Airports are the worst part of traveling. Standing in line, taking off your shoes, carrying a suitcase, searching for an outlet, waiting for hours until your flight leaves…what’s to like? If you travel outside of the United States of America often, obtaining Global Entry can make this process so much easier.
What is it?
Global Entry is a program where frequent travelers can apply to be pre-approved as low-risk. This allows one to enter the United States more easily and efficiently.
Why do I need it?
Having a Global Entry card means that your entire process is expedited. You don’t have to wait in lines or fill out paperwork. Your wait time is reduced and you will always have TSA precheck. Essentially, you’re treated as somewhat of a VIP traveler. While this program is available in most US airports, some other countries may offer expedited entrance or other benefits, as well.
When you land at the airport, you’ll present your passport to a Global Entry kiosk and allow it to scan your fingerprint. You’ll have to answer the typical questions about what you’re bringing back into the country, why you left the country, and how long you were gone. Then a receipt of will direct you to your exit and baggage claim.
To take advantage of your TSA Precheck, you can enter your Known Traveler Number into the field when booking your flight. With Precheck, your TSA line is shorter, you aren’t required to take off your shoes, belt, or jacket, and don’t have to remove your laptop or tablet from your bag. However, you may still be subjected to random examinations.
How do I get it?
To be declared a low-risk traveler, you must fill out an application, go through a background check and interview process, and be accepted into the program. A non-refundable $100 deposit is required when you submit your application. If you are accepted, you’ll receive a Global Entry card which you’ll have to activate before use. Keep in mind that while this card verifies your status, it is not valid for use at the kiosks.
Use this link to learn more about how to apply for Global Entry.
For the Procrastinators
If you’re the type to wait until the night before to start packing, you probably also procrastinated on applying for Global Entry. (We get it, you’re busy! There’s a reason you need a vacation, right?) Luckily, there’s another option with the Mobile Passport app. Accepted at 25 airports across the US and 3 cruise ports, Mobile Passport allows you to answer the typical claims questions on your phone, wait in a much shorter line (last time I traveled, the Global Entry line had 10 people while I was the only one in the Mobile Passport line), then show your passport and receipt barcode to the claims officer and you’re on your way! Best of all, it’s free!