrage of questions that the border officers throw at you.
Finally, getting Global Entry could motivate you to do more international travel, since you don’t have to worry about the stress of re-entering the country. This alone was a game-changer for me, and it’s made it more enjoyable to travel regularly to some of my favorite destinations.
Global Entry Application Requirements
So what do you have to do in order to breeze through the border? Applying for Global Entry consists of a few steps:
- Submit an online application.
- Pay a $100 application fee.
- Complete an in-person interview and background check.
- Wait to hear if you’re approved.
Let’s look at each of these steps in more detail:
1. Submit Your Online Application
To start, you’ll need to visit the Global Entry application page. When you begin the application, you’ll need to create an account using a username and password. This will allow you to securely complete your application.
The application will ask for information related to your U.S. citizenship, permanent resident status, criminal history, and right to enter the United States. You’ll also need to enter some basic information such as your current address, name, birth date, and phone number. The application will also ask you about the following:
- Address history for the past five years
- Employment history for the past five years
- International Travel history for the past five years
2. Pay the $100 Application Fee
After you’ve entered all the application information, you’ll need to pay a $100, non-refundable application fee. Note that you may be able to get reimbursed for this fee if you pay it using certain credit cards (see below for more info).
3. Complete an In-Person Interview and Background Check
Once you’ve submitted your application and paid the fee, CBP will review your application. If they approve it, they will then instruct you to schedule an interview at a local Global Entry Enrollment Center You can see a list of enrollment centers here and schedule an interview here.
When you go to the interview, you’ll need to bring a valid passport and one other form of identification (such as a driver’s license). If you’re a U.S. lawful permanent resident, you’ll need to bring your permanent resident card (note that the card must be machine-readable).
Here’s what to expect during your interview:
- A CBP officer will ask you questions about your international travels, citizenship, criminal history, and any other relevant questions to determine if you are a “low risk” traveler.
- The officer will also take your photo and scan your fingerprints (which you’ll use to identify yourself at Global Entry kiosks).
While receiving an in-person interview doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be accepted into the program, you shouldn’t have any issues as long as you’ve never been convicted of a crime (note that traffic violations don’t count).
4. Wait to Hear If You’re Approved
After your interview, all that’s left to do is wait for CBP to contact you about your application. They’ll let you know if you’ve been approved or denied. Assuming they approved your application, you can now use Global Entry kiosks to re-enter the U.S.
How to Get Global Entry for (Almost) Free
While the $100 application fee for Global Entry is worth it to save a lot of headache, it would be even better if you didn’t have to pay the fee.
While everyone has to pay the application fee, there is a way to get the fee reimbursed. The following credit cards will give you a statement credit when you use them to pay the Global Entry application fee:
Technically, these cards don’t make Global Entry “free,” as you still have to pay the annual fees of the cards. But the application fee credit will majorly offset the annual fees, and it’s worth taking advantage of if you were planning to get one of these cards anyway.
Global Entry FAQ
To conclude this guide, here are the answers to some common questions people have about the Global Entry program.
1. Is the Global Entry application fee refundable?
No, it isn’t. Even if CBP denies your application, you won’t get the fee back. This is yet another reason to consider paying the application fee with a travel credit card that will reimburse you.
2. What’s the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?
Some people confuse these two programs, but they are different. TSA PreCheck is a program that lets you go through expedited security screening at U.S. airports. Global Entry, meanwhile, lets you expedited re-entry into the United States.
While you can apply for TSA PreCheck separately, all Global Entry members automatically get TSA PreCheck as well. Therefore, you might as well apply for Global Entry if you’re considering both programs.
If you already have TSA PreCheck, you’ll still need to submit a separate application for Global Entry.
3. How long is Global Entry good for?
Global Entry is good for 5 years. However, note that this is not 5 years from your application date or interview date. Rather, the expiration date is based on your birthday.
To see when your Global Entry membership expires, you’ll need to log into your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) dashboard.
4. Do I need a special card or number to use Global Entry kiosks?
No, you do not. All you need is your valid U.S. passport or lawful permanent resident card.
5. Are citizens of other countries eligible for Global Entry?
In certain cases, yes. Citizens of the following countries are eligible for Global Entry:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
However, citizens of the above countries may have additional application requirements. See this page for more information.
Make International Travel Less Stressful with Global Entry
We hope this guide has helped you understand the ins and outs of the Global Entry program. For a more enjoyable end to your next international trip, apply for Global Entry today.