If you are a frequent traveler who journeys quite often outside of the U.S., there is a fairly high chance you’ve heard of Global Entry. But what exactly is it? Well, according to the official CBP site it is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. In other words, it allows you to enter the U.S. through the use of an automatic kiosk instead of waiting in those long customs and immigrations lines at the airport.
WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
There are only two steps that need to be completed in order to receive Global Entry. (1) You need to complete an application online through GOES where questions ranging from personal information to employment history are all covered. (2) You will need to complete an in-person interview with a US Customs and Border Patrol officer at your local enrollment center within 30 days of your application being conditionally approved. The officer will ask you several questions proceeded by photos and finger prints being taken. After completing that, you will be given a number which you will have to enter into your frequent flyer account’s “known traveler number box”.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
There is a one-time fee required alongside the application of $100 USD. This fee is non-refundable and can be paid by credit card or electronic bank transfer. The Global Entry will be valid for a total of 5 years exactly when you will need to renew it for another fee of $100 USD if you wish to continue with the service.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE?
Despite the common belief that Global Entry is strictly for U.S. citizens only, there are in fact several others that qualify and are eligible for this great service. These most recently include citizens of Germany, the Netherlands, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, and the UK. In addition, Canadian residents are also eligible for Global Entry through the NEXUS program.
IS IT WORTH IT?
For many, the fact that you receive eligibility for TSA PreCheck ($85 USD when purchased alone) alongside your Global Entry is reason enough to pay the fee and go through the two-step application process. TSA PreCheck allows you to go to a different (shorter) line for domestic flights. It is much faster since you don’t have to remove your shoes, take out toiletries, etc. So if you plan to travel outside the United States even once during the next five years, it is certainly worth the extra $15. When you re-enter the US after a trip, you must go through customs and immigration at the first point of entry. That means if you have a connecting flight in the US before returning home, you go through the process there.
So if you dislike having to wait in long security, customs, and immigrations lines at the airport after what was probably an extremely long and tiresome flight, Global Entry will save you a lot of time. If you have a tight connection, it might even mean the difference between making your flight or having to wait around the airport and book another flight to your final destination.
Many who have Global Entry would say that the time you save making your way through the airport far outweighs the money you spent on the process.