What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a five-year Trusted Traveler Program membership administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). According to the CBP, the program allows approved passengers to skip the traditional customs process at 53 U.S. airports. Instead, rigorously vetted Global Entry members use a separate line serviced by automated kiosks to process their entry into the U.S.
Additionally, Global Entry comes with a TSA PreCheck membership, so there is no need to apply for both if you intend to apply for Global Entry. Also, Global Entry members do not need to complete a customs declaration form before flight arrivals; members complete this at the self-service kiosk.
However, unlike TSA PreCheck, children, partners, and anyone without a Global Entry membership cannot accompany Global Entry members through the expedited processing lines. Children (under 18) can enroll in Global Entry with parental or legal guardian permission, and CBP does not require their parents or guardians to be registered.
The application process for Global Entry is more stringent than TSA PreCheck. First, you must initiate your application online through the Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) website after creating an account. Once you receive conditional approval by email from the CBP after submitting your application online, you have a couple of options. Walk-ins are available without an interview appointment through the enrollment-on-arrival service only if you land in the U.S. from abroad.
However, just like TSA PreCheck, walk-ins are low priority, so scheduling your interview in advance is better. If conditionally approved, you can schedule your interview at an enrollment center.
Global Entry processing runs a little slower than TSA PreCheck; currently, the TTP says the application processing takes 4-6 months. However, once approved, your status in the dashboard will reflect this, and you can find your PASSID at the top of the dashboard page. Airlines colloquially refer to all TTP IDs (PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST) as Known Traveler Numbers.
If you are a U.S. citizen, U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident, or Mexican national, you will also receive a Global Entry Card 7-10 days after final approval. According to the TTP, foreign nationals approved for the Global Entry program are not eligible for Global Entry Cards. Cards are issued automatically at no additional cost. The global Entry Card allows you to utilize two more Trusted Traveler Programs, SENTRI, and NEXUS, that enable pre-screened travelers to use expedited processing when entering the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Global Entry costs $100 for the five-year membership, which includes your PreCheck, SENTRi, and NEXUS memberships. Just so you know, the fee is non-refundable, even if you are denied. You are eligible for renewal one year before your current Global Entry membership expires, and you can renew online through the dashboard. According to the TTP, a renewal interview may not be required, but you will receive an email if it is.