5 Key Things to Know About Global Entry

For International Flyers, the Airport Prescreen Can Be a Big Time-Saver

International flyers retrieve their carry-ons from the airport screening machine.
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For international travelers, Global Entry can feel like a godsend. When returning to the U.S. from abroad, the program allows you to bypass the U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening line and use an automated kiosk to declare instead—a process that can take just a few minutes.

To apply, you’ll need to pay a fee, undergo a background check, and commit to an in-person interview. If you’re approved, the benefits last for five years. Before you start the application process, though, here are some important things to know. 

Global Entry kiosks are available in some international airports, including the Abu Dhabi International Airport, the Dublin Airport, and several Canadian airports. 

Also, as a Global Entry member, you can use the Smartgate system when entering Australia without needing to register beforehand. You can also apply for the following programs, though you may need to pay an additional fee and undergo a separate interview with each:

  • Dutch FLUX 
  • Korean SES 
  • Panama Global Pass
  • Mexico Viajero Confiable

If you’re a frequent international flyer and plan to visit one of these countries regularly, consider leveraging your Global Entry membership to get approved for that nation’s pre-clearance program.

While Global Entry membership only costs $15 more than TSA PreCheck—$100 versus $85—you’ll get the benefits of both programs as a Global Entry member. 

This means that you’ll not only get expedited customs screening upon entry in the U.S., but you’ll also get through security faster in more than 200 domestic airports. According to the Transportation Security Administration, 93% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes to get through security in September 2019.

So if you’re trying to decide between the two programs, the one that offers the benefits of both is the clear winner, even if you’re not currently planning on traveling abroad—five years is a long time, and it may come in handy.

If you have an international trip coming up soon, you may be dismayed to see that some enrollment centers have interviews booked several months out. If this happens, don’t fret. 

As long as you’ve completed an application and received conditional approval, you can enroll in the program when you arrive in the U.S. at the end of your trip—even if you have an interview scheduled. Just make sure to have your required documents with you, including:

  • Passport
  • Permanent resident card, if applicable
  • Another form of identification, such as a driver’s license

If you don’t want to go through the interview process when you get back to the states, consider trying for a walk-in appointment at some other time. Some enrollment centers even have time set aside for walk-in appointments only. Before you go, though, call the enrollment center to make sure they accept walk-ins.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection may sometimes add more appointments and allow you to reschedule yours on an earlier date. 

Global Entry kiosks are only available in select airports, and if you’re flying into an airport that doesn’t have them, you’ll need to proceed to the main customs clearance lane along with everyone else. 

Even if you’re arriving at an airport with Global Entry kiosks, you may be selected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for additional screening. 

In some cases, the kiosks may be out of service, and you have to use the main lane. If this happens, though, you’ll be granted head-of-line privilege. 

Another thing to note is that unlike TSA Precheck, which allows children under 13 to accompany you through the expedited security lane, Global Entry member benefits don’t apply to anyone else in your travel party, including children. 

Lots of travel rewards credit cards offer an application fee credit for Global Entry, so you don’t have to worry about whether the benefits are worth the cost. 

This perk is more prominent with premium credit cards, but it’s also available on cards with lower annual fees, too. Here’s a sampling:

What’s more, many of these credit cards offer the fee credit every four years, which means you can renew your program membership before it expires at five years. 

The Global Entry program can provide a lot of value, even if you only travel abroad once or twice a year. That’s especially the case if you have a credit card that covers your application fee.

As you prepare to apply for the program, consider these aspects to know what to expect and consider how you can take advantage of the different features Global Entry provides.

Article Sources

  1. U.S Customs and Border Protection. "Global Entry." Accessed Jan. 2, 2020.