A note from Sarah Page: You may know Kevin from the MileValue Award Booking Service. Together with his wife, their friends and family refer to them as K2, which you’ll notice in the by line. They’re excited to contribute to MileValue and I’m happy to be able to share two new perspectives with all of you!

After months of waiting, we both have our Global Entry cards. It was definitely a marathon rather than a sprint. But as they say, good things come to those who wait. And wait, and wait… 

Here is our experience with the process and tips for along the way. 

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry (GE) is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program which allows approved individuals expedited entry to the U.S. at select airports. There are designated Global Entry kiosks as pictured in this post where one scans their passport and fingerprints, answers a few questions, and receives a printout so you can get on with your life. That means no more waiting in the regular passport line and potentially missing your connecting flight, which happened to us a few months ago at Washington Dulles. 

There is a $100 fee for Global Entry which is good for 5 years, and it even includes TSA PreCheck to get through security easier and faster when flying out of the more than 200 participating airports and on 73 airlines

Top Tip – use a credit card which offers a Global Entry credit such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card among others.

You can apply for Global Entry if you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Citizens of Canada, Mexico, and 11 other countries may also apply. 

Global Entry Step by Step

  1. Apply online by creating an account with the Trusted Traveler Programs and select Global Entry– fill out the application (personal info, countries you’ve travelled to in the past 5 years, addresses for the past 5 years, and employment for the past 5 years) and pay the $100 fee. Remember to use a credit card offering a GE credit. 
  2. Wait for CBP to review your application and, if approved, your application status will be changed automatically to Conditionally Approved.
  3. Then schedule your interview via your online application. 
  4. For the interview, bring your passport and one other government issued ID (such as a driver’s license) along with a copy of your conditional approval letter.
  5. If approved by the CBP at the interview, your online application status should change within a couple days to Approved, and your GE card should then arrive via snail mail within a couple weeks. 
  6. Rejoice! You can now use TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. Just remember to include your Known Traveler Number (often referred to as KTN) on your flight reservations. This KTN is now the same as your Global Entry application ID.
Photo credit: CBP

Heads Up: Keep your Trusted Traveler Programs account log in information safe. If you get a new passport or have other changes to your information, you’ll need to log in and click on Update Documents.

Apply and Relax

A couple recent threads on Reddit, here and here, indicate most applicants are still experiencing a long waiting period between submitting the application and receiving conditional approval. 

After submitting the application there is nothing to do but wait. Each of our conditional approvals came five to five and a half months after submitting our applications. 

Top Tip – You can use any applicable credit card and receive the Global Entry credit, even if the card holder is not the Global Entry applicant. For example, if Timmy Traveler is applying for Global Entry and does not have a credit card which gives him a credit, he can use Mike Million Miler’s United Explorer or Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, to pay the $100 application fee and neither will be out any money. Do note that most cards offer the Global Entry credit once every five years. This works well if someone has multiple cards which offer the Global Entry credit. Sharing is caring.

Schedule an Interview

Upon receiving an email that your status has changed, log in and you’ll see two of the most beautiful words in the world – Conditionally Approved

Schedule the interview online and don’t be surprised if there are no appointments available for several months.

There are two options for your interview. One is by scheduling an interview. The other is to have the interview as you pass through immigration upon returning from an international trip, known as Enrollment on Arrival (EoA).

Upon arriving from an international flight, one of the CBP officers at the Global Entry area will conduct the interview and you’ll be on your way in 5-10 minutes. It is not necessary to schedule an interview online prior to this, but we do recommend you do so. Whether you have an interview scheduled or not will not hinder you in doing EoA. Do note that most airports have specific times when EoA is available, so compare that to your flight’s arrival time to see if it will work. Some airports also have specific instructions:

Source: CBP

When choosing to schedule an interview, we’ve seen a fair number of reports which indicate regularly checking appointment availability online has resulted in applicants snagging an earlier date. You can reschedule your appointment as many times as you like, so keep checking. This is also one of the four tips recommended by Caroline Lupini in addition to a snazzy app which can track openings for you

The Much Anticipated Interview

You’ll need to bring your valid passport and another form of government issued ID, such as a driver’s license. If you are a permanent resident, bring that card as well. The instructions also say to bring a printout of the letter stating you are conditionally approved as well as proof of residence, such as a utility bill. 

All aboard the FABRIC-COVERED (!) plane. YOU get a window seat, and YOU get a window seat, and…

The interview will likely not take more than 5 to 10 minutes. If approved, you should receive an email within a couple days that your application status has been updated. This time when you log in it will say Approved.

Important – If your status has not changed to Approved within a couple days following the interview, call Global Entry office to politely inquire about the update. Once they update it, the card will be mailed. 

When your card with your beautiful picture on it arrives in the mail, be sure to activate it, and then you’re free to move about the cabin. 

While they say you don’t need the physical card when entering the U.S. via air travel, we’ve heard reports now and again of machines being down or malfunctioning, in which case it often helps if you have the physical card. So we say shove that precious card into your carry-on just in case. 

Go Forth and be Merrily Expedited through Immigration

And that, our friends, is that. We’re very much looking forward to breezing through immigration and reducing the risk of missing connecting flights. Not to mention using TSA PreCheck as well.

Remember to update your information if anything changes, such as a new passport, and apply for renewal when that rolls around. You can apply for renewal up to one year before your membership expires. There are currently also big delays for renewals, so it can’t hurt to renew as early as possible, even though at the time of writing there’s a one year extension so long as you’ve applied for renewal by the original expiration date.

If you have a problem with Global Entry after your interview and the interviewing office cannot help you, here is the CBP contact info

Tell us in the comments how your experience has been with Global Entry.

Cheers and travel on.

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