Global Entry — worth every penny if you travel internationally, even domestically soon

by Charlie Leocha on October 28, 2011


Earlier this year, I signed up for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP)Global Entry Program. I have traveled to Europe twice and Canada once since then and for me, it has already paid for itself. This is one government program that outdoes expectations.

Here is how the program is described on the Global Entry Website:

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports.

The first time a veteran international traveler passes through U.S. customs and immigration at Philadelphia, JFK or Dulles using the CPB Global Entry kiosks is cathartic. This new process saves so much time for both travelers and the CBP personnel and it allows travelers to avoid lengthy lines.

Simply slide your passport into the slot, look into the camera and put your fingers on the print reader, then fill out the entry card online right at the kiosk and a Global Entry passenger is on his way.

On an August flight that returned from Italy to JFK the passport arrivals area was a zoo. Lines were snaking back and forth. Passengers were shuffling. CBP personnel were trying to maintain order. Even the escalators were crowded.

I asked the first CPB person I saw, “Where is Global Entry?”

She directed me to the center lines where I found the Global Entry kiosks and within two minutes, I was on my to a connecting flight that I would have missed without the ability to bypass the lines at passport control.

The process is simple to sign up for Global Entry.

    Simply fill out an application online.
    Schedule an interview at one of the enrollment centers.
    At the interview you will have to answer some simple questions, have your photo taken and your fingerprints scanned.
    Bring your passport and one other form of ID and the officer will give you a Global Entry sticker.

I went through the process to see how seamlessly it worked and it worked perfectly. I even was able to schedule my CBP interview before a return flight from Boston so the interview didn’t require an additional trip to the airport enrollment office.

In addition to being able to move through the passport and immigration control lines more quickly, the Global Entry program automatically makes you eligible for the new TSA PreCheck program that allows known travelers to move through select domestic airport security more easily and eases customs and border issues to Mexico and Canada.

On Oct. 4, 2011 the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) launched an expedited screening pilot program called TSA PreCheck. CBP has partnered with TSA on this Department of Homeland Security initiative, which is designed to help TSA focus resources on higher-risk and unknown passengers while expediting the process for lower-risk and known passengers whenever possible. U.S. citizens who are members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI Trusted Traveler programs are eligible to participate in TSA’s program.

TSA PreCheck passengers could qualify for expedited screening through U.S. airport security checkpoints via designated screening lanes. Additional potential benefits may include:

    Keeping shoes on
    Keeping 3-1-1 compliant bag in carry-on
    Leaving laptop in bag
    Leaving on light outerwear/jacket
    Leaving belt on

There are still many unknowns with this program. It is a work in progress, but should, soon, make travel security checks less intrusive and time-consuming for known travelers.

Right now the program is in testing phase at the Miami, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Detroit airports with American Airlines and Delta Airlines. Global Entry members must register their Global Entry number with their respective frequent flier programs in order to participate. I just did it. Both AA and Delta have a new block in their member information online form.

Bottom line: Global Entry is worth every penny for all frequent travelers, even if they have limited international flights because of the integration with the expanding TSA PreCheck program.

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this. I have registered my Global Entry # with AA and DL. I signed up for Global Entry using a $100 credit on my American Express Platinum card. I used it coming into the US via JFK last month for the first time, it truly was a breeze. Quite a change from my previous experiences. And now hopefully the expedited TSA screens will be in my travel future as well.

  • Reichen

    Awesome program. First used it coming back from New Zealand. The lines at LAX were horrible. I faced at least three hours of waiting had I not had the Global Entry. I walked over to the dedicated line, surprising the customs employee who remarked how nobody was using this system – followed the instructions, and then walked back into the USA.  The whole process took 4 minutes.  I am in love with the Global Entry program.

  • Sharon

    Just curious.  What are the, or what type are the simple questions?  I used to have the INS Pass several years ago but don’t recall any questions.  Are the airports listed for interviews also the airports w/ Global Entry kiosks?  I travel through ORD & remember from INSP days that JFK, Dulles, & LAX had it but Chicago didn’t.

  • the3

    Delta agents cannot find where to register my Global Entry # (I’ve tried 2 times).  Can you give me any information that would help them find the place to do that?  Thank you.

  • http://www.tripso.com/author/leocha Charlie Leocha

    @the3 Go to your profile data in your frequent flier account. Scroll down to “Secure Flight Passenger Data.” There is a box there that is titled “Known Traveler Number”

  • http://www.tripso.com/author/leocha Charlie Leocha

    The questions were relatively innocuous, like checking your address, where you got your passport and getting a phone number for their records. It was all very simple. Go to the global entry website. All the information about where kiosks can be found on this page.

  • Anne Woodyard

    Terrific program! What a relief it is, upon entering the US, not to join the hordes at Passport Control. It is well worth every penny! Anne-Music and Markets Tours http://www.musicetc.us

  • Random

    Shame it is not available to people from the UK

  • Ediemac

    The questions are the same ones on the blue customs form you fill out (carrying more than $10,000, been on a farm, etc) .  You’re also asked for your airline, flight number and final destination.

  • Ediemac

    Just did it today.  Go to your account page for Skymiles.  To the right of the TSA Redress number field, there’s a field for Trusted Traveler.  Enter your 9 digit GE number there.

  • zephyr17

    It turns out that it available to residents of the UK.  From the application instructions:

    •A citizen of the United Kingdom that does not legally reside in the United States or Canada may apply for all Trusted Traveler programs except Into Canada via, land, air or sea.

  • http://traveltamed.com/ Azeem Ahmed @ travel tamed

    This is an awesome stuff. I knew about this earlier but never took any heed to know how much it helped the travelers. This does bring about so much convenience for traveling. Thanks for posting this valuable piece of information.

  • Random

    thanks for the info. On the Eligibility tab it states “Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents,
    Dutch citizens, and Mexican nationals. Canadian citizens and residents
    may enjoy Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.”
    I took this to mean that UK was not allowed.

  • zephyr17

    Too bad it doesn’t say that up front, but it is clear in the detailed application instructions that UK citizens are allowed to enroll in Global Entry.  Maybe the problem is UK citizens can’t enroll in NEXUS, which is mainly for expedited land border crossings between US and Canada.  The application instructions have a LOT of detail on which program you can enroll in based on citizenship.  It is very clear that UK citizens are allowed, because there is a certain document requirement that only applies to them (don’t recall what it was, though).

  • Charles Leocha

    Global Entry is available to citizens of the UK. It works well for CBP passage, but it is not valid for the TSA PreCheck programs. Those programs according to Director Pistole are for U.S. citizens only.

  • Wejane

    I too am a Kiwi and am trying to apply online – did you experience any problems completing the form – there appears to be a problem with the page where one has to complete citizenship details and trying to contact the folks is impossible. They don’t reply to email inquiries and the only phone number I can find – doesnt work. No wonder no one uses the program – it’s impossible to apply :) LOL

  • Nottoday

    The CPB is denying people based on forgotten
    misdemeanor infractions (as if that is some form of indicator whether
    you are safe to fly). Breaking Americans down into trusted and not
    trusted travelers is nothing short of a traveling class system and unconstitutional
    in nature – you can be sure lawsuits will be flying on this – no
    pun intended.Sadly America has lost its way…and it appears our foreign detractors will be correct in the end…that the American public was so feeble to not defend its own individual liberties from the US federal government which has truly morphed into a singular tool for government bureaucracies such as the CPB and HS to make money for special interests and maintain its own growth.

  • Pingback: Global Entry — final DHS rule expands program

  • A UK Citizen

    Two UK required pieces of information: Police Certificate from ACPO (sort of CRB check for immigration purposes) and a “promotion code” which I am being prompted for and have no idea what it is or where to obtain it from.  Online help doesn’t (help).  Anyone know what this is?

  • craig_mn

    Anyone have any insight on this? I just filled in the whole application form and now I’m stuck on these final two points.

  • Annabar

    It’s about time that uk passport holders could get global entry. I travel to the us many times a year and waiting in immigration is horrendous. If I can get a visa (which I have) why not global entry? Sometimes the wait is 2 hrs!

  • Aten

    Craig I have applied as a Brit the promotional code is given to frequent flyers for Virgin & BA as it is being trialled for brits the only way you can get this is if you are a frequent flyer or a top tier member of their respective BA Executive Club / Virgin Gold. I am not allowed to advise of the promotional code but you can ring the airliines who can advise if you meet the requirements.

  • Aten

    And to add yes you have to pay and get the police certificate you can email 

    customer.services AT acro.pnn.police.uk who can email you the forms. Hope this helps! Once you have done this and have the promotional code prepare for a long wait as its take longer for Brits to be vetted mine has been sitting at “In review” status for 11 weeks there is a big backlog which is also not helping! Fingers crossed that this goes through sooner rather then later as cant wait to take advantage of skipping those dreaded queues at JFK!

  • Nancy Gershman

    Charlie, you may want to have another column for your readers on the subject of G.O.E.S. A significant number of applicants are finding that during the
    G.O.E.S. sign up process they mistakenly sign up for the Canadian Global Entry (NEXUS) instead of the U.S. version. The first sign is that the fee is $50 rather than $100. Even though on the website it clearly says that when you hit the submit button the $50 fee (for NEXUS) is non-refundable, I just received a call back from Gary Wells, a lovely supervisor from the G.O.E.S. Enrollment Center in Ontario
    (905-994-6540) who apparently has been aware of this issue and was authorized (and kind enough) to cancel my enrollment and refund my $50 so that I could re-apply to the US version. There are other enrollment centers who strictly enforce the non-refund policy so I wanted you to spread the word that there is inconsistency, depending who you talk to. Thanks, NG

  • Beadgirl

    Just used my Global Entry for first time in MIA. Since it didn’t read my fingerprints well enough, I got a big X on my receipt. Do you know what happens next? You have to go into a back room and get interviewed. That whole process took a half hour and might have taken longer except that one of the officers took pity on my obvious dismay and helped me get through faster. If I had just been in the regular line, I would have been through much quicker. Everyone using this program should be aware that any glitch might cause a lot of hassle!

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.alexander.16100 Bob Alexander

    “This is one government program that outdoes expectations.” So let me get this straight: first the government creates a horrendous, miserable process for people to enter the country. Then the government creates a loophole where you pay money, get fingerprinted, submit to an interrogation, and register with the authorities so that you can avoid the horrendous, miserable process the government created in the first place. And you have nothing but praise for the “government program that outdoes expectations”?!

    I guess it goes to show that the best way for a government program to exceed expectations is by exempting you from even worse government programs.

  • Charles Leocha

    Now the airlines are learning from the government — they are getting us to pay fees to avoid paying even more onerous fees.

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