Guide to Global Entry

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Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program geared to frequent flyers who travel outside of the United States. Due to COVID-19, the program has been suspended until at least August 10, 2020. However, when international travel resumes, taking advantage of expedited entry through customs and airport security can help ease the stress of travel and provide you more time to explore your destination.

Once membership is approved, low-risk travelers can qualify for speedier entry into the United States after arriving back in the U.S. This entry is managed through automatic kiosks at participating airports, making the entire process fast and convenient for travelers who can qualify for this program.

While Global Entry sounds amazing, and it is, keep in mind that not everyone can qualify. Travelers must be pre-approved, and they must undergo a thorough background check and screening. You also have to complete an in-person interview at a designated Global Entry Enrollment Center after you apply and receive conditional approval.

If you’re approved, you may want to apply for one of the credit cards that reimburses you for both Global Entry and TSA Precheck programs.

Benefits of Global Entry over TSA Precheck

If you’ve heard of Global Entry before, you’ve probably heard of TSA Precheck as well. If you’re considering signing up for both, you should know that Global Entry includes TSA Precheck, so you get both programs for the price of one.

That’s the first benefit of Global Entry you should know about. Other than that, you should know that TSA Precheck only provides faster security screening for members for flights departing from U.S. airports. Global Entry offers this same screening plus the benefit of expedited U.S. customs screening when you arrive home in the U.S. after traveling abroad.

Also note that Global Entry costs $100, whereas TSA Precheck costs $85 on its own. Since Global Entry includes both programs, it is easily the better deal.

How to get Global Entry

Applying for Global Entry is an easy feat, but you do have to remember that an in-person interview is required. With that in mind, you may want to check for Global Entry Enrollment Centers near you before you apply. Some areas of the country make it easy to get an in-person interview, yet others require several hours of travel to get to an enrollment center.

Once you’ve made sure you can drive to an enrollment center, here are the next steps you should take:

Create a Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) account

Start the process by creating a Trusted Travelers Program account, which you can do using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website. To create an account, you must enter your email and create a login and password.

Complete your application and pay $100

Next, you’ll complete your Global Entry application. You’ll need to offer a broad range of personal information to apply for Global Entry including your name and names you have used, your Social Security number, your current and previous addresses and other identifying details.

You’ll pay the $100 Global Entry application fee when you apply, but keep in mind that many credit cards come with Global Entry fee reimbursement. With these cards, you’ll see the $100 fee removed from your account after you apply and pay with your credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is easily the most popular travel credit card that offers this benefit. Not only will you get up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA Precheck, but you’ll get a $300 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, no foreign transaction fees and 50% more towards travel when you use points to book through Chase.

Schedule an in-person interview

Once you fill out an application, you need to wait it out while the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol checks your application details and offers you preliminary approval. If your application is conditionally approved, you’ll receive a notification to schedule your in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

Make sure to show up to your scheduled interview with your passport and your driver’s license or other required verification. Once you complete the in-person interview, it can take another 6 to 8 weeks to receive your Global Entry card in the mail. However, this card is only for land crossings in the U.S. You can begin using your Global Entry benefits when you fly as soon as you’re approved.

How to use Global Entry for the first time

If you’re a first-time Global Entry member who has plans to travel abroad, you may be worried about using your membership when you land. All airports are laid out differently, but the most important tip we can give is to keep your eye out for Global Entry signs when you enter the airport from your plane.

However, you should note that not all airports offer a Global Entry kiosk. It can be helpful to check the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website ahead of time so you know for sure.

When you’re a Global Entry member, you can head straight to a Global Entry kiosk, where you’ll scan your passport and your fingertips before completing a customs declaration. From there, you’ll speed through a dedicated Global Entry line and head straight toward baggage claim and out of the airport, often saving hours of wait time in the process.

How to update Global Entry with a new passport

Since Global Entry membership lasts for five years, it’s possible you’ll need to update your passport while you’re an active Global Entry member. Fortunately, updating your passport information is possible using your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account. All you have to do is remember your TTP account login information, log into your account, and click on “update documents.” From there, you can enter your new passport information.

You do not need to complete a new application or interview unless your new passport has a name change or is a new document that wasn’t previously associated with your account. You may also need to schedule a new interview if your new passport comes from a different issuing authority, according to the CBP.

Can my family use my Global Entry membership when we travel together?

Only Global Entry members can use the Global Entry kiosk and take advantage of the benefits of this membership. This means you’ll need to get Global Entry for everyone in your travel party if you want to use this perk together, including minor children and babies.

This is yet another reason to consider travel credit cards that include Global Entry membership as a cardholder perk. When you have a few credit cards that offer this benefit, you can use them to cover a spouse, a travel companion or your kids. The fee credit you receive with a travel credit card can apply to anyone provided you use it to pay the $100 Global Entry membership fee for them when they apply online.

As you compare credit cards, also check for the best options for international travel, including credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.