What to Know About Global Entry Before Your Next Trip

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Global Entry can save you a ton of time at the airport. If you are in a rush to catch a flight, or you simply don’t enjoy arriving early at an airport, Global Entry membership can make your travel experience much easier.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) regulated and administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), open to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of other participating countries. The goal of the program is to verify travelers' identities and enroll them in expedited security screening. This prevents security lines from becoming overwhelmingly long, leading to a better travel experience for regular travelers.

In addition to the U.S., Global Entry has several countries that participate in the program, including:

  • Argentina
  • India
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Mexico (nationals)

More than 5 million people are enrolled in Global Entry, and as more enrollment centers open the program will likely continue to grow in popularity.

Benefits of Global Entry

There are several benefits of Global Entry, with the largest one being saving time at airport security screenings. No one enjoys standing in long TSA lines, and having Global Entry can help you avoid that.

In addition, here are a few more benefits of having Global Entry membership:

  • It includes TSA Precheck™ membership.
  • You don’t need to remove several items from your carry-on bag, including shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets when going through airport security.
  • No paperwork needed upon arrival.
  • No processing lines.
  • Ability to clear customs before arriving in the United States (where applicable).

Differences between Global Entry, CLEAR and TSA Precheck™

Global Entry, CLEAR and TSA Precheck™ offer a very similar service – expedited security clearance. However, each program offers different benefits, access and price points. Here are the benefits of each program, along with their costs for enrollment.

BenefitsPrice point
TSA Precheck™Expedited security clearance at American airports.

No need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets during security scan.

$85/5 years
Global EntryExpedited security clearance at American airports.

Citizens of other countries that have trusted traveler arrangements may enroll in the program.

Includes TSA Precheck™ membership and benefits.

You will receive a Global Entry identification card.

In participating countries, you can clear customs at your departure airport.

$100/5 years
CLEARExpedited security clearance at American airports and venues

Touchless entry using biometrics

Can be less crowded that TSA Precheck™ or Global Entry

$179/year

With each program, there are simple ways to drop the cost. For TSA Precheck™, you can sign up for a travel credit card, like the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, that will waive the cost of enrollment. For CLEAR, you can lower the enrollment fee by using their partnerships with Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Hertz or a student discount.

How to apply for Global Entry

Applying for Global Entry can seem like a daunting process, especially the first time around. Before you begin the application, get familiar with the steps of the process:

  • Create a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account.
  • Log in to your TTP account and complete the Global Entry application. A $100 nonrefundable fee is needed to process the application. If you have a credit card with free Global Entry, be sure to input that card info here to qualify for your fee waiver.
  • From here, the Customs and Border Patrol will review your application. If you are conditionally approved, your account will prompt you to schedule an in-person interview. The interview will take place at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. For your in-person interview, you must bring your passport and one other form of ID.

If you are approved, you can use your Global Entry membership immediately. You will receive your physical Global Entry card in the mail within 10 business days. However, all you need is your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to begin using your membership.

The interview

During the Global Entry interview, you will be asked a few boilerplate questions, such as:

  • Why do you want to get Global Entry?
  • Who do you work for?
  • What is your profession?
  • Do you have a criminal record?

After the questions, a photograph of you will be taken for your ID, so prepare to arrive camera-ready for your interview.

The interview should last no longer than 15 minutes. However, be prepared that the interview may last longer than that.

Global Entry interview locations

There are locations in nearly every state, select U.S. territories, Canada and Qatar. However, some locations are busier than others. If you live near a busy enrollment center, it may be beneficial to complete your in-person interview while away from home.

Here’s a full list of Global Entry Enrollment Centers.

Enrollment on arrival

The Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival program is a great way to enroll in the program and immediately utilize the benefits of Global Entry.

If you are conditionally approved for Global Entry, you can complete your interview as you are returning back to the United States. This eliminates the need to schedule an interview. All you need to do is follow the signs at an international terminal directing you to CBP officers.

You will need a passport and documents providing evidence of residency including a driver’s license, utility bill or mortgage statement. If you are under 18, this is not necessary.

Not all Global Entry terminals have the Enrollment on Arrival program. If you plan on traveling internationally and want to complete your interview when you return to the United States, here’s a list of airports that qualify.

How to check your Global Entry application status

You can check your application by logging into your TTP account. From there, you will be able to see on your dashboard where you are in the application process.

How to renew Global Entry

Global Entry lasts five years, so you will need to update it every fourth year of membership. If your membership has less than 365 days until expiration, you can renew on your Global Entry dashboard.

Program Memberships
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How to get Global Entry for free

While Global Entry is a modest $100 for five years of membership, there are several travel credit cards that eliminate the membership fee entirely.

Global Entry credit cards

CardSign-up bonusAnnual feeGlobal Entry waiver amount
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.$550$100
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.$550$100
United℠ Explorer CardEarn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.$0 Intro for First Year, then $95$100
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.$450$100
United Club℠ Infinite CardEarn 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.$0 for the first year, then $525$100

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

How to use Global Entry

Using Global Entry is a very seamless process. Once you have gone through the application and approval process, all you will need is your Known Traveler Number. This is commonly referred to as “KTN”.

To make your Global Entry experience, it is best practice to add your KTN to all of your frequent flyer programs. Once you do this, your ticket will prepopulate with your TSA Precheck™/Global Entry membership, and you can breeze through airport security. If you don’t do this, you will need to manually add your KTN to each flight you purchase, or manually add it at the airport with an airline representative.

After this, your membership is ready to go. Your boarding passes will say TSA Precheck™/Global Entry on it. When you approach security, show the attendant your boarding pass, and you will be on your way.

The information related to IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

FAQs about Global Entry

How long does Global Entry last?

Global Entry membership lasts five calendar years.

How much is Global Entry?

Global Entry is $100 for a five year membership.

How do you renew Global Entry?

You can renew Global Entry by logging into your Trusted Traveler Program profile, and begin the application process there.

Does Global Entry include TSA Precheck™?

Yes, it does.

How long does it take to get Global Entry?

The entire application process depends on how soon you are able to get an appointment at an Enrollment Center.

What do I need to bring to my Global Entry interview?

You need to bring your passport, one other valid ID and additional proof such as bills to verify your residency.

Is Global Entry worth it?

Regardless of how often you travel, Global Entry is worth it because of the potential long lines of regular security screenings.

Brett Holzhauer

Brett Holzhauer is ValuePenguin’s travel rewards expert, focusing on credit card rewards maximization, consumer travel trends, and personal finance news. He has earned and burned over 5 million points and miles throughout his travels, saving him roughly $75,000 in travel expenses.

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