The Global Entry Pass: A Quicker Way to Travel
Save time at US Customs with the Global Entry Pass
Apply for this speedy membership, it takes time but it is worth it!
By Stephanie DiCarlo
A few years ago I returned to the United States from my first trip to Europe. I touched down in Philadelphia after a ten-hour flight, in desire of only sleep and a change of clothes. What I got was an insanely long line to customs, waiting among a mass of Americans similarly jetlagged, and only wanting to get home.
So when I read about Global Entry, a program that allows for speedy re-entrance into the United States for pre-approved and low-risk travelers, I immediatly felt the appeal of this time-saving deal.
How simple is Global Entry? According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection offical website, people with the program simply "proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit."
Global Entry is as simple as visiting a kiosk! No massive lines, no process of questioning, just a quick show of documents, declaration of goods, and identity verification. But getting to the point of being able to actually USE the kiosks is a classic bureaucratic maze...
GoNOMAD Editor Max Hartshorne has already tried and been turned down when he tried to get a walk-in appointment at Newark Airport.
You have to make an appointment and it's not available at every US airport, so perhaps it's best to try to time the interview on the day you're departing on a trip.
It might seem strange that a process such as this is available this day and age, when airport security is tighter than ever, so it comes as no surprise that qualifying for Global Entry requires a "rigorous background check and interview" process. However, if you travel in and out of the United States frequently, it is may be more than worth it.
Who is Eligible for Global Entry? All United States citizens are eligible, as well as lawful permanent residents, Mexican nationals, Dutch, Panamanian, Singaporean, Columbian, German, Argentinean, United Kingdom, and South Korean citizens. Canadian citizens are also eligible for Global Entry benefits if they are members of the NEXUS program, which is expedited border clearance through the United States and Canadian borders.
If you meet any of these requirements and can prove that you are an honest person (no fraud, no criminal record) of low-risk - you're in!
Costs and Application
To apply for the Global Entry program you must pay an non-refundable application fee of $100. To apply, all you have to do is complete an online application, and if you get approved through the online application, you will then get an interview with a U.S. Customs officer.
While the Global Entry program will get you through customs quicker, aquiring an interview can take weeks. Tens of thousands of applications are sent in each month, which can extend the line for interviews exponentially. Still, all you have to do is wait- you will skip those lines eventuallly.
The most obvious benefit is time- you will save a lot of time you would otherwise spend waiting in line at customs by using Global Entry. You also are saved the hastle of filling out paperwork, as well as questioning.
Another great benefit of the Global Entry program is that you are given access to expedited entry benefits in other countries as well. Global Entry may not only save you time entering the United States - but also countries you travel to abroad.
Some of these counties include Mexico, Japan, Australa and New Zealand, however there are plenty more. Japan, Australia, and New Zealand all have similar programs to Global Entry, which allows for members of Global Entry to more easily access these countries benefit programs.
Your Global Entry membership can also be used as a secondary form of ID. It works as an identification document at places such as federal courts and even the DMV. It is, of course, proof of your citizenship, as well as proof of low-risk citizenship.
If you're a frequent traveler, your Global Entry membership will save you a lot of time and trouble, and will benefit you in more countries than just the United States.
Your membership in the Global Entry program is valid for five years, it's simple to aquire and simple to use. When your membership expires, you can renew it by filling out an application form and scheduling another interview. For the frequent traveler, the Global Entry Program is definitely something to consider.
More information on the Global Entry Program.
Stephanie DiCarlo is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has a Bachelor's degree in English and History, as well as a specialization in creative writing. She also writes for the young adult literature magazine Ultimate YA and she likes to travel and eat good food. You can follow her on Twitter at @ccioSteph
Read about the TSA Precheck, a similar way to speed things up for domestic travel in the US.
Max Hartshorne has been the editor and publisher of GoNOMAD Travel in South Deerfield Mass since 2002. He worked for newspapers and other sales positions for 23 years until he finally got what he wanted, and became the editor at GoNOMAD. He travels regularly, enjoys publishing new writers, and watching his grandchildren grow up.