Global Entry Defined
International travel can be so exciting! It can also be intimidating, exhausting and full of stress. One of the most time consuming and stressful parts of flying internationally can be going through Customs & Immigration. Wouldn’t you love to be able to bypass the lines and the security scans where you almost have to undress and unpack your carryon to get through the checkpoint?
Well if you’re looking for some relief, we may have a simple solution for you. It’s called the Global Entry program. Have you heard about it? If you travel internationally more than once a year, this program may have you smiling through Customs!
The Global Entry program is a US program that allows qualified travelers to skip the immigration lines and check back into the country on a kiosk. It not only helps you avoid the lines, it also takes the place of filling out the Customs form that everyone gets handed on the plane before their arrival back in the US. And lastly, it gives the qualified traveler TSA Precheck status. This helps to get through airport security more quickly for Domestic as well as International flights.
If your boarding pass states that you are TSA Precheck, you get through security on a designated line, usually much shorter than the regular lines. You don’t have to remove your shoes, your laptop or the liquids/gels out of your carryon luggage. Getting through security is a much kinder and quicker process.
So how does one go about qualifying for the Global Entry program? It’s quite simple, really. You go to the website http://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/how-apply and follow the instructions to apply. You have to set up an online account, fill out the online application and pay a $100 non-refundable fee to submit your application. Once your application is reviewed and accepted, you then have to schedule an interview at the closest participating Global Entry Enrollment Center. Most are found at International airports and you simply bring your passport and another form of ID and are asked several questions, fingerprinted and then given your Trusted Traveler number. The $100 fee is for a 5 year period.
There are a few things to know about the program, though. Not all airlines recognize the Global Entry system and not all airports are equipped with the Global Entry kiosks. To make the program truly worthwhile, you should check your airport of choice for International travel to see if they do have the kiosks before applying. Global Entry is also NOT recognized in foreign countries, so it doesn’t help you bypass Customs & Immigration when you arrive at your foreign destination. It only applies to getting back into the US.
There are also a few rules with the TSA Precheck designation. First and foremost, you are not guaranteed TSA Precheck on every boarding pass. The program randomly selects travelers in the program to NOT have the status. Why? It keeps everyone on their toes, both security personnel and travelers. It can be frustrating to know that you’ve been vetted and paid for the program, but not get the benefits every time. It’s equally frustrating to listen to travelers who AREN’T part of the program say how surprised they are to have been listed as TSA Precheck. The fact is, they randomly select program non-participants to help the system and to move security along at particularly busy travel times.
So the system is NOT perfect and it can at times be frustrating. But if you travel often enough, it is so well worth the time and money spent for the application process to cut through those busy lines when you’re tired and just want to get where you’re going. Please contact us with any questions or help with understanding the application process.