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How to Apply for Global Entry: Everything You Need to Know

If you have ever traveled internationally before, I am sure you have heard of Global Entry. Global Entry allows you to skip those long lines at customs. But how exactly does one obtain Global Entry? That is just one of the many questions I am going to answer for you. Here is everything you need to know about Global Entry and how to apply.

What is Global Entry?

Let's first answer the most basic question and the main reason why you are here. What is Global Entry? Global Entry is a program by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low risk travelers upon arrival into the United States. Members who have Global Entry are allowed to skip the long lines at U.S. Customs upon arrival by proceeding to the Global Entry kiosks which are currently available at 53 U.S. airports and 15 pre-clearance locations. I mean who wouldn't want to skip a long line after an international flight?

So how do the Global Entry kiosks work? When you return to the U.S. after an international flight, you will head straight to the kiosks that are marked Global Entry. From there the machine will scan both your passport and finger prints to verify your identity and then you will complete a customs declaration. The kiosk will then print you a receipt and you will be directed to the baggage claim and the exit.

Now that you know what Global Entry is, I am sure you are wondering if it is right for you and how to apply. Below are some of the topics that we are going to cover in today's post.

  • Is Global Entry Right for you?

  • Who is eligible for Global Entry?

  • How much does Global Entry cost?

  • Is TSA PreCheck included?

  • How do you apply for Global Entry?

  • My application has been approved, what can I expect with the interview?

  • Is Global Entry worth it?


Is Global Entry right for you?

This question is easy to answer. Do you travel internationally at least once a year? If you answered yes, then YES Global Entry is for you! I know you may think that only one international trip a year is not sufficient enough for Global Entry but I beg to differ. Any time you can travel more efficiently the answer is always yes.

Who is eligible for Global Entry?

To be eligible for Global Entry you must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. lawful permanent resident or a citizen from 12 of the listed countries to be eligible for Global Entry membership.

How much does it cost to apply for Global Entry?

Global Entry has a nonrefundable application fee of $100. If you have a travel credit card, you may be eligible for a reimbursement of your application fee when you apply. The Points Guy has a full guide on which credit cards will reimburse you for your Global Entry application.

Global Entry Kiosks
Global Entry Kiosks. Image Credit: CBP

What is the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck?

I applied for the Global Entry program on February 22nd, 2022. I received my Global Entry conditional approval on February 24th, 2022. Once I received my conditional approval, I immediately logged in to my TTP account to schedule my interview. w. . r TSA PreCheck is $85 and this program is available at select U.S. airports. So if you do not travel internationally, TSA PreCheck would be the better program for you. Please note that Global Entry does include TSA PreCheck as a part of the program.

How do you apply for Global Entry?

The application process for Global Entry is fairly easy and can be done online.

The first step in the application process is the need to create a Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) account. If multiple family members are applying for Global Entry, each individual will need their own TTP account. Once your account is active, you are able to choose which program you are applying for.

The multiple programs that the trusted traveler programs offers
Once you create your Trusted Travelers Program account, you choose the program you are applying for. Image Credit:

Once you click the Global Entry program, you can start the application process. The application process is an online form that will have you fill out personal information that will include:

  • Your email address (This is important to create a account)

  • Address history for the past five years

  • Employment history for the past five years

  • International Travel history for the past five years

  • Court documents (if you have a criminal history)

  • Vehicle information (if you plan on driving across the border from Mexico into the U.S.)

  • Phone number(s)

  • Documentation to prove any other citizenships (if any)

In addition to your personal information, the Global Entry application form will also need documents to prove your citizenship. These documents include:

  • Proof of citizenship

  • Passport

  • Proof that you are allowed to enter the U.S.

  • Permanent Resident Card (if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.)

  • Valid driver's license

Once you filled out the online Global Entry form, before you can submit your application, you must pay a $100 nonrefundable fee. This fee is paid through the TTP website under your account.

After you have paid the $100 nonrefundable fee and have submitted your Global Entry application, you will need to wait for CBP to review your application. Once your application has been reviewed you will either be conditionally approved or denied. If you are conditionally approved it is now time to schedule an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center or you can interview on arrival from an international flight.

How long is the Global Entry application process?

The Global Entry processing times will be different for everyone but typically the whole process can take a few months. The process time depends on your application answers and how quickly you can get an interview. Finding an interview date is usually what will take the longest, so if you get a conditional approval and have an international trip planned, I would consider to interview on arrival.

What was my Global Entry process like?

I just recently applied and went through the Global Entry process so I would like to share my experience as an example for you.

I applied for the Global Entry program on February 22nd, 2022. I received my Global Entry conditional approval on February 24th, 2022. Once I received my conditional approval, I immediately logged in my TTP account to schedule my interview.

Finding an interview in the immediate future was my struggle. At the time of scheduling my interview, the earliest date at DTW (my home airport) was in May of 2022. I looked at other larger airports and an airport that I was flying out of in April but all of these airports either had no interview dates or dates that ranged from August to October of 2022.

I originally scheduled my interview for May 9th, 2022 at DTW but I'm impatient so I checked the website daily. If you find yourself in a situation where there are no interview dates in the immediate future, I suggest checking the website because there are cancellations daily. I was lucky to find a cancellation and I rescheduled my interview for April 4th, 2022.

In total, my application process from start to finish took me about a month and a half but I have friends that are still in the process. Some friends have applied months ago and still have not received their conditional approval and others are waiting for their interview date. So as you can see, the process will be different for everyone.

My application has been approved, what can I expect with the interview?

You have received your conditional approval and scheduled your interview. Now it is time to prepare. Let's talk about what to expect during a Global Entry interview and what you should bring with you.

First and foremost, don't be nervous. I was slightly nervous but a lot of my friends told me it's an easy interview and to be honest, I wouldn't even call it an interview. The "interview" is more of a verification process of your information.

What to bring with you to the interview?

It is the day of your interview, what should you bring? According to the TTP website, they suggest that you bring:

  • A copy of your conditional approval letter

  • Valid passport or permanent resident card

  • Proof of residency (driver's license, mortgage statement, or recent utility bill)

Don't forget to bring your passport to your Global Entry interview!
Don't forget to bring your passport to your interview!

For my interview, I brought my letter of conditional approval, drivers license, passport and a utility bill. I was unsure of what they were going to ask for so I came prepared. When I arrived to the Global Entry enrollment center at DTW, I checked in and was asked for my passport and driver's license. That is the only information that they asked to see. But please keep in mind that this is my experience and they may ask to see something different from you when you arrive for your Global Entry interview so please come prepared.

What to expect with the interview?

You are now in front of the CBP officer, what can you expect with the Global Entry interview process? The interview only lasts about 5-10 minutes. The CBP officer will have you verify all of your application information. I personally was asked to verify my email, full name, date of birth, home address and place of employment. Once I verified my information, The officer asked me two questions:

  1. Have you ever been arrested before?

  2. What countries have I visited over the last 5 years and was it for business or pleasure?

The final step in the interview process is for you to get your finger prints taken digitally and a photo taken. Once these two things were done, I was handed my Known Traveler Number (KTN). The officer gave me an information guide about the Global Entry program and a quick run down on how the kiosks work. From there, the officer informed me that once I got my acceptance letter into the Global Entry program, I could immediately use TSA PreCheck and Global Entry kiosks upon arrival from an international flight.

how to use the global entry kiosk
Customs and Border Patrol officer showing how to use the Global Entry kiosk. Image Credit: CBP

How long does it take to get the acceptance letter? I was told from the officer it could take 2-3 days to receive my acceptance letter into the program and approximately 2-3 weeks for my global entry card to arrive. I received my acceptance letter the day of my interview and my global entry card arrived on April 9th, 2022. Once you receive your card, you will receive instructions on how to activate your Global Entry card.

Global Entry Card
Global Entry Card

Is Global Entry worth it?

If you are asking me personally, I say YES! Pre-pandemic I travelled internationally at least 4 times a year and plan to get back to that travel schedule. So for me, yes I think it is worth it. Any time you can travel more efficiently the answer is always yes.

But ultimately for you, you are going to have to decide if the program is right for you. If you are someone who doesn't travel internationally then this may not be the program for you and you may want to look into TSA PreCheck.

Either way, I hope you found this to be helpful. Whether you are just now considering Global Entry or are in the process applying for Global Entry, I hope my insights into the program and my experience helped you in any way. My goal is to help provide assistance to everyone who wants to travel. I know travel can be a daunting task but honestly, it doesn't have to be and that is why I am here! My goal is to help make travel more easily accessible to so you can confidently escape to that dream destination of yours!

So let me know down in the comments below if you found this blog post helpful, what your Global Entry experience was like and whether or not your think Global Entry is worth it. Until then, I will see you in my next destination!

Check out my other blog posts that I think you may find helpful linked down below:

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