Last Christmas, in preparation for our much anticipated and longed for post-pandemic world travels, the backpacking husband and I gifted each other the price of a Global Entry application.
Travel Planning: How to Travel as A Trusted Traveller with Global Entry
WHAT IS GLOBAL ENTRY?
Global Entry is one of the Trusted Traveller Programmes of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service that allows pre-approved travellers to receive expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States AND ALSO TO MANY OTHER COUNTRIES worldwide. All through using fast and easy to use automatic kiosks.
WHY BE A TRUSTED TRAVELLER?
With the media and news reporting stressed out travellers and horrific backlogs and long lines due to extra verifying and checking at airports and planes leaving without the passengers who hadn’t been able to clear security fast enough – even when allowing for the recommended 3 hour time frame for international travel – and then having to stand in queues for hours on arrival to clear immigration, we decided to plan ahead and apply to see if we were eligible for Global Entry status.
The Global Entry Trusted Traveller Programme is the perfect travel accessory for those who want to avoid stressful time consuming queues lines and backlogs at airports!
THE BENEFITS OF GLOBAL ENTRY STATUS
Reduced wait times with self-service kiosks or E-Gates using facial comparison technologies
No paperwork to be filled out by passengers upon entry
Includes the coveted TSA PreCheck®
IS IT WORTH THE TIME AND EXPENSE INVESTMENT?
Until we actually used our Global Entry Status for the very first time when we travelled into the USA and I have to tell you that until that point I hadn’t quite fully appreciated all the time and stress it would save us. It was absolutely fantastic.
We deplaned at our destination (Miami) and instead of following most of our fellow passengers to join an already horrifically lengthy queue in the immigration hall – we followed the signs for Global Entry where there was no line at all!
At Miami International Airport (MIA) we approached one of the Global Entry kiosks.
At the kiosk, I expected to have my passport and fingerprints scanned but due to brand new technology just installed, we just had our faces scanned automatically instead. The machine approved my image and immediately issued a paper receipt for me to hand to the immigration officer, who waved us through and wished us a nice day.
From walking off the plane to getting to the taxi rank took us exactly 12 minutes!
WHO CAN APPLY FOR GLOBAL ENTRY STATUS
The great news is that you don’t have to be an American Citizen to apply for Global Entry status.
Currently, trusted travellers from countries including the United Kingdom, India, Qatar, Germany, Panama, Colombia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Mexico, can be eligible. And, I’m sure that list could be added to over time.
And, once you have it, it’s good for 5 years and can be renewed before it expires.
On our departure from Miami we saw that from our boarding passes we were TSA Approved, so joined an expedited line marked ‘TSA’ and breezed through security with priority over other travellers. We didn’t have to take out our electronic items or take our shoes off – or go through body scanners – so getting to our gate was a speedy and stress free process.
Global Entry speeds you through airports like you were royalty or rock stars!
HOW TO GET GLOBAL ENTRY
The process involves applicants being vetted to ensure that they meet the qualifications for the program. As we are UK citizens, we started by applying online at the official Trusted Traveler Programs Website (note the American spelling not used in my own narrative) where we filled in the online form and paid the non-refundable application fee of $100 plus an extra fee (around £42) each to initiate a UK personal security check to see if you have a criminal record or have previously violated any customs laws.
Understandably, the personal checks are extensive and as you might expect, these take time.
GET FAST PRIVLIGED TRAVEL FOR FREE!
It’s well worth knowing that if you have/use certain credit cards – then it’s possible to apply for Global Entry for FREE because many of the fee-based credit cards have additional benefits that can include a Global Entry application fee waiver. So do check your credit card benefits in case you qualify for the waiver and save at least $100.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET APPROVED?
From application it took us around six months to get our conditional approval.
After conditional approval you then need to attend an in-person interview.
Interviews are held on arrival at selected Global Entry Enrolment Centres at airports. See the FULL LIST.
After three months of waiting, we were hoping to have our conditional approval in time for our birthday celebration weekend trip to Dublin (where there is a Global Entry In-Person Interview Facility) but that didn’t happen.
So, instead, we did our in-person interviews on our arrival into the USA from our flight from London.
We sought The Global Entry Interview Counter (at immigration) and we had our formal interviews after which we were given our Global Entry KTN – Known Traveller Number – which would allow the use of Global Entry kiosks.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE IN-PERSON INTERVIEW
The official who interviews you will require:
- A printout of your conditional approval for Global Entry.
- Your ID. I used my passport.
- A form of proof of residence (we used our driver’s licence).
During the (10 minute in my case) in-person interview, I was asked why I wanted to use Global Entry and my paperwork was looked over and checked and my photo and fingerprints were taken. Then, I was given my KTN. My backpacking husband was asked more questions than I was (he was interviewed by a different official) and he was asked about the countries he’d visited previously (which he’d already listed on his online application). He too was then given his KTN.
We made a note of our KTN – Known Traveller Number – on the back page of our passports and we’ll make sure that when we book future flights that we quote the number in the relevant section – which will then ensure we also get TSA Approval on our flight boarding passes to further help with a speedy and efficient travel experience.
Because we aren’t US citizens, we are UK passport holders, we knew we wouldn’t be issued with a physical Global Entry Card.
This actually doesn’t matter to us, however, that we don’t get issued a card because the Global Entry Cards are not actually required at the airport kiosk. They are primarily issued to help with speedy travel entry via land or seaports.
Did you know about Global Entry?
Did you know about TSA Precheck?
Have you always wondered why some people are able to breeze through ‘special lines’ at immigration while you have to line up, tired, hot, breathing other peoples air, in the long queues knowing there’s a possibility that you’ll miss your connecting flight ?
Well, now you do know and to quote the Global Entry mantra… what are you waiting for?