What is Global Entry and how do you get it?

After a long international trip, you may be ready to get home. But first, you’ll have to go through customs to reenter the U.S. And that line might be longer than you’d like. The Global Entry program can help you bypass those lines when you arrive stateside.

Take a look at how this program works and what you need to do to apply.

Key takeaways

  • Global Entry helps travelers bypass long lines at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints when arriving in the U.S.

  • It costs $100 to enroll in Global Entry. If approved, the membership lasts for five years.

  • An application and in-person interview are required to be approved for Global Entry.

  • Many travel credit cards, including some Capital One cards, reimburse cardholders for the Global Entry application fee.*

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What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) run by CBP that lets you bypass customs lines when entering more than 75 U.S. airports.

With Global Entry, you can use automated kiosks rather than waiting in line to speak with a customs agent. At the kiosk, you’ll submit your passport and declare any goods. Then, you’ll either be directed to a CBP officer or cleared to go.

What does Global Entry get you?

Global Entry allows you to visit a kiosk when passing through customs, avoiding long lines and paperwork. If the kiosks are down for any reason, you’ll jump to the head of the regular customs line. Plus, you’ll be able to access TSA PreCheck® when traveling domestically through airport security and NEXUS and SENTRI when reentering the U.S. by land or sea from Canada or Mexico.

Who can qualify for Global Entry?

To qualify for the Global Entry program, you must be a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident or citizen of the following countries:

  • Argentina

  • Bahrain

  • Brazil

  • Colombia

  • Germany

  • India

  • Mexico

  • The Netherlands

  • Panama

  • Singapore

  • South Korea

  • Switzerland

  • Taiwan 

  • United Kingdom

Canadian citizens and permanent residents can also use Global Entry if they’re members of the NEXUS program.

How much does it cost to enroll in Global Entry?

Applying for Global Entry requires a $100 nonrefundable fee, and the membership lasts for five years. If you travel internationally often, it may be worth the cost.

That said, the fee is nonrefundable, even if the application is denied. And if you renew your membership, you’ll need to pay the fee again.

Some travel credit cards, like Venture, Venture X, Spark Miles and Venture X Business, offer a statement credit up to $100 for the Global Entry fee.

How to sign up for Global Entry

Signing up for Global Entry can take several months. Here are the steps to apply:

1. Open a TTP account

First, you’ll need to create a TTP account. Every member of a household who’s applying for Global Entry needs an account, no matter their age.

2. Complete the application

After setting up a TTP account, you can complete the application and pay the $100 fee.

3. Schedule the interview

Once you complete the application, pay the fee and receive conditional approval, you’ll schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. You may also be able to interview at a major airport with Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival the next time you’re traveling. Just remember to bring your passport and the required documents.

4. Attend the interview

You’ll need to bring the following to your interview:

  • Valid passport

  • Form of ID, like your driver’s license or ID card

  • Proof of address, like a utility bill

  • A permanent resident card for lawful permanent residents

If you’re approved after the interview, you should receive your Global Entry card within two to four weeks to use at NEXUS and SENTRI checkpoints. But you’ll still need a passport or permanent resident card at a Global Entry kiosk.

Should you sign up for Global Entry?

Whether Global Entry is worth signing up for depends on your travel habits. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends enrolling in Global Entry if you travel internationally more than three times a year. But if you travel more within the U.S., there may be other options for speeding up airport lines.

Other time-saving programs to consider

While Global Entry is an option for frequent international travelers, it’s not the only program that can save you time while traveling. Here are a couple of other programs to consider:

TSA PreCheck®

TSA PreCheck® allows qualified travelers to navigate through domestic airport security faster. Travelers with TSA PreCheck® can access lines with shorter wait times and don’t have to remove their belts, shoes, outerwear, laptops or small liquids.

TSA PreCheck® costs between $78 and $85 to enroll. It may not help you move through international customs checkpoints faster, but it can cut down on security wait times in U.S. airports.

Mobile Passport Control (MPC)

Mobile Passport Control (MPC) lets you submit customs declarations, photos and travel information through a mobile app. Travelers who use MPC could access a priority line at customs and avoid filling out paper forms.

MPC may not allow you to skip the line at customs checkpoints, but it can still speed up the process of reentry into the U.S. The program is free, but it’s not available at every airport.

Global Entry FAQ

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Global Entry program:

Most applicants can expect a decision in four to six months. If approved, new members will receive a Global Entry card in the mail two to four weeks after approval.

Getting approved for Global Entry isn’t a guarantee. Applicants who are denied will receive a written explanation. It’s also possible to request a reconsideration.

All travelers in a household, including minors, must be enrolled in Global Entry to bypass the customs line and use the kiosks. Guardians of minors must fill out separate applications, pay the $100 application fee and schedule interviews for each child.

Global Entry in a nutshell

If you travel internationally often, Global Entry can speed up the customs process when reentering the country. And with included access to TSA PreCheck®, you could save time when you leave and when you come home.

Have more travel plans in your future? Learn how a travel rewards card from Capital One could help you earn rewards on future trips and cover your Global Entry application fee.

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