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What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. This means that you won’t have to wait in the usually long immigration line when entering the United States. In addition, many airports also have a Global Entry line for customs, so you don’t have to wait to have your baggage inspected.
How does it work?
At certain airports (I don’t think that list is updated),you go up to the Global Entry kiosks, scan your passport or U.S. permanent resident card, go through fingerprint verification, complete a short customs declaration, and then receive a receipt that directs you to baggage claim and the exit. Sometimes this process will only take you about 2 minutes and you can make it back to your home while others from your flight are still stuck in line.
What type of citizens are eligible?
U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of a few other countries are eligible for Global Entry membership. Global Entry is also available to:
- Citizens of United Kingdom
- Citizens of Germany
- Citizens of the Netherlands
- Citizens of Panama
- Citizens of South Korea
- Mexican nationals
How do you apply?
Applying is pretty simple. You fill out the application online (see my application guide here), schedule and attend an interview (read about my interview experience here) and then get approved. The entire process can take only a couple of weeks if you’re a bit lucky but it can also take up to a couple of months depending on where you live. The determining factor for your waiting time is how soon you can schedule your interview.
How much does it cost?
The application for Global Entry costs $100 and it is good for five years!
You can use credit cards like the Platinum Card from American Express or the Citi Prestige to cover this costs as they provide you with statement credit for Global Entry. If you are not approved for Global Entry, you do not get your money back.
Can I get approved with a criminal background?
For the most part you need a clean criminal background to get approved. This typically means even misdemeanors. There are some reports of other getting approved despite having minor charges on their record (usually from quite some time ago), but there are many more reports of other being denied for misdemeanors.
Here’s the list of disqualifying criteria listed by Global Entry:
- Provide false or incomplete information on the application;
- Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges, including outstanding warrants;
- Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country;
- Are subjects of an investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency;
- Are inadmissible to the U.S. under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or if they
- Cannot satisfy CBP of their low-risk status or meet other program requirements.
Does it include TSA Pre Check?
Yes. Upon being approved, you’ll be issued a Known Traveller Number, which you will use for TSA Pre Check. This is why I recommend most people to apply for Global Entry over TSA Pre-Check since it only costs $15 more but you obtain the additional benefit of flying through immigration and customs.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.