What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows you expedited clearance upon arrival in the United States. Global Entry members will enter the United States through an automatic kiosk at selected airports.
When you arrive at the Immigration section, you will present your machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, provide biometrics like fingerprints and a photo through a scanner and complete a customs declaration. After that, you receive a transaction receipt and you are directed to the baggage claim and exit.
To become a member of the Global Entry program you have to sign up for it and you will undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.
Your Global Entry status is reflected on your travel document. You don’t have to present any physical card. At least, that’s how it is supposed to work. Certain people will also receive a Global Entry card as part of their membership.
Benefits of Global Entry
Besides the expedited entry into the United States, you get also TSA PreCheck. TSA PreCheck gives you expedited screening at U.S. airports. I love TSA PreCheck, as it really speeds up the security screening process at airports. You can leave your shoes on and don’t even have to take your airport out.
To use TSA PreCheck, enter your Global Entry membership number in the Known Traveler Number field (KTN) in your account with your airline(s) or during your booking process if you don’t have an account with the airline.
Your membership is valid for 5 years and you are able to start the renewal process the year before your membership expires.
Of course, there is a fee to sign up for this program. It’s $100 per person. But don’t worry, you might be able to get it for free. Many of the premium credit cards give you a statement credit when you charge your Global Entry fee to this card. Most of these cards are $450+ annual fee cards like the American Express Platinum Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. There is another card out there that gives you the same benefit but only costs a fraction of the premium cards. Go for the Chase IHG Premier credit card. This one will cost you only $89 and gives you the Global Entry credit every four years as well as a free night certificate besides a ton of other benefits. This card basically pays for itself just by using the free night certificate.
You can use these credits on those cards either for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check. Even if you plan to travel internationally only once, it’s probably worth it to get through the sign up process and interview.
Who can sing up for Global Entry?
- U.S. Citizens
- U.S. lawful permanent residents
- Citizens of Argentina
- Citizens of India
- Citizens of Colombia
- Citizens of United Kingdom
- Citizens of Germany
- Citizens of Panama
- Citizens of Singapore
- Citizens of South Korea
- Citizens of Switzerland
- Citizens of Taiwan
- Mexican nationals
Find the up to date list on the CBP website.
Canadian Citizens receive Global Entry Benefits through the NEXUS program.
Depending on your country, you might have to do additional verification steps to get enrolled into Global Entry.
Who can get a Global Entry Card?
Not everyone successfully enrolled and approved for the Global Entry program will receive a physical card. You will receive a physical card only if you are
- U.S. citizen
- U.S. lawful permanent resident
- Mexican national
Everyone else, won’t get a Global Entry Card.
Global Entry Card usage
Before you can use your Global Entry card, you have to activate it in your Trusted Traveler Program (TPP) account.
You can use the Global Entry card to enter the United States at the land borders from Canada or Mexico by using the NEXUS and Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) travel lanes. Remember, you won’t be able to enter Canada through the NEXUS lanes.
The Global Entry Card will not work at airport kiosks. There you have to use your passport or permanent resident card to enter the United States via the kiosks.
Issues by not having a Global Entry Card
As I am currently not a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, I am not eligible to receive a Global Entry Card. The CBP mentions on their website multiple times, that for flying to the United States you won’t need your Global Entry Card as you have to scan your passport at the kiosk.
Now that’s true if you clear customs in the United States. However, you might run into issues if you do pre-clearance in different countries. In my case, I was traveling from Vancouver in Canada to the United States. You will do the customs clearance already at the airport in Vancouver and the flight will feel like a domestic flight. Once you land in the United States, you just get off the plane and walk out of the airport. No more customs clearance is necessary.
However, the agents in Vancouver wouldn’t let me enter the Global Entry lane without showing a Global Entry card. I tried to explain to the agent that she is wrong, that I can have Global Entry even without a card, but she just wouldn’t believe me.
Why does not everyone who is eligible for Global Entry get a card as well?
That’s the question I am asking myself for many years. To get Global Entry you have to prove that you are a low-risk traveler when coming to the United States. Therefore it shouldn’t matter how you arrive in that country. It shouldn’t matter that your home country doesn’t directly border with the United States, you should still be able to get into the U.S. no matter what way you use.
It’s the same when flying. There might be a direct flight to the U.S. or you might have to connect to a different country before your final flight lands in the United States. So why can’t I fly for example to Canada and use my Global Entry card to get into the US no matter what national I am?
I am surprised that Mexican nationals can get a Global Entry card. I am absolutely ok to be only able to use my Global Entry card only on the way into the U.S. at NEXUS and SENTRI lanes. It makes sense, that I don’t get the same benefit by going from the U.S. to Canada or Mexico.
It’s kinda like applying for a U.S. credit card but only getting the credit card number and not the actual physical card. Of course, you can shop online, but you won’t be able to use it in-store. Technically, even in-store, the salesperson could just punch in your number instead of swiping it. However, this looks very suspicious if you only come with a number but no actual card.
The photos in this post are from the CBP media site as there is no photography or even cellphone use allowed in the immigration area.
It would be amazing if cellphones would be at least allowed to text your friends and family. Sometimes you have to stand in line for hours without a chance to sit down, eat or drink or even using the restroom, without losing your spot. Cellphones would help a lot to “shorten” the waiting time for being processed.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.