If you travel regularly, and especially if you travel abroad, then you’ve probably heard of Global Entry, if not seen signs for it when returning to the U.S. from abroad. But what exactly is Global Entry? And how does it differ from TSA Pre-Check? Well today, I’m telling you exactly what is Global Entry.
Global Entry vs. TSA Pre-Check
Just as TSA Pre-Check helps you speed up your departure process, Global Entry helps you expedite your arrival back in the U.S. In short, Global Entry expedites the U.S. Customs process when you return from flying abroad. While TSA Pre-Check provides a priority TSA line, expediting you through security, Global Entry expedites the clearance through U.S. Customs and Border Protection for low-risk, pre-approved travelers.
Global Entry Benefits
The biggest benefit of Global Entry is how much time it can save you when returning from abroad. During peak travel times, you could be waiting to clear customs for as long as a couple of hours. With Global Entry, however, you could be cleared in as quick as a couple of minutes. Furthermore, having Global Entry gives you access to other countries’ government travel programs, as well as access to TSA Pre-Check.
Global Entry Eligibility and Application
First and foremost, to be eligible, you should not be a criminal, have any pending warrants or charges, be under any criminal investigations, or have violated any customs laws in other countries. In other words, you should be able to convince the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that you’re a low-risk traveler. When applying, you’ll do so online, answering a number of questions (make sure to have your employment and residency history readily available), pay a $100 application fee (paid every 5 years), and then receive a response after your application has been reviewed to schedule an interview. If you have kids, you’ll have to enroll them separately.
Additionally, citizens of a number of other countries are eligible to apply, including the U.K., Netherlands, Germany and several other countries.
Global Entry Interview
Once you’ve scheduled your interview, you’ll conduct an interview at one of the CBP’s office locations, which are located at a number of major airports around North America. When you come in for your interview, you’ll need to have your approval letter, proof of residence, government-issued IDs and passport. The interviews are short, largely confirming questions from your online application, confirming your identity and residency and proving that you’re a low-risk traveler.
How to Use the Global Entry Kiosk
After you’ve completed your interview and been approved for Global Entry, using the Global Entry kiosk for the first time should be quick and easy. You’ll approach the kiosk, confirm your identity with your fingerprints, answer a couple questions, have your photo taken and you’re on your way. No more forms to fill out and hour-long lines.
How to Get Global Entry for Free
Like TSA Pre-Check, you could actually get Global Entry without having to pay the fee. This is mainly through a number of different credit cards, which waive the fee, provide a rebate, or offer a travel credit for travel costs like Global Entry.
If you travel abroad two or more times a year, Global Entry is more than worth it and can save you hours of valuable time.