Waiting at the airport can be exhausting. The check-in and security line wait times are the biggest complaints people have when it comes to air travel.
In this guide we reveal a much faster way to get through airport security through one of the more popular Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) called Global Entry.
We will analyzed the pros and cons, whether it is the right program for you and we will provide a step-by-step process of applying for Global Entry.
As a Global Entry member, you will get through airport security much faster. You will be able to use shorter, dedicated security lines and you will be able to keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on, and not have to take anything out of your luggage.
As the name suggests, Global Entry is an international program that gives you faster security experience when returning to the U.S. from international destination. Additionally, Global Entry membership automatically gives you the privilege to use the TSA PreCheck security lanes when traveling domestically within the U.S.
For these great benefits, Global Entry is a must-have for anyone who travels by air, especially if you travel internationally.
We will explore the ins and outs of the program, talk about where an how you can use the benefits, and discuss other Trusted Traveler programs so you can decide which one is right for you. Additionally we will also offer some tips on how you can get reimbursed for the program membership fees!
So, hang in there if you're currently waiting in line, we strive to be both succinct and informative and we hope we can help speed up your next airport experience!
If you travel internationally you know that coming back to the U.S. through customs can often be a pretty difficulty and slow process.
And with the number of security threats around the world, the security and customs process has only gotten worse.
In order to manage the number of travelers and to expedite the customs and security process, the U.S. government created a number of trusted traveler programs.
Global Entry is a membership program administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The concept is that to become a member, you go through a vigorous background check.
Therefore, as a Global Entry member, you are considered a "low-risk" traveler and can therefore have an expedited security and customs clearance.
Normally when you re-enter the U.S. you get off the plane and have to wait in a long line to go through customs.
As a Global entry member however, you can skip these lines and use an automated kiosk to be processed.
At the Global Entry Kiosk, you simply scan your machine-readable passport (or U.S. Permanent Resident Card), give a fingerprint scan, and complete a customs declaration. Once done, you receive a transaction receipt and may go directly to baggage claim. That's it!
In short, it really speeds up the process of getting back into the Unites States.
Global Entry is one of the most used Trusted Traveler Program but here is the summary of the 5 major programs:
|Program Name||Program Details|
|TSA PreCheck||Travel within the US (from U.S. Airports)|
|GLOBAL ENTRY||Entry into the U.S. from International Destinations|
|NEXUS||Entry into the U.S. from Canada|
|SENTRI||Entry into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico|
|FAST||For commercial truck trucking between to/from the U.S. from Canada and Mexico|
Time: As with other Trusted Traveler programs the key benefit of Global Entry is that it will save you time and stress at the airport.
Global Entry Kiosk: Specifically Global Entry entitles you to skip the customs lines when re-entering the U.S. Instead, you simply go to an automated Global Entry Kiosk and then to baggage claim (if you have bags).
So how much time can you save? Well, that really depends on a lot of factors. Which airport, what time you arrive, how many agents are working etc.
Customs wait time typically average between 15-25 minutes but often are as long as 90-120 minutes and even more. You can check specific recorded customs wait times on the CPB website.
Using a Global Entry Kiosk = customs process in 5 minutes !
With Global Entry, it doesn't matter what time of year or how busy the normal customs lines are. Skip the lines and just head to the kiosks!
Less paperwork since your declarations are completed digitally at the Kiosk.
Keep in mind that due to security and customs policies, in some cases the Global Entry Kiosk may direct you to go see a customs official. Don't worry if this happens; it is normally just based on random selection.
Head of the line privilege. If the Global Entry kiosks are out of order you may go ahead of the customs line.
Bonus Benefit: Global Entry gives you access to other Trusted Traveler program benefits.
TSA PreCheck privileges. As a Global Entry member, you automatically are signed up for, and are entitled to use the TSA PreCheck security lines. This allows you to use special security lanes, reserved for members, and you won't have to take of your belts, jackets etc or take your belongings out of your luggage.
Find out how TSA PreCheck works!
You may also use NEXUS and SENTRI lanes when entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico. Global Entry, as the name states is for entry... it does not give you privilege to enter Mexico or Canada.
Bottom line: Global Entry greatly expedites the customs process when entering the United States and also gives you TSA PreCheck privileges when traveling domestically.
To save time and headache. Global entry allows you to skip the customs lanes when re-entering the U.S. from your international flights. Getting through customs can take anywhere from 15 to 120 minutes and more. With Global Entry you skip these lanes and do directly to an automated kiosk, which takes about 5 minutes. Additionally, Global Entry membership also entitles you to use the TSA PreCheck security lanes when traveling domestically. This is a great added bonus that will save you even more time when traveling.
In this section we will give you all the details you need to know about the program. We will cover the following topics:
The Global Entry program is a Trusted Traveler membership program.
1. Application Process: Global Entry is basically a membership program so you first have to become a member. You fill out an online application and consent to a thorough background check. Once your application is pre-approved, you schedule and conduct an in person interview. Check out our step-by-step application process further below in this article.
2. Global Entry Card:Once you are approved and become a member, you will receive your Global Entry card which needs to be activated online. You mainly use the card at land crossings from Mexico and Canada. You should have this card on you when flying in as well, but the Global Entry kiosk require a passport or a permanent resident card.
3. Entry through Global Entry Kiosk: As a Global Entry member, you are entitled to an expedited customs clearance procedure. When you return to the US from your international flight, instead of getting in the long customs lines with everyone else, you just go straight to one of the automatic Global Entry Kiosks. At the kiosk you scan your passport or permanent resident card and provide your fingerprint verification. Then you simply fill out a digital customs declaration form and you are finished. The kiosk provides you with a transaction receipt that tells you either to go straight to baggage claim or if you need to see a customs agent.
4. Land Borders: When entering the U.S. from Mexico or Canada over land, you can use your Global Entry card for expedited entry. The card, however, is not accepted at the airport kiosks; only your passport or permanent resident card works there.
TSA PreCheck domestically: Additionally, remember that being a Global Entry member also entitles you to use the TSA PreCheck expedited security lanes when traveling domestically. Check out our TSA PreCheck page for details about that program.
That's basically it. A few notes:
There are several requirements to be eligible for a Global Entry membership.
Citizenship. You must be a citizen of the U.S. (or permanent resident) or a citizen of one of the following 11 nations:
Age. There is no age requirement. In fact, unfortunately every one (even babies) need to have a full-priced membership to use the program.
Background Check. One of the key elements and requirements of Global Entry (and all Trusted Traveller programs ) is to pass a thorough background check. This ensures that you are a "low-risk traveller". The following may be reasons for ineligibility:
For further and more detailed information, visit the CBP Global Entry eligibility page.
The step-by-step guide to the application process in just a bit further down in this article.
Bottom Line: If you are a lawful citizen of the U.S. or the other qualifying nations, and do not have a serious criminal history, you should meet the eligibility requirements of Global Entry.
Global Entry Kiosk are available at most (70+) international airports in the U.S. The table below shows all of the participating airports as well as which airports do not have enrollment centers (shown with *) .
|Participating Airports||Participating Airports|
|Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)*||Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)|
|Anchorage - Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)||Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)|
|Aruba - Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)*||Nashville International Airport (BNA)|
|Austin - Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)||Nassau - Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport, Bahamas (NAS)*|
|Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)||New Orleans International Airport (MSY)|
|Bermuda International Airport (BDA)*||New York – Stewart International Airport (SWF)*|
|Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS)||Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)|
|Burlington International Airport (BTV)*||Oakland International Airport (OAK)*|
|Calgary International Airport (YYC)||Ontario International Airport (ONT)*|
|Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT)||Orlando International Airport (MCO)|
|Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)*||Orlando-Melbourne International Airport (MLB)*|
|Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)||Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB)|
|Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)||Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)|
|Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)||Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)|
|Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)||Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)|
|Denver International Airport (DEN)||Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)|
|Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)||Portland International Airport (PDX)|
|Dublin Airport (DUB)*||Providence – T.F. Green International Airport (PVD)|
|Edmonton International Airport (YEG)||Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)*|
|Fairbanks International Airport (FAI)||Sacramento International Airport (SMF)*|
|Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)||Saipan International Airport (SPN)*|
|George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)||Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)|
|Grand Bahamas International Airport (FPO)*||San Antonio International Airport (SAT)|
|Guam International Airport (GUM)||San Diego International Airport (SAN)|
|Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)||San Francisco International Airport (SFO)|
|Hartford – Bradley International Airport (BDL)||San Jose International Airport (SJC)*|
|Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)||San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)|
|Honolulu International Airport (HNL)||Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)|
|Houston – Hobby International Airport (HOU)||Shannon Airport (SNN)*|
|Indianapolis International Airport (IND)*||South Bend International Airport (SBN)*|
|John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York (JFK)||Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)*|
|John Wayne Airport (SNA)*||Tampa International Airport (TPA)|
|Kansas City International Airport (MCI)||Toledo Express Airport (TOL)*|
|Lambert - St. Louis International Airport (STL)||Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)|
|Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)||Vancouver International Airport (YVR)|
|McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS)||Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)|
|Miami International Airport (MIA)||Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)|
|Milwaukee - General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)|
You may find a list of enrollment center below in the step-by-step application process.
There is a one-time, non-refundable, application fee of $100. Membership lasts 5 years which comes to $20/year. Furthermore, remember that with Global Entry you also become eligible for TSA PreCheck which itself is an $85 value. But why pay anything when you can get it for free! Keep reading...
You must renew your membership every 5 years (and pay the $100 fee). Renewal is a bit easier than the first time application and you can start the process 1 year before your current membership expires.
Simply log into your TTP system account on the CBP website and select the blue "Renew Application" option. Update any personal information and submit the renewal application along with the $100 fee.
At this point, depending on how the vetting center decides, you may or man not have to conduct another personal interview.
$100 for 5 years of Global Entry is a really good deal considering the time you will save. Not to mention that it also gives you TSA PreCheck privileges. That said, why pay for it if you can get the membership fee reimbursed!
There are a number of credit cards tailored for the frequent traveler that will actually reimburse your Global Entry membership fee! Basically these banks want your business, and as a reward for using their card they offer a number of amazing incentives.
You can earn miles, points ... and some of them will pay for your Global Entry membership fee every 5 years! Here is our list of the best credit cards for a free Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.
The Global Entry application process if pretty similar to the other TTP procedures. Below is quick view of the process followed by a step-by-step outline.
Visit the Global Entry website and fill out the online application.
The application is fairly straightforward and should take you about 20 minutes or so. There are a lot of questions about your travel and resident history so it's a good idea to gather all this beforehand. You will need the following information:
Once you completed the online application, your case gets reviewed by a case manager. After this time you will receive a letter in the mail stating that you have been conditionally approved. According to the CBP, it can take an average of 11 weeks to receive your conditional approval notice.
Once you are conditionally approved you have 30 days to schedule an in-person interview. When you log in to your TTP account, you will be able to click on "Schedule Interview" button. Once you set an appointment you have an option to reschedule for a later time if you need to do so. You will see your appointment information on this same screen on your account. NOTE: Make sure you do not miss your appointment or you may have to start from the beginning and re-apply!
Here are the existing enrollment center as of June 2019:
Enrollment on Arrival: There is a way to expedite your enrollment process. Instead of scheduling your in-person interview, you can try to "walk-in" at one of the enrollment centers. This may be especially convenient if you happen to re returning from abroad anyway. In this case you may complete your interview upon arrival into the U.S. NOTE that you must have already received your conditional approval notice to enroll on arrival.
Attend the interview and make sure you bring all of the required document and information:
What to expect at the Global Entry interview?
It's a pretty short (15-20 min) interview where you are asked a number of questions. Why you are interested in the program, which countries you have visited recently and what the purpose of your trips were. Standard customs questions, really. They also check your required document, take your fingerprints and take a photo for your Global Entry card. That's it!
At the end of the interview you are an official Global Entry member and are given your KTN (Known Traveller Number).
About 7-10 days after the in-person interview, you will receive your Global Entry card. You must activate the card by logging in your TTP account and clicking on "Activate my Card" link.
Finally the last step is to use and enjoy your new privileges as a low-risk, trusted traveller. Come on, you've earned it.
Add your KTN to all of your flight bookings and your loyalty program profiles. This ensures that you can use the TSA PreCheck lanes through security. And if you are returning from abroad, enjoy your new privilege of avoiding the customs lines by going directly to the automatic Global Entry kiosks.
While Global Entry is a great choice, there are several other Trusted Traveler programs that you may consider. Below you will find a comparison of Trusted Traveler programs.
TSA PreCheck is another trusted traveller program administered by the TSA (Transportation Security Administration). As a member you may use special TSA PreCheck lanes to go through airport security. First off, these lanes are always shorter than the standard lanes. Furthermore you don't have to take off your shoes, belts, or jackets. And you can also keep all of your belongings in your luggage. Because of this, TSA PreCheck allows you to save a lot of time and breeze through airport security.
NEXUS is another trusted traveler program that is basically a Canadian version of Global Entry. It is a joint program between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Here are some of the details, benefits and drawbacks:
NOTE: Global Entry and NEXUS databases are not the same. This means that the two systems do not communicate and you must update your information with both agencies. For example if you renew your passport as a NEXUS member you must register your new number with both agencies. Furthermore with NEXUS, you must renew your passport number in person with a Canadian official.
SENTRI is basically the US - Mexico equivalent of NEXUS. It speeds up your entry process to the US from Mexico both by land and air. Membership of SENTRI gives you the privilege of using nexus lanes when entering the U.S. from Canada by land. With SENTRI, you may also use the Global Entry kiosk when re-entering the U.S. by air. SENTRI is a great option if you do a lot of traveling between the U.S. and Mexico.
Of course this really depends on your personal travel habits. If you really only travel within the United States then TSA PreCheck ($85) might be all you need.
However, if you do a lot of traveling between Canada and the US then NEXUS ($50) would be the better option. It includes TSA PreCheck and is the cheapest option. Just remember that you must conduct the application process and interview with both U.S. and Canadian agencies.
If you do a lot of international travel, but you're not too worried about border crossings to/from Mexico and Canada, then Global Entry ($100) seems like the right choice. The membership process is fairly convenient and affordable and includes TSA PreCheck privileges.
If you do travel between the US and Mexico on a regular basis then SENTRY makes a lot of sense. While it is the most expensive option ($122.5) , it does grant you privileges to the other programs as well (TSA PreCheck, Global Entry and Nexus). Just remember that you must complete the application/interview process in either Arizona, California, or Texas.
Also keep in mind that there are several Travel Rewards card that will reimburse the membership fees of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. And currently there are no such deals for NEXUS.
You can find more information and the application process for any of the programs on the Homeland Security website.
It is a CBP (Customs and Border Protection) program that rewards "low risk" travelers by expediting the customs process when re-entering the United States from abroad.
You will get through customs much faster. When you return to the U.S. from abroad, you will not have to stand in the customs lines for 15 to 120 minutes or more.
Instead, you go to automated kiosks which take maybe 5 minutes.
Yes it does, membership in Global Entry automatically gives you TSA PreCheck membership too!
Yes, it is specifically designed for travelers re-entering the U.S. It does not work, however, when going abroad.
Citizens of the U.S. (or permanent resident) as well as one of 11 approved nations.
It involves an online application, a thorough background check and an in-person interview.
The entire process may take between 2 to 6 months.
The online application only takes about 20 minutes. Then, there is a processing period of about 10 weeks.
Once you are conditionally approved, you schedule and complete an in-person interview. Depending on times of year, scheduling may take a few weeks as well.
After the in-person interview, you are an official member and just have to wait about a week for your Global Entry card.
Global Entry Kiosks are available at over 70 international airports. Find a list of the participating airports in this section.
Once you are conditionally approved you can schedule an in-person interview at one of these locations.
Trusted Traveller memberships are a must-have if you are a frequent traveller. Global Entry is especially useful if you do a lot of international traveling. When re-entering the U.S., you will save a lot of time and headache by skipping the customs lines. Instead, you can just go to the automated kiosk and get through customs in about 5 minutes.
In addition to getting through customs quickly, you are also entitled to use TSA PreCheck when flying domestically. This gives you access to a shorter, dedicated security lanes for an expedited security screening time.
The $100 membership fee ($20/year) is totally worth the time you will save. And there a several Travel Rewards credit cards that will actually reimburse the membership fee every 5 years.
If you have any questions or comments about the program, or our guide, feel free to post them below. We hope you found this article useful, and enjoy your next trip!