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Travel14 things to know about Global Entry

14 things to know about Global Entry

If you’re a frequent international traveler, you’ve likely come to depend on Global Entry as a way to return to the U.S. without waiting in the often-long U.S. Customs and Border Protection line.

Global Entry can help you clear customs in minutes. If you depart from one of 15 preclearance locations, you can even clear it before physically reentering the U.S.

Becoming a Global Entry member can take time due to the difficulty of securing an in-person appointment. However, enrolling in the program is still worthwhile. Although it launched over a decade ago, it’s evolved, especially since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

Here’s what to know about applying for or renewing Global Entry, including how to get application fees reimbursed, what to expect during the interview process, how to use it and how to deal with potential delays.

Using credit cards to get Global Entry for free


Though CBP charges a $100 nonrefundable application fee for a five-year membership, many credit cards reimburse these fees by issuing a credit every four years. If you have more credits than you need, you can also use credits to cover memberships for friends and family members.

A variety of low-annual-fee and premium cards offer this benefit, including:

Most credit cards that offer an application fee waiver also allow you to cover a Global Entry membership for someone else. So, if you have an unused Global Entry credit on your Amex Platinum, you could charge another person’s Global Entry fee to your card to reimburse the purchase.

Tips for getting a Global Entry interview appointment

Once you apply and get conditionally approved for Global Entry, you must schedule an interview appointment; this process has been delayed over the past few years due to an application backlog.

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For example, after being conditionally approved, it took me four months to secure an interview at my home airport.

After you’re conditionally approved, log in to your Trusted Traveler Program dashboard to schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center.

What to expect during your Global Entry interview


For your interview, you’ll need a valid passport(s) or permanent resident card and proof of residency, such as a driver’s license with your current address, a mortgage statement or a recent utility bill.

The interview should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes. During it, you’ll be asked a few questions verifying your identity and related to your application, including your recent travel history. The final step is to give your fingerprints and take a photo.

You should receive your Global Entry card and Known Traveler Number seven to 10 days after your interview. Use this KTN for both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck since Global Entry includes membership to TSA PreCheck.

Activate your card within 30 days of receiving it, although CBP says you don’t need your physical card to pass through Global Entry kiosks at the airport.

How to use the Global Entry kiosk

Once approved, using the Global Entry lane to reenter the country should be relatively easy, though the kiosk works differently based on location.

Historically, you would use your fingerprints, answer questions, take a photo and then hand the printout you receive to a CBP officer.

However, in some locations, that process has evolved to where you don’t do much of anything other than let the machine scan your face in a paperless Global Entry process.

Very young children may be too squirmy to scan reliable fingerprints. In this case, you might receive a crossed-out printout to show to the CBP officer.

Enjoying TSA PreCheck as a perk of Global Entry


As mentioned, a five-year membership to Global Entry also includes five years of access to TSA PreCheck as long as you add your KTN to your airline reservations when booking. You can also add it when checking in for your flight online or at the airport.

Though I’ve never been denied TSA PreCheck, it is not 100% guaranteed for every flight. In any case, you should have TSA PreCheck almost all the time you have Global Entry. Just make sure that the name matches the name on the ticket and that you’ve entered your membership numbers into your ticket purchase or frequent flyer account(s).

US citizenship isn’t required to use Global Entry

Global Entry is available to non-U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, India, Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Panama, South Korea, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan and Mexico can apply.

Canadian citizens and residents are also eligible through the Nexus program, which provides prescreened travelers with expedited processing services when entering the U.S. and Canada by plane, car or boat. It also provides access to Global Entry kiosks when arriving via one of eight Canadian preclearance airports in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Alberta.

If you’re a U.S. citizen who visits Canada often and is contemplating Global Entry, consider getting Nexus for expedited customs when entering Canada. Clearing Canadian customs and immigration can take a while, especially at certain airports. Once you have Nexus (as a U.S. citizen or permanent resident), you also get Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.

Nexus is half the cost of Global Entry ($50 per adult and free for children younger than 18). To enroll in the program, you must go to an enrollment center along the Canadian border.

For more information about how citizens from other countries can apply for and get approved for Global Entry, see the requirements and information from CBP. For example, the application process for U.K. citizens involves registering through the U.K. government and paying a fee of 42 euros before applying through the U.S. Trusted Traveler Programs website and paying a $100 fee to the U.S. government.

Completing your Global Entry upon arrival is possible


If you can’t find an interview or would prefer to make the process more seamless, you can try enrolling on arrival upon returning to the U.S. from an international trip. The service allows conditionally approved applicants to avoid a formal interview at an enrollment center to finalize their applications; they can instead complete the enrollment at the airport.

This service is currently available at more than 50 airports globally. To enroll on arrival, you need your U.S. passport (which you’ll already have if returning to the U.S. from abroad). Also, verify if any other proof-of-residency documents, such as mortgage statements and rent stubs, are needed to complete the interview. A full list of accepted support documents is available on the CBP website.

If open, this service allows you to complete your Global Entry enrollment interview as part of the immigration process when arriving at the airport after an international trip. To do this, plan to follow signs in the airport for the “Enrollment on Arrival” lanes — and be sure your flight arrives during hours when interviews are offered.

A CBP agent will complete your Global Entry interview during your admissibility inspection. If you don’t see any signs for this, ask a CBP agent.

Completing your Global Entry upon departure is now an option

As of February, conditionally approved applicants can complete the interview process for Global Entry in Dulles International Airport (IAD) when departing on international flights.

Enrollment on departure is available daily at Gate B41 in Terminal B from noon to 8 p.m. for travelers at IAD who have been conditionally approved for Global Entry.

Global Entry renewal delays are common

A Global Entry membership lasts five years and expires on your birthday that fifth year. To keep using it, you must renew it before the expiration date noted on your card.

Members have experienced excessive delays associated with renewals dating back to mid-2018, but there are additional delays post-2020.

Aim to renew your membership well before it expires to avoid any delays.

Because of the delays, CBP has extended the time you can use your benefits after your Global Entry membership expires to two years. However, you must submit your renewal application before your membership expires to qualify for this grace period.


Families must separately enroll kids for Global Entry

Parents can’t bring their babies or children through the Global Entry kiosks with them unless they are separately enrolled in the program; this means you’ll have to pay the $100 enrollment fee for each child. You must also schedule and attend an interview with your minor, even for babies who can’t talk.

However, TSA PreCheck benefits extend to children in your family who are up to 12 years old, so you can all use the expedited lane together when traveling domestically.

Families can use Mobile Passport to create additional profiles for family members, and up to four people can submit a single customs declaration form. If your family doesn’t leave the country often, that may suit your needs better than Global Entry.

Extra fees aren’t required for children who apply for Nexus (and, by extension, Global Entry) with their parents or for children linked to the parent’s SENTRI profile. SENTRI allows expedited passage into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico via SENTRI-specific lanes but also grants access to TSA PreCheck lanes at airports within the U.S. and overseas territories.

You can update your Global Entry when you get a new passport

If you get a new passport, you can update your Global Entry profile to match your new passport by logging in to your TTP account and finding the section marked “Update Documents.” Once you pull up the documents section, enter your new passport number to attach it to your Global Entry membership.

Should you have a name or immigration status change, you must go to a Global Entry enrollment center to process that change, but appointments aren’t necessary to complete these changes. Show up with the necessary documentation confirming the change and give the reason for your visit to a CBP agent. They’ll process the change during your visit.

If you have two U.S. passports, you must change the number in your profile to match the passport you’re using for international travel.

Global Entry cards are considered valid federal IDs


You don’t need to travel with your Global Entry card to use the Global Entry kiosks when arriving at U.S. airports. However, it is a valid form of identification that can serve as a legal alternative ID if you lose your driver’s license or state ID.

There are certain times — such as flying to the U.S. from Canada or arriving in the U.S. through a cruise ship port, including Port Everglades — when you may need to show your Global Entry card to access those lanes. The card can also come in handy for travelers who live in a state where the driver’s license is not Real ID compliant, as it can serve as an alternative form of valid ID at the airport.

TSA PreCheck cannot be upgraded to Global Entry

If you already have TSA PreCheck and want to enroll in Global Entry, you’ll still have to go through the normal enrollment process since you cannot upgrade a TSA PreCheck membership.

Should you need help deciding between the two, consider how often you travel abroad. If you frequently head overseas, you would benefit from paying the extra $15 (TSA PreCheck costs $85) to get the perks of Global Entry membership.

Is Global Entry worth it?

Global Entry can help you avoid long wait times when returning from an international trip.

Although it costs $100 and requires an in-person interview, signing up for Global Entry will likely save you time if you are a frequent international traveler.

Related reading:

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, click here.


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