I always feel some level of guilt (and relief) each time I return to Boston after any international travel. The line to get through customs is always long and takes at least an hour to get through. Everyone looks exhausted from travel and eager to get home.
Meanwhile, I walk right past the entire line to the Global Entry kiosks at the end of the hallway, scan my passport, and leave the airport in 5 minutes.
I feel guilty because it's just so easy and I wonder why more people don't get Global Entry. Perhaps they don't know about Global Entry's benefits.
Since you're reading this, I assume you want to skip that huge customs line and get out of the airport ASAP.
This guide will walk you through how to apply for Global Entry.
Documents you'll need to apply for global entry
Before you start the application, you'll want the following documents handy:
- Valid passport
- Evidence of residency (e.g., utility bill or lease agreement)
- Driver's license or state-issued ID card
- Vehicles' registration information if driving across borders frequently
You'll also need to bring these documents to your Global Entry interview appointment. We'll get to that later.
Then, follow the steps below to create your account. Enter your email, select your language, agree to the terms and then follow the remaining steps to set up your password. You may also be asked to set up Two-Factor Authentication where you have the option to receive a code via SMS that you can enter or use the biometric sensor on your device (fingerprint sensor or face ID).
Create a Trusted Traveler Programs account
Head over to the Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) website and create an account.
This will give you access to various trusted traveler programs, including Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST.
Select Global Entry and you'll be asked to create an account.
Once your account is created and you have logged in, you will be on the Dashboard page. This is where you will start your application for Global Entry, monitor the status of your application, and eventually book your interview as the final step for the Global Entry enrollment process. If you already have an application in progress, it will appear here.
2. Start your online application
To start your application, click Apply For A Trusted Traveler Program (see the bottom left of the image below).
Next, you will be asked a few questions to determine your eligibility for Global Entry. Global Entry is available for US citizens and permanent residents.
If you are a US citizen, answer Yes to the question Are you a citizen of the United States? If you are not, follow the steps to determine if you are eligible for Global Entry.
Next, select Global Entry as the program you're applying for. If you are a frequent traveler between Canada and the United States you may consider the NEXUS program which enables expedited travel just between these two countries. The SENTRI program is another option for travel between Mexico and United States specifically.
Make sure you answer the Do you plan on flying internationally into the U.S. within the next 6 months? question and then click Next in the bottom right corner to move to the next step.
At the time of writing, the Global Entry enrollment has a $100 fee (for 5 years), requires a background check, and an in-person interview.
Now to the heart of the online application. There are 9 steps that each ask for various pieces of personal information.
Complete the application form with your personal details, such as name, address history, employment history (if applicable), driver's license number or state ID card number (if issued), vehicle registration details (if you frequently drive across borders), valid email address, recent digital photograph and a list of countries visited within the past ten years including the purpose of each visit.
Make sure to triple-check all the information you provide. The approval process already takes a few months and any inaccuracies will result in a postponed or refused application.
Global Entry cost
There's a $100 non-refundable fee just for applying for Global Entry. Even more reason to make sure the application is accurate so you don't get refused and have to re-apply.
This payment covers processing costs associated with reviewing applications and conducting background checks on applicants.
Some credit cards offer credits that cover the Global Entry application fee as part of their travel rewards programs, so make sure to check your card benefits before applying.
Examples of credit cards that offer this benefit are the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and American Express Platinum Card. These cards also offer many other travel-related perks, such as airport lounge access.
Scheduling Your Interview
If your application is approved, you'll need to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.
If you're renewing your Global Entry membership, you may be eligible for a remote interview to save yourself the travel time.
Finding a Nearby Enrollment Center
To find an enrollment center near you, visit the Trusted Traveler Programs website and search for locations by state or zip code. Make sure to choose a location that offers Global Entry interviews, as some centers only handle other Trusted Traveler programs like NEXUS or SENTRI.
Walk-in Interviews vs Scheduled Appointments
Scheduled Appointments: Once you've found an enrollment center, log in to your Trusted Traveler Programs account and select "Schedule Appointment." Choose from available dates and times based on availability at your chosen location. Due to the popularity of Trusted Traveler Programs, there may be limited slots available for appointments.
Walk-in Interviews: If you can't find an available appointment slot or need a last-minute option, you can try your hand at a walk-in interview. While not guaranteed, some travelers have had success with this approach. Arrive early during operating hours and ask if there are openings available for Global Entry interviews.
Enroll on Arrival: Another option is to complete your interview upon arrival at one of the airports outside the US that offer Enroll on Arrival. This option allows you to complete your interview at one of the Global Entry kiosks when returning from an international trip.
Getting Your Known Traveler Number (KTN)
Once you've completed your Global Entry interview and received approval, you'll get a nine-digit Known Traveler Number (KTN), also known as PASSID. This number lets you use automated kiosks when arriving in the US, making your travel experience smoother. Make sure to add your KTN to existing flight reservations and airline loyalty program profiles.
Start using your Global Entry benefits
Add your KTN/PASSID to any existing flight reservations and loyalty programs so you can go through the TSA Precheck line and skip the customs line.
If you have a flight coming up soon and can't edit your flight reservation, you'll need to contact the airline customer service line at least 72 hours before departure so they can update your information on file.
Renewing your Global Entry membership
Your Global Entry membership is valid for five years from the date of approval. When it's time to renew, log into your Trusted Traveler Programs account, to submit a renewal application along with a non-refundable fee of $100.
If it's been a while since your last interview, you may be required to book another appointment. You'll receive an email notification if that's the case.
It took about a week after filling out the renewal application for me to get notified of whether I needed another interview (I didn't!).
Frequently asked questions about Global Entry
Is Global Entry worth it?
Yes, if you travel internationally often, Global Entry is worth it for faster customs and immigration, TSA PreCheck, and extra travel perks.
Is it difficult to get approved for Global Entry?
Getting approved for Global Entry is easy for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or eligible foreign nationals with a clean record.
How can I get help with my Global Entry application?
If you need assistance with your Global Entry application, contact the CBP's Trusted Traveler Programs support center by phone or online form.
What do I need to apply for Global Entry?
To apply for Global Entry, you'll need personal information, passport details, and citizenship documentation or a permanent resident card.
Ready to get global entry?
Streamline your airport experience and avoid long lines at customs by applying for Global Entry, a straightforward process that can save you time and hassle when traveling internationally.
To apply, create a Trusted Traveler Programs account, fill out the application form with personal information, provide required documents, pay the non-refundable $100 fee, schedule an interview at a nearby enrollment center or through walk-in appointments, and receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN).
If you're a frequent international traveler, it's worth considering applying for Global Entry to make your travels smoother.
Apply for Global Entry today to leave the airport and get home ASAP after a long international flight.