If you travel at all internationally, you need to know about applying for Global Entry. RewardStock Director of User Success, Hud Callaway, recently went through the application process and shares everything you need to know about this program. In this post, we highlight everything from the basics of Global Entry to how you can get it for free (yes, you heard that correctly). Keep reading to learn all about Global Entry!
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program operated by the US Customs and Border Control under the Trusted Traveler Program. Global Entry allows individuals that are pre-approved through a screening process to bypass customs upon re-entry into the United States. Instead of waiting in line, you proceed to the Global Entry kiosks, scan your fingerprints for verification, answer a few questions, and you are given a “receipt” to continue to baggage claim and the exit. It’s that easy.
Am I Eligible for Global Entry?
If you fall into any of these categories, you are a eligible for Global Entry: U.S. Citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and citizens of Colombia, the UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, and Mexican Nationals. Note that eligibility does not automatically qualify you for acceptance into the program. Learn more about eligibility here.
Is Global Entry Available at My Airport
Currently, Global Entry kiosks are available at about 60 international airports. You can view the list of airports here.
How Much Does Global Entry Cost?
There is a $100, non-refundable fee for Global Entry. It is valid for 5 years after approval.
Is there a way to get Global Entry for free?
Yes! Several premium credit cards offer a Global Entry reimbursement as a part of their benefit package. Chase Sapphire Reserve, American Express Platinum, Citi Prestige, among others all offer this reimbursement benefit. That means if you have one of these cards, you can get Global Entry! Just pay the fee with your card and they will issue a reimbursement. I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve and was reimbursed a day after the charge posted.
How Long Does it Take to Get Global Entry?
There are multiple steps in the enrollment process:
Step 1: Create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account
Step 2: Pay the nonrefundable fee of $100
Step 3: Complete application
Step 4: In-person interview
From beginning the application to interview approval, plan on about a 2-3 month timeline. Things can move faster, but from everything we’ve researched and my own experience, this seems to be the norm.
How Do I Apply for Global Entry?
You first need to register for a GOES account and pay the $100 nonrefundable fee. This link will walk you through creating a GOES account and get you started with the application. The application is pretty comprehensive and I would plan on it taking about 30 minutes during 1 sitting to complete. The questions are your “typical” background check type of questions, for example:
- Date of birth
- City, State, Country of birth
- Criminal record
- Address history
- Employment history
Once you have paid the fee and submitted the application, you will wait for a “Conditional Approval” letter, which in my experience took about 2 weeks. This seems like the average amount of time.
What is the interview process for Global Entry?
Once you receive notice that you have been “Conditionally Approved” for Global Entry, you schedule an interview. Interviews book up very far in advance. I was seeing about 2-3 months out for the majority of availability, but was able to find 1 time slot a couple of weeks out. Keep in mind that people cancel and reschedule all the time, so even if you don’t want to wait a few months to schedule the interview, go ahead and get something on paper and check back frequently for something to open up sooner.
Interview locations tend to be at larger international airports. Based on this list of interview locations, it appears that there is 1 office per state and about 1 office within a 3 hour drive of any location. I had to drive from Raleigh to Charlotte for my interview, which was about 2.5 hours away. TSA does open satellite locations a couple times per year in smaller airports. I confirmed with the TSA agent in Charlotte that RDU Airport will have a satellite location at the end of May, so if you’re in this area, you can look to interview there.
You must bring your Conditional Approval letter, your passport and 1 other form of documentation. Most people bring their driver’s license as the other form of documentation. All of the accepted documents are on the Conditional Approval letter.
The interview itself lasts about 5 minutes. The representative asks some basic questions. Here are some examples:
- Do you want Global Entry for personal or business travel?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- What do you do for work?
It is important that you answer everything truthfully, as they have already performed a background check. After they ask the questions, they review some details of your application, take your picture, and take your fingerprints to allow you to use the Global Entry kiosks.
Once approved, the “official” language is that you receive your Global Entry card within 2 weeks. I received my Global Entry card 10 days after my approval. You are required to carry your Global Entry card with you when returning to the country and you must activate it by following the prompts in the packet you receive.
Global Entry is a great program that will save you valuable time if you travel internationally. If you have ever waited in 30+ minute customs lines after getting off a long international flight, you know the pain. If you have one of the cards listed in this post, then it is a no brainer to apply. If you have any questions about Global Entry, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.