When PreCheck first popped up at National Aiport (DCA), I remember looking enviously at the military personnel gliding through TSA. A few months later, I was returning from overseas and saw the Global Entry kiosk area at Dulles (IAD). I asked the CPB agent who was inspecting my passport about it and he said, “I highly recommend it for you.” He handed me a flyer which changing my travel life.
Global Entry is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.
And when they say expedited they really mean expedited, I spend at the most 8 minutes clearing customs and immigration in the States or at pre-approved airports such as the ones in Abu Dhabi and Aruba.
When I applied for the first time it took several months for my background check. Then it took another three months to get an appointment at Dulles.When I encouraged my father to get his, he found it was easier to get an appointment at JFK than Dulles. I was in and out of the country which may have added to the wait time. Little did I know when I applied that I was also being cleared for PreCheck. Between Global Entry and PreCheck, my US airport experiences have become a lot less stressful and time-consuming. When my Global Entry expired the renewal process was quick and it came with an added ID card which conveniently serves as an additional piece of federally issued identification.
How To Apply
You apply online. You should carve out at least 30 minutes to fill out the application as it asks for a lot of details. With this information, CPB runs a rigors background check. When you finish the application you will need to pay $100—this is non-refundable. If you have certain credit cards such as American Express Platinum you can be reimbursed for the fee.
If you are approved, you will receive a notification email informing you to complete enrollment you will need to go to one of the approved airports. Depending on your region this could require a long wait for an available appointment. You need to bring your valid passport(s) and another form of identification. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine readable permanent resident card. Once there you will watch a video about how Global Entry works and the rules about what may be brought lawfully imported into the United States. FYI Kinder Eggs are on the unapproved list because of the toys. This was on my little quiz. After the film and the quiz, a CPB agent will take your finger prints and ask you additional questions. When s/he is done you get a sticker on the back page of your passport and you are on your way to hassle-free customs and immigration.
How It Works
- When you enter the customs hall go to the Global Entry kiosks, not the lines.
- You place your passport on the scanner.
- Put your finger pads on the glass making sure to get green not red squares.
- Answer questions on the touch screen.
- Take your print out.
- Once you have your luggage, again look for the Global Entry line (typically the shorter one).
- Hand you print out to the agent,
- Tell all your other traveling friends they’re crazy if they don’t enroll.
Notes from CPB
- While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States.
- Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.
- If you hold two valid US passports and currently have Global Entry linked to your 10-year passport, you can also link Global Entry to your second, 2-year passport.
- As a Trusted Traveler, you may also update your passport, driver’s license, visa status, and mail-to address as well. This can all be done by logging into your GOES account.
- If the passport involves a name change or is a new document not previously associated with your account (or has a new issuing authority), you will need to visit an Enrollment Center. No appointment is needed, but please contact the Enrollment Center first.
- Your Trusted Traveler membership date is not dependent on the passport expiration date. Membership will remain valid and active if the passport expires, however, you will not be able to use your membership at kiosks and land crossings until you update your new passport in the GOES system.
Where You Use It
CPB keeps an updated list of airports with Global Entry kiosks.
In addition to using Global Entry in the US there are agreements in place with
- New Zealand
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom