What is Global Entry?

customs and immigration sign at Boston Logan airport
See the special line for Global Entry members when arriving from an international destination at Boston Logan International airport.

If you have flown into the United States recently you may have noticed a special line during immigration for Global Entry.

Air travel is notorious for giving special treatment to those who are willing to pay a bit extra and Global Entry is what you need to skip the regular customs and immigration line. Instead you use a special expedited line only for Global Entry members. For $100 you can join the program for 5 years.

Global Entry is one of the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Programs. These programs also include TSA PreCheck (included with Global Entry) which gives you access to a a dedicated TSA PreCheck airport security line. You can read out full comparison of Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck.

How can you join the program?

The process begins on the official Trusted Traveler Program website of the Department of Homeland Security. You create an account, enter all the required personal information, make your payment, and wait to be conditionally approved.

Personal Information

You will need to upload personal documents (drivers license, passports) and fill out several forms about things such as vehicle information, past travel history, work history and more which is used to conduct a background check.


The cost at the time of writing this article is $100 for a 5 year membership. If you recently got a new credit card or are planning on applying for a new travel credit card in the near future keep an eye out for free Global Entry application perks because many travel credit cards include this now. Check out this article from The Points Guy which breaks down which credit cards include a free Global Entry application.

Conditional Approval

Once you have supplied your personal information and made your payment, it's time to wait to be conditionally approved.

It's impossible to know exactly how long this will take, It took me only a couple days to be conditionally approved but we have heard horror stories of this process taking months with very little transparency. Until you are conditionally approved you cannot proceed to the final step: the in-person interview.


After you are conditionally approved, the final step in your enrollment is to complete an in-person interview.

Although it seems like you are nearly finished, the interview scheduling is notoriously the most time consuming and frustrating step in this process.

To schedule your interview, you have to return to the official Trusted Traveler Program website. Once you are logged in and conditionally approved, you will now have an option to schedule your interview. Scroll down to the enrollment center where you would like to have your interview (usually the airport closest to you) you may find that there are "no appointments available" or the earliest appointment is months (or over a year!) away.

There are some ways to expedite this process though. Check out our full guide on how to get an interview faster for a detailed overview.

In a nutshell, your options are to keep refreshing the official scheduling page and wait for cancellations/new appointment slots or to use an alerting app such as AppointmentScanner.com which will send you text messages, emails, or web browser notifications when an appointment becomes available at the enrollment centers (up to 3) you select so you can go and book the appointment before someone else takes it.

We may be a little biased, but we think AppointmentScanner.com is the single best way to get Global Entry in 2022. Rather than sitting on your computer, constantly refreshing the scheduling page, hoping for an opening, let the robots do the work. Just sit back and wait for an alert, then hop on the Trusted Traveler Program site and claim the interview slot.

Pros and Cons of Global Entry


  • Much faster customs and immigration process when entering the United States from an international destination. Use automated kiosks at nearly every international airport in the US instead of the regular customs and immigration line.
  • Includes TSA PreCheck which allows you to use an expedited line at airport security at 200+ airports in the United States. No more taking off your shoes, belt, jacket or removing electronics and small liquids from your bag. If you hate taking off your shoes at the airport then this is a game changer for you! You can also bring children 12 and under with you through the TSA PreCheck line
  • Although the process involves many steps, it can also be relatively quick with a few tricks. Once you apply for conditional approval online using the official Trusted Traveler Program website, most people receive a response within a few days. The final step, doing your in-person interview an an official enrollment center, can take much longer since many centers are booked for months. But if you use an alerting service like AppointmentScanner.com you will receive SMS, email, or web browser alerts whenever an interview at your enrollment center is available for you to book within the time frame you selected. This means that you don't have to try all day to get an appointment, you can instead just sign up for alerts and let Appointment Scanner alert you when an interview is available.


  • All children are required to have their own membership. This means that they also need to do a Global Entry interview at an enrollment center and it can be difficult to book back-to-back appointments. At busy centers you would likely need appointments months in the future if you are hoping for back-to-back appointments which means that you may need to travel to the interview enrollment center multiple times. An alternative would be to use Enrollment on Arrival. If you are traveling through certain airports you may be able to do your interview when you arrive at the airport from your international destination. (Although the line for Enrollment on Arrival is often several hours long–not ideal at the end of a long trip, when all you want to do is get home.)
  • If you are traveling with someone that doesn't have Global Entry they cannot join you.
  • The membership costs $100 for 5 years which will increase the required budget for your travels.

Having trouble finding Global Entry interview appointments?AppointmentScanner.com can help you cut months off the wait time for an interview, with alerts for last minute interviews when others cancel at your preferred enrollment centers.
Derek Feehrer

Derek Feehrer

Boston, MA