Global Entry Program 2021 – Application, Cost, Airports & Tips
Standing in a long line is the last thing you want to do when returning to the United States after an international flight. Global Entry allows you to expedite the process of going through customs and be done in a matter of minutes as opposed to potentially hours. There is a $100 non-refundable application fee and the approval process requires a little work and time, but it may be worth it if you are a frequent international traveler.
The Vacationer Recommendation
Don’t have a travel-focused credit card yet offering free Global Entry reimbursement? Check out The Vacationer’s Recommended Travel Card Picks for the best offers from Chase, Capital One, American Express, and other top issuers. You can also check out the CardMatch Tool to see what cards and offers you may already be prequalified for.
Here is what you need to know about Global Entry.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry was established in 2008 by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for low-risk travelers. Its appeal is to get pre-approved travelers through customs as quickly as possible upon returning to the United States by air, land, and sea. As of June 2018, there were nearly 5.5 million Global Entry members with tens of thousands more applying every month. It is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, select foreign nationals, and citizens of more than 10 foreign countries. An interview and thorough background check are required before approval.
How Much Does Global Entry Cost?
The fee to apply to become a member of Global Entry is $100. The fee is not refundable, so you are out of luck if you get denied. Like TSA PreCheck, your membership will last for five years, and the cost to renew for another five years is $100. You can also click here to see our recommended travel credit cards — many of which provide reimbursement for the $100 application fee.
You must pay online by credit card or electronic bank transfer (EBT) before completing your application. The entire process of filling out the application to receiving your Global Entry card in the mail can take as little as 3-4 weeks to as long as six months, so you should start as soon as possible before any upcoming international flights.
Credit Cards Offering Reimbursement For The $100 Application Fee
If you have any one of several popular travel-focused credit cards, you may be eligible for full reimbursement for your $100 Global Entry application fee. Most of the credit cards offering full reimbursement have an annual fee, so you will have to decide whether or not this cost is worth it to you. Here are a few of our recommendations for credit cards offering reimbursement. To get started, you can sign up for our favorite travel credit cards by clicking here.
- The Business Platinum Card® From American Express® (every four years; $595 annual fee – Terms Apply – See Rates & Fees)
- The Platinum Card® from American Express® (every four years; $695 annual fee – Terms Apply – See Rates & Fees)
- The American Express Corporate Platinum Card® (every four years; $550 annual fee)
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card (every four years; $95 annual fee)
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business (every four years; $0 annual fee first year, then $95 per year)
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (every four years; $95 annual fee)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve (every four years; $550 annual fee)
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World EliteTM MasterCard® (every five years; $450 annual fee)
- Citi Prestige® Card (every five years; $495 annual fee)
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (every four years; $89 annual fee)
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (every four years; $450 annual fee – Terms Apply – See Rates & Fees)
- MasterCard® Black Card™ ($495 annual fee)
- MasterCard® Gold Card™ ($995 annual fee)
- Navy Federal Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Card (every four years; $0 annual fee first year, then $49 per year)
- Provident World+ Travel® ($0 annual fee first year, then $45 per year)
- SunTrust Travel Rewards World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card (every five years; $0 annual fee first year, then $89 per year)
- United Explorer Card ($0 annual fee first year, then $95 per year)
- United Club Infinite Card ($525 annual fee)
- US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card (every four years; $400 annual fee)
- US Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card ($85 annual fee)
The Vacationer Tip
Use a travel-focused credit card to get full reimbursement for the $100 Global Entry application fee. If you would like to see other offers, Click to See All of Our Recommended Travel Credit Cards.
Gift Your Global Entry Credit Card Reimbursement to a Friend
If you already have Global Entry and your travel companion does not, you can gift them your reimbursement credit. As long as your credit card company sees the Global Entry $100 application fee, you will receive the credit. They will not check whose name is on the application, so feel free to let your friend or family member use your credit card as their payment method.
Global Entry Eligibility
Global Entry is for low-risk U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, select foreign nationals, and passport holders from more than 10 foreign countries. Parental consent is required for children under the age of 18.
Reasons for ineligibility include the following.
- Lying on the application or not providing all of the facts
- Outstanding warrants, criminal convictions, or pending criminal charges
- Under investigation by law enforcement
- Found to have violated customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws
- Inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulation
- Cannot prove to the CBP that you are a low-risk applicant
Eligible Foreign Countries for Global Entry Membership
Citizens of the following countries who hold a valid passport and valid visa may apply.
- Argentina (must have a valid passport and a valid visa)
- Canada (through the NEXUS program)
- Colombia (must have a valid passport and a valid visa)
- Germany (must be first cleared by the German Federal Police)
- India (must have a valid passport and a valid visa)
- Mexican Nationals (must have a valid passport and a valid visa)
- Panama (must have a valid passport and a valid visa)
- Singapore (must have a valid passport and Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) or a valid visa)
- South Korea (linked with Smart Entry Service (SES) program)
- Switzerland (must be first cleared by the Swiss Federal Police)
- Taiwan (must first obtain a Police Criminal Record Certificate)
- United Kingdom (must first apply with UK Home Office)
Global Entry members from foreign countries must keep the CBP updated with their current visa status. Members from the countries above are also eligible for TSA PreCheck. You can read about all of the international arrangements currently in place here.
Using Global Entry Kiosks
At a participating airport after landing, scan your passport or U.S. I-551 lawful permanent resident card at a Global Entry kiosk. You will also have to scan your fingerprints (it may take a few tries for the system to read them from our experience). Next, you will complete a digital customs declaration form (you no longer have to complete the printed form on your flight home) where you must declare all food and answer a few other questions.
After completing your declarations, the kiosk will take your picture. You will be issued a receipt which you hand to the CBP officer before heading to baggage claim or exiting the airport.
If your receipt has an X on it, you must report to the nearest CBP officer for further processing. An O on your receipt means you declared something and you must discuss your declarations with a CBP officer.
Facial Recognition is Replacing Fingerprints
Select airports are now testing facial recognition instead of fingerprints. Instead of having to scan your fingerprints and passport, the kiosk simply takes your picture and prints out your receipt. You also no longer have to fill out an electronic customs declaration. Instead, you provide an oral declaration to an officer upon exiting the airport, according to the DHS.
While this is still in the early stages, more airports will likely introduce it if it proves to be successful. For the time being, you should expect to scan your fingerprints and passport at most kiosks.
Will My Entire Party Have Access to Global Entry Kiosks If I Am a Member?
Every person in your party must be a member of Global Entry to use the kiosks. That includes children, which means you will have to pay the $100 non-refundable fee and schedule an interview for them. If your kids are under the age of 18, you will also have to attend the interview with them.
The good news is children 12 and under may access TSA PreCheck lines if it is printed on your boarding pass even if they are not a member. Since Global Entry includes PreCheck, this is a nice benefit if you are flying domestically with children under the age of 13.
Airports With Global Entry Kiosks
Kiosks are located at more than 75 airports around the world. After landing, you can find them in international terminals. Unfortunately, Global Entry privileges are only available at airports with kiosks. Also note, some airports with kiosks do not have enrollment centers for interviews.
56 U.S. Airports With Kiosks
|Anchorage – Ted Stevens Int’l Airport (ANC)*||Austin – Austin-Bergstrom Int’l Airport (AUS)*||Baltimore- Washington Int’l Airport (BWI)*|
|Boston-Logan Int’l Airport (BOS)*||Burlington Int’l Airport (BTV)||Charlotte-Douglas Int’l Airport (CLT)*|
|Chicago Midway Int’l Airport (MDW)*||Chicago O’Hare Int’l Airport (ORD)*||Cincinnati- N. Kentucky Int’l Airport (CVG)*|
|Cleveland Hopkins Int’l Airport (CLE)*||Dallas/Ft. Worth Int’l Airport (DFW)*||Denver Int’l Airport (DEN)*|
|Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)*||Fairbanks Int’l Airport (FAI)*||Ft. Lauderdale- Hollywood Int’l Airport (FLL)*|
|Hartford – Bradley Int’l Airport (BDL)*||Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Int’l Airport (ATL)*||Honolulu Int’l Airport (HNL)*|
|Houston – G. Bush Intcntl Airport (IAH)*||Houston – Hobby Int’l Airport (HOU)*||Indianapolis Int’l Airport (IND)|
|John F. Kennedy Int’l Airport, New York (JFK)*||John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana (SNA)||Kansas City Int’l Airport (MCI)*|
|Lambert – St. Louis Int’l Airport (STL)*||Las Vegas – McCarran Int’l Airport (LAS)*||Los Angeles Int’l Airport (LAX)*|
|Miami Int’l Airport (MIA)*||Milwaukee – General Mitchell Int’l Airport (MKE)*||Minneapolis- St. Paul Int’l Airport (MSP)*|
|Nashville Int’l Airport (BNA)*||New Orleans Int’l Airport (MSY)*||New York – Stewart Int’l Airport (SWF)|
|Newark Liberty Int’l Airport (EWR)*||Oakland Int’l Airport (OAK)||Orlando Int’l Airport (MCO)*|
|Orlando-Melbourne Int’l Airport (MLB)||Orlando-Sanford Int’ll Airport (SFB)*||Philadelphia Int’l Airport (PHL)*|
|Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport (PHX)*||Pittsburgh Int’l Airport (PIT)*||Portland Int’l Airport (PDX)*|
|Providence – T.F. Green Int’l Airport (PVD)*||Raleigh-Durham Int’l Airport (RDU)||Sacramento Int’l Airport (SMF)|
|Salt Lake City Int’l Airport (SLC)*||San Antonio Int’l Airport (SAT)*||San Diego Int’l Airport (SAN)*|
|San Francisco Int’l Airport (SFO)*||San Jose Int’l Airport (SJC)||Seattle-Tacoma Int’l Airport-SeaTac (SEA)*|
|South Bend Int’l Airport (SBN)||Southwest Florida Int’l Airport (RSW)||Tampa Int’l Airport (TPA)*|
|Toledo Express Airport (TOL)||Washington-Dulles Int’l Airport (IAD)*|
* These airports also have enrollment centers. Some airport names have been abbreviated
|Calgary Int’l Airport (YYC)*||Abu Dhabi Int’l Airport (AUH)|
|Edmonton Int’l Airport (YEG)*||Aruba – Queen Beatrix Int’l Airport (AUA)|
|Halifax Stanfield Int’l Airport (YHZ)*||Bahamas – Lynden Pindling Int’l Airport (NAS)|
|Montréal–Trudeau Int’l Airport (YUL)*||Bermuda International Airport (BDA)|
|Ontario Int’l Airport (ONT)||Dublin Airport (DUB)|
|Ottawa Int’l Airport (YOW)*||Grand Bahamas Int’l Airport (FPO)|
|Toronto Pearson Int’l Airport (YYZ)*||Guam Int’l Airport (GUM)*|
|Vancouver Int’l Airport (YVR)*||Ireland – Shannon Airport (SNN)|
|Winnipeg Int’l Airport (YWG)*||Saipan International Airport (SPN|
|San Juan Int’l Airport (SJU)*|
* These airports also have enrollment centers. Some airport names have been abbreviated
Airports With Global Entry Enrollment Centers for Interviews
The toughest part of the Global Entry application process is scheduling a timely interview at a nearby location. Over 100 global airports have enrollment centers, but it may still take months to find an interview time slot.
Not every airport with Global Entry kiosks has enrollment centers and vice versa. Use the tables above to see which airports with kiosks also have enrollment centers. These airports are marked with a * symbol after the name.
Applying for Global Entry
Applying for Global Entry is straightforward, and it should not take you any longer than 20-30 minutes to complete the application and pay the $100 fee. Remember, only U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, select foreign nationals, and citizens of more than 10 foreign countries may apply.
Filling Out the Application
Navigate to the Trusted Travelers Programs section of the Department of Homeland Security website. In the program select area, find Global Entry and click Get Started.
After consenting to the security notification, you will be given the option to either sign in or create a new account. Assuming you do not already have an account or a government employee ID, you will need to create a new account.
After creating an account and logging in, you can begin the process of completing your application. You should have your driver’s license, passport, and form of payment with you when completing the application. We recommend a credit card that will reimburse you the $100 application fee (see the list above).
Fill out basic details such as your name, height, eye color, current address, and mailing address. You will then provide all of your previous addresses, employers, and places traveled over the past five years. You will have to type in your driver’s license and passport numbers, issue dates, and expiration dates.
It is important that you are honest on the application and do not leave out any of your former addresses, employers, or places traveled. You will be going through an extensive background check and interview, so you should be as truthful as possible. Also, you cannot make changes to your application (changes can only be made by contacting the enrollment center) once it is submitted, so we recommend double-checking for accuracy.
After completing your application and paying the $100 fee, you now have to wait for conditional approval. The time it takes for conditional approval varies considerably from one person to the next.
Many people receive conditional approval within two weeks of submitting their application. Eric Jones of The Vacationer has still not been conditionally approved after submitting his application over six months ago. If it has been over a month and you have still not been approved, we recommend using the contact form on the Trusted Travelers Programs website.
Until you are approved, your account dashboard will say Pending Review and Waiting for Conditional Approval. Unfortunately, you cannot schedule your interview until you are approved. When a decision has been made on your application, you will receive an email with the subject “TTP Application Status Change.” It will not tell you whether you have been approved or denied, so you will have to log in to your account.
Scheduling Your Interview Tips
I received my conditional approval letter less than one week after submitting my application. I redacted some personal information, but your letter will also include your address and Global Entry Membership Number.
After you have been conditionally approved, you can now schedule your interview. It can be difficult to find an interview time and location near you, so you may have to book a date several months away. You must schedule an interview within 30 days of your conditional approval. Please note, the interview date does not have to be within 30 days, but you must have at least something scheduled. You must also complete the entire enrollment process within 365 days of receiving conditional approval.
Initially, I had to schedule an interview for a date that was four months away at a distant airport. Since this time and location was not ideal, I checked the available interview times at my home airport a few times per day.
I booked closer dates at my home airport each time I rescheduled until I finally managed to schedule an interview only 10 days after my conditional approval. You can reschedule your interview as many times as you want, so do not hesitate to do that. People are constantly canceling and rescheduling their times, so it is important to check the available slots many times per day until you get your desired date and time.
I found appointment times to open up more often in the morning and at night, so I would be on the look out then. Within a few days, you should be able to snag a desirable interview date and time at your nearest airport if you check often.
The Interview – Ways to Prepare
My Global Entry interview lasted five minutes, but reports say they can take as long as 30 minutes. This is a situation where it is better to be over-prepared. Here are items you should bring to the interview.
- Permanent resident card (if applicable)
- Driver’s license
- Conditional Approval Letter
- Proof of residence (such as a utility bill)
- Anything else to support the information on your application
You should know your membership number (also known as your PASSID). Your 9-digit PASSID can be found in the upper right corner of the dashboard after logging into your accounts on the Trusted Traveler Programs website. It also appears on your conditional approval letter. It will be found on the back of your ID card as well. This number is also your Known Traveler Number (KTN) for gaining access to TSA PreCheck.
You should arrive 15-30 minutes before your scheduled interview time. I was only asked for my passport, but many others have said they were asked for a second form of identification and proof of residence. I was also asked about my recent travel history as well as my reason for wanting to become a Global Entry member. While the interview may feel stressful, it is important to remember you have already been conditionally approved. The CBP officer is simply verifying your documents and information.
The Vacationer Tip
Bring plenty of documentation to verify and support your application. This includes your passport or permanent resident card, driver’s license, and bills with your address on them.
I was approved on the spot, but it could take additional time for some applicants. The CBP officer took my fingerprints and a digital photograph. Others have reported being instructed to watch a short video explaining how Global Entry works, but I was never given the option. Reports also state the officer will show you how to use the Global Entry kiosk, but the officer who conducted my interview never did this.
Enrollment on Arrival Interviews
If you will be arriving internationally to select United States airports and are conditionally approved for Global Entry, you can complete your interview on arrival. This is a great alternative if there are no available desirable interview times for you to schedule. You will still need the documents detailed above, so you should have everything ready if you decide to do an enrollment on arrival interview.
Enrollment on Arrival is available at airports in 25 states. It is also available at airports in seven different foreign countries. See the current list here.
Approval and Global Entry ID Card
Within minutes of leaving my interview, I received an email from U.S. Customs and Border Protection saying my application status had changed. I logged into my account and it officially said I had been approved. Since Global Entry is tied to your passport or permanent resident card, you do not need to wait to receive the ID card before you can start taking advantage of the service. Start using the kiosks right away when returning to the United States by air. You can also now use TSA PreCheck for domestic flights.
After approval, the only thing left to wait for is your Global Entry ID card. This ID card is only necessary when traveling by land or sea to the United States from Mexico or Canada via the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes. It will take a few weeks to arrive. Only U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and Mexican nationals will receive a Global Entry ID card. This card will not give you expedited entry when traveling to Canada or Mexico.
After receiving your ID, you should log in to your Global Entry account to activate it. Your Global Entry ID card is considered a REAL ID card. This means you can use it as a form of ID to fly if your current driver’s license does not meet REAL ID requirements.
The entire process only took four weeks from the day I applied to the day I activated my ID card, but times can vary considerably.
TSA PreCheck is Included With Your Global Entry Membership
The reason I chose Global Entry over TSA PreCheck is Global Entry includes PreCheck privileges. As previously detailed, Global Entry costs $100 for five years, while TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years. The extra $15 for five years for expedited access through customs was worth it to me, but it depends on your travel plans. Additionally, the process of getting approved and scheduling the interview for Global Entry may take longer, so consider that when making your decision.
To use your Global Entry membership to gain TSA PreCheck access, simply enter your PASSID in the Known Traveler Number field when making an airline reservation. You should also enter your PASSID in the Known Traveler Field in your frequent flyer profile.
Potential Middle Name Issues for TSA PreCheck
As a New Jersey resident, my license only lists my middle initial as opposed to my entire middle name. My passport lists my entire middle name. This created an issue for me on how to format my name on my Global Entry application. I have always flown using just my middle initial because airlines say to type your name exactly how it appears on your ID. After a bit of research, I decided to apply to Global Entry with my full middle name to match my passport.
Many Global Entry and TSA PreCheck members have stated middle name issues have caused them to not be given PreCheck on certain flights. For example, one member stated their full middle name is listed in the Global Entry system, but they only used their middle initial on their airline booking. They said they missed out on PreCheck many times in a row to only get it when they matched their full middle name for upcoming flights. Other members have stated similar concerns with middle names and middle initials.
I contacted the TSA for clarification. I was told your middle name should not matter when it comes to being granted PreCheck. The officer told me your first and last name, birthday, and Known Traveler Number (KTN), or PASSID, are the key things to get correct. Ideally, your airline reservation name should still match how it is in the Global Entry system if you want to better your chances of getting PreCheck.
Global Entry Vs. Mobile Passport
Mobile Passport is an app allowing expedited entry through customs upon arriving to the United States via air or cruise port. The app is free to download and use (there is a premium version), and it can sometimes be faster than Global Entry.
We recommend both Global Entry members and non-members to download the app. While it is not a replacement for Global Entry, it is an alternative or a backup. Sometimes the Global Entry lines are longer than the Mobile Passport lines and vice versa. Having both at your disposal when arriving back to the United States ensures you will enjoy the quickest route through customs.
Global Entry has a non-refundable application fee of $100. If approved, memberships last for five years.
Unlike TSA PreCheck, where non-members may be chosen to use the service, you must be a member of Global Entry to use the kiosks.
No. If you have TSA PreCheck and want Global Entry, you will have to go through the complete application process.
No. You will fill out your declarations form electronically at the Global Entry kiosk.
Simply log in to your Global Entry account and find the section for updating documents. Enter your new passport information and click save.
No, but you can get reimbursed for the $100 application fee through a variety of travel-focused credit cards.
No, you only need your Global Entry card when returning to the U.S. from Mexico or Canada by land or sea.
Your PASSID is your Global Entry membership number. It is also your Known Travel Number for domestic flights to gain access to PreCheck
It can take as little as a few days to as long as six months. It depends on how busy the CBP is when you apply. Your own situation, including travel history and other factors, could delay approval as well.
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, select foreign nationals, and citizens of more than 10 foreign countries
No. You may be randomly selected for further questioning and additional security screenings.
You only need to register your vehicle if you plan to use SENTRI lanes to enter the United States from Mexico. An inspection is no longer required to use SENTRI lanes, but you must register your vehicle. You do not have to register your vehicle in order to use NEXUS lanes when traveling to the United States from Canada.
No, only U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and Mexican nationals will receive a Global Entry ID card.
Yes. A Global Entry card is a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant document. It is also a REAL ID.
From filling out the application to conditional approval to the interview and receiving your Global Entry Card in the mail, the process can take as little as a few weeks to as long as six months.
The Vacationer’s Final Thoughts + Cheat Sheet
We highly recommend Global Entry to any traveler who wishes to get through customs quicker. The added benefit of TSA PreCheck makes this a no-brainer for any person who regularly travelers domestically. Use one of the travel-focused credit cards to get reimbursed for the $100 application fee.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Featured Image via U.S. Customs and Border Protection
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