Like burning your hand on a stove, all it takes is one singular arrival into the United States where you find yourself standing for hours, waiting to get through US immigration to say “never again”. At $100, Global Entry isn’t an insignificant travel expense, but since that $100 fee covers 5 years, Global Entry is effectively $20 a year to save yourself countless hours, and more importantly – travel peace of mind.
There are so many questions about what it does, what it doesn’t, how to get it and where to get it, so here’s everything you need to know to successfully apply and get yourself trekking from plane to curb side in around 5 mins, or less…
Global Entry is a trusted traveller network that allows members to bypass long immigration queues when entering the USA in favour of an automated kiosk. Everyone who gets Global Entry also receives TSA PreCheck, which allows you to use TSA PreCheck lanes, which means being able to keep your shoes on, belts on and laptops in bag at US Airports. Basically…
- You land, and follow signs to Global Entry lanes.
- You slide your passport into the machine and look at the camera.
- You tap your answers to the immigration declaration.
- You get a slip of paper with your picture and present it to officer.
- You are in, and on your way wherever you’re going.
As a Global Entry user, it’s never taken me more than 5 minutes to get through immigration in the United States. As a trusted traveller network, the application process can be lengthy and somewhat cumbersome, but it’s 100% worth it, in my opinion. You’re basically paying $20 a year, to save hours, and I value even one hour saved at worth more than $20 bucks.
Who Can Get Global Entry?
Global Entry is available to US Citizens without a criminal record, as well as citizens from a regularly expanding number of countries. Basically, you don’t need to be from the USA, or live in the USA to be able to apply for and be approved for Global Entry. And actually, it’s even more useful for non citizens who would be stuck in foreign visitor queues upon arrival.
Citizens from the following countries are also eligible: Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
Applying for Global Entry does not mean you’ll be approved, and if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, are under investigation or have broken customs regulations in any country, or are deemed not to be a low risk traveller, you may be denied. Unfortunately, the $100 Global Entry Application fee is non refundable, so if you’re denied, you’ll be eating that money.
Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership, which equates to $20 a year. It becomes instantly more valuable with the fact that TSA PreCheck is thrown in on approved applications, so it’s a much better value than applying for TSA PreCheck on its own for $85. There’s absolutely no need to pay for a separate TSA PreCheck membership, and you’d be foolish if you did!
Quite a few credit cards will cover your entire $100 Global Entry fee via a statement credit, including: Capital One Venture, The Platinum Card from American Express, Chase Sapphire Reserve, IHG Premier Rewards, Bank Of American Premium Rewards and United Explorer Card.
You can pay the $100 to renew your Global Entry after your 4th year (one year before expiry) and it’s generally best to begin that process at least six months before your membership is due to expire. In most cases, you won’t need to complete an in person interview when you renew, and you’ll just simply pay the Global Entry renewal fee.
Applying For Global Entry: Step By Step
The first step isn’t the hardest to plan, but is arguably the most annoying. You’ll need to create a TTP (Trusted Traveler Program) account, and then you’ll fill in an incredibly lengthy form with information on where you’ve lived, and every country you’ve visited within a certain period of time. Plan at least an hour to fill this out, from the time you’ve created a TTP account.
- Create a Trusted Traveler Program account.
- Fill out long and boring Global Entry application.
- Pay the $100 non refundable Global Entry application fee.
- Hope you get conditionally approved.
- Once conditionally approved, schedule in person interview.
We said the first step isn’t the hardest to plan, for good reason. To be accepted to the Global Entry program you need to complete an in person interview. Presently, these are almost all done within the USA, with the exception of Ireland, Canada and Abu Dhabi.
If you’re a foreign national applying from abroad, you’ll need to time your interview around planned travel to the USA, or hope you get lucky with a walk in appointment. Plenty more on all that below…
There’s two ways to get your Global Entry finalized and have you on your way to speedy arrival into the United States.
- Make an appointment for an enrolment centre within 30 days of conditional Global Entry approval, even if the appointment is scheduled months into the future.
- Visit an EOA “enrolment on arrival” centre when returning/coming from an international trip to speed things up. There are now EOA centres in Dublin, Shannon, Canadian Airports, Abu Dhabi, Aruba and the Bahamas.
Global Entry interview appointments can get backed up, so it’s best to check the availability calendar as soon as you are conditionally approved, and see if you can match it up with any planned travel.
If you don’t schedule an appointment within 30 days of your conditional approval, you risk needing to apply again, so even if you plan to use an EOA centre, make an appointment first and cancel it if needed after you’re taken care of and approved in person.
Using Enrolment On Arrival To Speed Things Up
A few airports in the USA, Ireland, Canada, Bahamas and Abu Dhabi offer “walk in” enrolment centres called EOA where you *should* be able to complete your in person Global Entry interview as a walk in, provided you’ve just come in or are coming in from an international trip, and are already conditionally approved for Global Entry online.
You need to prove residency at an “enrolment on arrival” interview, so be sure to travel with a utility bill, mortgage, drivers license of other extra ID with your valid address if you plan to use an enrolment on arrival centre.
If, for example, you live in the United Kingdom, and you were flying to the USA via Dublin or Shannon, you should be able to complete your Global Entry enrolment at these pre-clearance facilities.
Walk in Global Entry interviews are accepted at: Here’s a link to all the EOA “enrolment on arrival” locations. Since the USA does “pre clearance” in Ireland, Abu Dhabi, the Bahamas and Canada, you can ask to complete your enrolment when on your way to the USA from one of these gateways, in addition to airports in the USA upon arrival.
Once you’re approved for Global Entry and have completed your in person interview, you’ll get a Global Entry card in the mail. This card has a key number which you’ll need to quote regularly, since it will act as your TSA PreCheck number too. This is known as your “known traveller number” which is on the back of your Global Entry card. Make sure it’s always entered in the “Known Traveller” field on any flight bookings.
You can find your Global Entry/Known Traveller/TSA PreCheck number on the back of your Global Entry card in the top left where it says “Pass ID”. It’s the 9 digit number directly below PassID and will look something like “901234567”.
Generally speaking, you never need to show your Global Entry card at immigration since it’s linked to your passport anyway. You simply enter your “known traveller number” when making your reservation, but be sure to quote that “known traveller” number on all domestic flight bookings, since your access to TSA PreCheck might not otherwise show up.
Best bet: add it to your loyalty program info with your favourite airlines, so it’s saved all the time!
You’re all set, you now know everything you could possibly need to know to enjoy speedy processing into the USA, and smooth passes through TSA with your shoes and belts on, and your laptop in bag!