Time is the ultimate luxury.
As a frequent traveler, Global Entry is one of my greatest allies, especially during peak travel times. I usually hate to fly the Wednesday before Thanksgiving because it’s pure madness wherever you look — mile-long security lines, overbooked flights, weather delays, lost baggage, frustrated passengers, you name it. But this year, I had no other choice but to fly that dreaded early Wednesday morning flight from Seattle to New York City. I’ll tell you — I take great pride in the fact that I’ve never missed a flight on my own fault, but if I didn’t have Global Entry/TSA Pre✓™, I would have absolutely missed my flight this morning. Expectedly, the normal security line snaked around the corridor in what seemed like an infinity loop with no end in sight.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and an in-person interview before enrollment. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports. A list of current airports with Global Entry kiosks is here.
Currently, the program costs $100 for five years, with easy renewal. However, many credit cards offer statement credit/fee refunds as one of their many perks — look out for the AMEX Platinum, Business Platinum, Centurion, Citi Prestige, and a few others, I believe. Also, if you’re a Delta Diamond Medallion or a Delta Platinum Medallion member, you can select Global Entry as one of your Choice Benefits – one of the many reasons I love being a Delta Medallion member.
Global Entry is currently open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents; and citizens of the UK (through its home Registered Traveller program), Mexico, Germany, Canada (through its home NEXUS program), the Netherlands, Panama, and South Korea. Many countries may have additional steps or measures in place for Global Entry, so check the CBP website for the latest information.
I’ve had a few readers ask if Global Entry/TSA Pre✓™ is really worth it, and today’s airport experience reaffirmed it with a resounding YES! I’ll give you THREE reasons why you need Global Entry in your life.
Your Global Entry card counts as valid identification at the airport checkpoint for travel. Many states in the U.S. are slowly phasing out the driver’s license as an acceptable form of identification, as many don’t meet federal regulations, so it’s handy to have another form of federal ID in addition to your passport. Check the TSA website for all other IDs that are acceptable.
You can bypass the regular security and U.S. customs lines. This is probably the most obvious reason to get Global Entry. You don’t have to wait in the customs line when you enter back into the U.S. — you can clear customs at a kiosk and you’ll be done in a few minutes. In addition, as a Global Entry member, you’re likely to also be eligible for domestic TSA Pre✓™, which means you’re privy to expedited security clearance at the airport — no taking shoes off, no taking laptop out of its cover, etc. So even if you travel internationally only once or twice a year, I’d recommend paying the extra money (the price difference between TSA Pre✓™ and Global Entry is $15) for the Global Entry program. NOTE: Global Entry does not give you automatic access to TSA Pre✓™, but it’s pretty likely.
Extend your expedited customs clearance benefits abroad. Your inclusion in the Global Entry affords you the opportunity to enjoy the expedited customs benefits in select airports abroad in New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, most Canadian airports, and U.S. territories. Though additional fees and steps may be required, U.S. Citizens in the Global Entry program may also apply for the Dutch Privium program, the UK Registered Traveller program, the South Korean Smart Entry Service (SES), and the Mexican Viajero Confiable program, as they share reciprocal partnerships with Global Entry.