Updated May 28, 2020.
Are you ready to revolutionize (and speed up) your travels? Global Entry is just the thing for you! What is Global Entry? How can you apply? All the answers are in this post just for you!
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program headed by the Customs and Border Patrol agency. Only U.S. passport holders may apply for this service, and you will be required to complete a background check. Global Entry will get you expedited service when re-entering the United States by providing designated customs kiosks instead of requiring you to stand in what can be an extremely long line. This service has saved me several hours of standing in customs lines within the U.S. and enabled me to make tight connections over the last several years, and I plan to use it as long as it is available–hopefully my entire lifetime!
This service is only available within the United States, so when traveling to other countries, you will still have to stand in their customs lines. However, anywhere you go through U.S. customs throughout the world, such as airports in Ireland and Canada, you will be able to use your Global Entry status to go through customs on your way home.
Global Entry also automatically comes with TSA Pre-check, which allows you to speed through security checkpoints at airports within the United States. That means leaving on your shoes, keeping everything inside your carry-on, and getting through security with your dignity! This is an $85 value, so getting that plus Global Entry for $100 total is a great deal!
How to Apply for Global Entry
The application process is lengthy because this is the time for you to provide all information necessary for the background check. Plan to dedicate 2 uninterrupted hours to complete the application, though it will probably take less time than that if you have all your materials ready. You will need:
- Your passport (make sure it is still valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you plan to return from your next trip)
- Your driver’s license (make sure it is still valid through the end of your next trip)
- Information regarding your employment within the last 5 years (occupation, employer, dates you worked there, phone number, address)
- List of countries visited within the last 5 years
- $100 payable via credit card, debit card, or PayPal
- Your cell phone or house phone if your cell phone cannot receive text messages
- A printer
- 1.5 to 2 hours of your time; if you receive a prompt to request more time during the process because your session is about to expire, select “Yes”
Don’t have your passport yet?
Check out Your How-to Guide to Passports!
What to Expect in the Application Process
The process is long, but not difficult. Never fear! Here is a list of what to expect so you can go through the process quickly and painlessly.
A. Visit the Customs and Border Patrol Website
Here you will find details and updates about the process before you even begin.
B. Create a Trusted Travel Program Account
Everyone has to create an account before they can apply for Global Entry or any other Trusted Traveler Program that the United States offers. When you set up an account, you will be asked to verify via an e-mail sent to the address you provide. This may take several minutes; do not panic! This is why you set aside plenty of time.
When prompted, you will be asked to create a secure password. If it is not secure enough, you will not be allowed to use that password. Be sure to create one with at least 9 characters, to include 1 special character, 1 uppercase letter, 1 lowercase letter, and 1 number.
You will then have to provide a phone number to receive a text message or phone call; the 6-digit code you receive via phone will expire in 10 minutes, so be prepared to confirm quickly.
You will then be given a 16-digit PIN that is unique to you and also expires in a specific timeframe; you will be told to print this page. On the next page, you will be required to enter this 16-digit code. Your account is now created! You can start applying for your Global Entry.
C. Use the Information You Just Created to Log In to the CBP Trusted Traveler Program
I know, I know, you just did this. Just remind yourself it’s all in the name of security and keeping U.S. citizens safe. We don’t have to know why, we just have to jump through the hoops to get it done.
D. Create Your Account Profile
Now we’re really getting into it! You’ll start off with the basics (name, country and city of birth, e-mail address, maiden names or other names you may have had in the past, etc.), and then it gets more interesting. You will have a few more questions appear as you fill out the profile below, then you will have to select the program you want to apply for, which is Global Entry!
E. Know How to Check Your Progress
You made it! Now you’re really doing it. You can check your progress as you go with the screen below. Each step will turn green when it’s successfully completed. If something in one of your completed steps is questionable or incomplete, that step will turn orange. If you skip a step, it will turn red. Go for all green! The following steps will go in the same order as steps 1-9 below.
Steps to Apply
(What to Expect Continued Below)
1. Personal Information
This is the basic information you’ve already included elsewhere, and the information is populated for you. If it’s not correct for any reason, you can edit the information here.
This will be your passport, and possibly other documents as needed. Make sure your information here matches your passport exactly.
3. Driver’s License
You will have to enter your driver’s license number, birthdate, height, eye color, etc., and make sure it matches exactly.
4. Vehicle Information
This only applies if you are driving your car into Canada or Mexico. If you plan to drive out of the country and back in, you will have to fill out this section. If not, you can check the box that says this does not apply.
5. Address Information
This one can take some time if you don’t have this information ready in advance or easy to find. You will need to enter every address where you’ve lived and the dates that you lived there, for the past 5 years.
6. Employment Information
Here again, this can take up a lot of your time if you don’t have the information ready. You will need your employment information for every job you’ve had in the last 5 years, including the name of the employer, your occupation or title, the address, phone number, and the dates you worked there.
7. Travel History
Thankfully, you don’t have to remember the exact dates you traveled to each country! You will have to select all the countries outside of the United States that you have visited over the last 5 years. Note: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are designated collectively under “United Kingdom;” Ireland is designated under “Republic of Ireland.” If you have trouble finding a country you’ve visited in the Global Entry application, do a quick Internet search for the country to find its official name.
8. Additional Information
This one is fun! You will have to fill out all your past criminal information. Hopefully you won’t have any, but if you do, you will need to report it here. If not, they will find it in your background check, and you will be absolutely denied. Reporting it will give you a fighting chance with honesty on your side.
9. Final Review
You’re almost there! This is your final opportunity to check your information and edit it as necessary. You must acknowledge that you have reviewed each section before you can submit your application.
What to Expect, Continued from Above
F. Wait to Be Conditionally Approved
Now that you’ve successfully submitted your application, you just need to wait for it to be approved or disapproved. You will receive an e-mail, typically within 1-3 weeks, with your conditional approval or final disapproval, and information about scheduling your in-person interview.
G. Scheduling Your Interview
You will not be able to schedule your interview until you are conditionally approved, but you can go ahead and look at where the enrollment centers are located. If you are conditionally approved, you have 1 year to schedule and attend your interview. For convenience, you can schedule your interview for your next scheduled entry to the United States, if you are flying into an enrollment center location. Find all the locations here: Global Entry Enrollment Centers.
H. The Interview
When you go to your interview, you will have to pay for hourly parking at the airport if you choose an airport-located enrollment center. There will be signage directing you to the “Global Entry Enrollment Center,” so just follow the signs, or ask someone if you’re not sure or if the signage is not clear.
In your interview, you will have to give your finger print at an electronic finger print reader, answer some questions from an officer, and have your photo taken, so dress accordingly.
I. You Did It! But Don’t Forget…
You did it! You’re enrolled in Global Entry and you’re ready to breeze through security and U.S. Customs. But don’t forget this: you must enter your Trusted Traveler Number into your airline account, every time you fly with a new airline. You will receive your Trusted Traveler Number when you receive your Global Entry information. For instance, I frequently fly with United Airlines, and my Trusted Traveler Number is in my account with United, so when I purchase a ticket on United, I automatically have access to my TSA Pre-check and Global Entry privileges. If you do not have a frequent flyer account with an airline, you can enter your Trusted Traveler Number any time you purchase a ticket online, but you will have to put the number in each time.
Bottom Line: You paid for and were approved for this service, so don’t forget to use it! The only way your airline, TSA, or Customs and Border Patrol will know you have Global Entry is if this number is associated with your ticket. This might be the most important step!
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