Complete Guide to Global Entry: Must-Have International Travel Hack

by | Mar 5, 2023

If you are a frequent traveler, you know how time-consuming and frustrating the international travel process can be. Fortunately, for Americans traveling back to the United States, the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency offers a program called Global Entry.

If you’re an American who frequently travels, you absolutely want to be familiar with Global Entry since it can make your arrival experience on international flights to the U.S. much faster and easier. In this ultimate guide, we will provide you with everything you need to know about Global Entry, from eligibility requirements to application procedures.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a program offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Applying for Global Entry is such a huge convenience and time saver when landing back in the United States that it’s probably the best travel hack for any U.S. citizen who frequently travels internationally.

Instead of waiting in long immigration lines, Global Entry allows you to use kiosks and biometric data to have their identity verified usually without any lines. Then, an immigration officer typically clears you based on the receipt to quickly pass immigration without any line and minimal wait.

Benefits of Global Entry

Global Entry provides a number of benefits for travelers. Firstly, it allows for expedited clearance through automated kiosks at select airports, which saves a significant amount of time compared to traditional customs and immigration processes. Additionally, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck benefits, which allows for expedited security screening at participating airports in the United States.

Global Entry benefits are valid regardless of which airline you flew into the United States with.

Global Entry can be used regardless of the airline
Global Entry can be used regardless of the airline flown

Global Entry Application Cost

The cost of Global Entry is $100 per applicant. This fee covers a five-year membership in the program. The fee is non-refundable and is payable by credit card during the online application process.

For most frequent travelers, the cost of applying for Global Entry will be reimbursed by one of the many that reimburse the application fee for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. These include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express, the Capital X Venture Rewards Credit Card, and others.

Who is Eligible for Global Entry?

Global Entry is available to US citizens and permanent residents. It’s also available to citizens of several other countries, specifically Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.

To be eligible for Global Entry, applicants must meet several criteria, including:

  • No Criminal Record: Applicants generally cannot have a criminal record or have been convicted of any serious criminal offense.
  • No Prior Immigration or Customs Violations: Applicants must not have violated any customs, immigration, or agriculture laws or regulations in any country. Even minor violations may be disqualifying.
  • Compliance with CBP Procedures: Applicants must comply with all CBP procedures and regulations regarding the use of the Global Entry program, including the rules and regulations regarding the use of the kiosks.
  • Payment of Fees: Applicants must pay the required fees associated with the program.
  • Biometric data: Applicants must have a valid passport and be able to provide biometric data including fingerprints and a photograph.

How to Apply for Global Entry

Overall, the application process for Global Entry is relatively straightforward, but it may take several months to complete due to high demand and the need for a background check and interview. The time and effort is definitely worth it, though, if you travel abroad with any frequency.

  • Step 1: Create your own Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account on the official CBP website, regardless of your age. You will need to provide personal information such as your full name, date of birth, and citizenship status. Make sure your name is filled in exactly as it is on your passport including your middle name.
  • Step 2: Once you have created your TTP account, log in and complete the Global Entry application. This application will ask for information about your travel history, employment, and criminal record, among other things. A non-refundable fee of $100 is required for each application.
  • Step 3: After CBP reviews your application and conditionally approves it, you will receive instructions to schedule an interview. You must schedule this interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Each applicant must schedule a separate interview. You can also do this interview on arrival at an international airport.
  • Step 4: Attend the interview and complete the application process. At your interview, you must bring a valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine-readable permanent resident card. During the interview, a CBP officer will verify your information and ask questions about your travel history and other relevant information.
  • Step 5: After completing the application and interview, you will receive a notification about the status of your application. If your application is approved, you will be mailed a Global Entry card which is valid for five years.
Global Entry is a must-have travel hack for Americans traveling internationally
Global Entry is a must-have travel hack for Americans traveling internationally

Is Global Entry The Same As TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a separate program from Global Entry that provides expedited security screening at participating airports in the United States. While Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck benefits, TSA PreCheck does not include Global Entry benefits, such as expedited customs and immigration processing.

Renewing Global Entry

Once an application for Global Entry is approved, it’s valid for five years. Renewal requires a similar process to the initial application, including payment of the fee and submission of a new application through the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) website.

Renewal applications are typically processed more quickly than initial applications, and in some cases, an interview may not be required. However, applicants should be prepared to attend an interview if requested by the CBP.

It’s important to note that it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure their Global Entry status is valid before traveling. It’s recommended to start the renewal process at least six months before the expiration date to avoid any potential delays or complications.

Global Entry for Families

Families may apply for Global Entry together, but each family member must complete an individual application and pay the $100 fee. Children under the age of 18 must have parental or legal guardian consent to apply for Global Entry.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can Global Entry be used for international departures?

    No, Global Entry is only for expedited clearance when entering the United States from an international destination. However, TSA PreCheck will expedite security checks at departure. U.S. citizens who are approved for Global Entry are also cleared for TSA Precheck. The private program, CLEAR, is also helpful for speeding up ID checks before departure.

  • How long does the Global Entry application process take?

    The Global Entry application process can take several weeks, as you’ll need to create a Trusted Traveler Program account, complete the application (including listing all recent travel), receive conditional approval, and then schedule an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. Sometimes conditional approval can take days and other times it takes weeks. Once you complete the interview and are approved, you’ll receive your Global Entry card in the mail within a few weeks.

  • Is Global Entry available at all U.S. airports?

    Global Entry is available at virtually all airports with US immigration facilities, including international gateways in the United States and US Pre-Clearance facilities outside the United States. However, there may be some smaller airports that may not have Global Entry kiosks. If you’re flying into a small airport, you’ll want to confirm if Global Entry is available.

  • Can Global Entry be used for non-U.S. citizens traveling to the United States?

    Yes, Global Entry is available to citizens of select foreign countries, including Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Additionally, Canadian citizens can apply for the NEXUS program, which provides Global Entry privileges when entering the United States. It’s important to note that all applicants must meet the eligibility criteria, including having a clean criminal record and not being in violation of any customs, immigration, or agriculture regulation or laws in any country.

  • Is Global Entry transferable to other individuals?

    No, Global Entry is not transferable to other individuals. Each person must apply and be approved for their own membership. However, there are some credit cards that offer reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fees, so if you have multiple eligible cards, you can use them to cover the cost for family or friends. Keep in mind that each individual still needs to complete the application process and receive their own approval for Global Entry.

  • Can I use Global Entry if I have a criminal record?

    No, individuals with a criminal record or those who have been found in violation of customs, immigration, or agricultural laws are generally not eligible for Global Entry. If you have been arrested for something minor decades ago, you may still be deemed ineligible for the program. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection conducts a thorough background check before granting approval for Global Entry, and any criminal history or violation could lead to disqualification. That said, you may have the chance to explain at your Global Entry interview so it’s worth applying if there are only minor offenses on your record.

  • Can I use Global Entry if I have a prior immigration violation?

    If you have a prior immigration violation, it may make you ineligible for Global Entry. However, it is not a clear-cut answer, as it depends on the specific violation and the discretion of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Therefore, it may be worth applying and disclosing any past violations in your application. CBP will review your application and make a determination based on your individual circumstances.

  • What happens if my Global Entry card is lost or stolen?

    Applicants should report a lost or stolen Global Entry card to CBP immediately. In case of a lost or stolen card, a replacement card can be issued for a fee. It’s important to notify CBP as soon as possible to avoid any potential misuse of the card.

  • Can Global Entry be used for land or sea travel?

    Yes, Global Entry can be used for land and sea travel. You can use your Global Entry card for lawful U.S. entry at land and sea ports of entry. The card has radio frequency identification chips, allowing it to be used at Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) and NEXUS travel lanes when entering the United States at land borders. However, the card is not valid for entry into Canada via the NEXUS lanes. Please note that only your passport or lawful permanent resident card are accepted at Global Entry kiosks. The Global Entry card cannot be used at Global Entry kiosks. NEXUS cards are accepted at Global Entry kiosks located on Canadian Preclearance Airports.

  • What happens if I am denied Global Entry?

    If you are denied Global Entry, you will receive a letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stating the reason for the denial. Depending on the reason, you may be able to reapply for Global Entry after addressing the issue. However, if the denial is due to a serious issue, such as a criminal conviction, it may not be possible to obtain Global Entry. In this case, you may still be able to use other expedited travel programs, such as TSA PreCheck or Mobile Passport.

  • What is the best credit card with a Global Entry fee credit?

    There are several credit cards that offer reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express, the Citi Prestige Card, and the Capital X Venture Rewards Credit Card. The best credit card for paying the Global Entry fee ultimately depends on your individual spending habits and priorities.

Automated Passport Control/Global Entry kiosks
Breeze through passport control with Global Entry

Bottom line

Global Entry is an excellent program that can save frequent travelers a significant amount of time and hassle when traveling internationally. By providing expedited clearance through automated kiosks at select airports, Global Entry streamlines the customs and immigration process, making it a valuable asset for any frequent traveler. To apply for Global Entry, eligible individuals must complete an online application and attend an in-person interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. With its many benefits, including TSA PreCheck benefits and expedited clearance, Global Entry is a must-have for any frequent traveler.

Giovanni Hashimoto

Giovanni Headshot - Global Entry

Giovanni Hashimoto is editor of Travel Spill. He's a growth hacking consultant and an expert in maximizing credit card rewards and loyalty programs. Giovanni grew up as a third-culture kid and is a citizen of the United States, Japan, and Italy. He's now a digital nomad who's visited over 65 countries, often leveraging points and miles to improve his travel experience.

Giovanni Hashimoto is editor of Travel Spill. He's a growth hacking consultant and an expert in maximizing credit card rewards and loyalty programs. Giovanni grew up as a third-culture kid and is a citizen of the United States, Japan, and Italy. He's now a digital nomad who's visited over 65 countries, often leveraging points and miles to improve his travel experience.
All posts by Giovanni Hashimoto

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *