What Is the “Global Entry” Trusted Traveler Program?

Air travel can be a big headache — long waiting lines, security checks, crowds, delays, etc. The same can be felt with ten times more intensity during international travel.

But not everything about air travel needs to be that cast down — especially for people who pose no security risk.

The United States Government — that is, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recognizes this logical argument and have introduced a set of Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP), each having their advantages and benefits. Possibly, one of the most commonly known programs might be TSA Pre. The main purpose of these programs, in the words of their official website is, “Our programs allow members to use expedited lanes at the U.S. airports, and when crossing international borders.”

So, What Is Global Entry?

Out of the five TTPs that consists of TSA Pre, Global Entry is one of them.

Chiefly designated as a program that only applies when entering the United States from other countries, Global Entry gives international travelers the flexibility to finish & complete their immigration and other declarations via automated Global Entry kiosks.

At the kiosks, travelers can present their passport and or valid identification, get their fingerprints scanned, fill out their customs declaration, and finally, collect a receipt to directly go to baggage claim and or exit.

The kiosks separate Global Entry members from regular members because it is much-much faster to get everything done.

As of writing this post, in total, there are 74 airports with Global Entry kiosks — with the majority of them located inside the U.S.

Who Are Eligible To Apply for Global Entry?

Anyone who is a U.S. Citizen or a lawful permanent resident is eligible to participate in the Global Entry program. Additionally, people of the following eleven countries are qualified too — depending on their own set of requirements:

  1. Argentina
  2. India
  3. Colombia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Germany
  6. Panama
  7. Singapore
  8. South Korea
  9. Switzerland
  10. Taiwan
  11. Mexican Nationals

Outside of these, Canadian Citizens can apply via the NEXUS program, another Trusted Traveler Program in itself.

As far as age goes, anyone under 18 will need their parents’ or legal guardian’s approval to apply for Global Entry.

who can apply for global entry - global entry eligibility
Who can apply for Global Entry? Image source: CBP site.

How To Apply for Global Entry and How Much Does It Cost?

To apply for Global Entry, head over to the official site, and then under the section for “Choose a Program to Get Started,” find the Global Entry card (it’s the second one), and click on its Get Started button.

getting started to apply for global entry
Getting Started with the Global Entry application. Image source: Official TTP site.

Once the application is filled out and submitted, you’ll have to wait a little. However, as soon as the government has been able to review your candidacy, they will conditionally approve you for Global Entry. The next step would be an in-person interview at one of their centers. (In most cases, a famous airport near you will have one).

It is said that Global Entry applications go through a rigorous and thorough background check, so always be 100% truthful in your forms. (Not that you should lie anyway). Also, please note that the membership is valid for five years. Howbeit, a year before its expiration, you can get it renewed for another five years.

If your renewal does not pass in time, that is, you’ve applied already, but your Global Entry Expired, the government says you will be permitted to use the expired Global Entry for up to six months. Do pay attention to the fact that your application must have been submitted. That’s the key.

Cost: Every new Global Entry Application, as well as every renewal, costs $100. Both can be easily accomplished online.

How To Use Global Entry — Once Approved

Remember that getting approved for Global Entry is one event and actually using it is different.

The number one thing to ensure — in order to use Global Entry for air travel is that while booking your flight online, you are adding in your unique Global Entry number. Typically, airlines or third-party websites will have a separate field to insert the Global Entry number. In most cases, that field goes by the name of “Known Traveler Number.”

Every booking will require you to add your Global Entry numerals. Otherwise, you may not be able to use it. And sure, you could talk to someone at the airport before the security check for these kinds of situations, but it may end up being a hassle.

Alternatively, you can make a profile for yourself. The advantage is that you add all the details once — including that of Global Entry, and thereafter, every booking can continue to use the info from that profile. Regardless of your approach, you have to make certain that you do not leave the Known Traveler Number field empty or skip it.

As an example, when a profile is created in United Airlines, it can at the minimum, extract the following details — that encompasses Global Entry:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Middle name / initial
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Suffix
  • Frequent flyer program number
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Known Traveler Number / PASS ID (a.k.a. the global entry number)
  • Redress number (not to worry about it, if you do not know what it is)
How to use global entry - an example from United Airlines Profile
How to use Global Entry: an example from United Airlines Profile.

The Primary Differences Between Global Entry and TSA Pre

Many have wondered about the idea of Global Entry and TSA Pre. Or, in other words, how they differ from each other fundamentally.

Essentially, the dominant dissimilarities between the two are:

  1. TSA Pre can only be used for domestic air travel. While on the other hand, the best use case for Global Entry is for international travel. However, a huge added convenience of Global Entry is that it includes TSA Pre — so technically, you don’t have to always be traveling internationally to use Global Entry. It can be utilized for domestic air travels also, by itself.
  2. The Application fee for TSA Pre is $85 for new enrollments. In contrast, it is $100 for Global Entry.
  3. Travel Type: TSA Pre can only be invoked for air travel. In comparison, Global Entry can be exercised for travel by air, land, and sea.

When someone asks me which one they should get, I always advocate for Global Entry because, with only $15 more, one can get everything that TSA Pre provides, plus a lot more.

The Advantages of Having Global Entry

Now that we’ve had a crash course in what this program is about, below is a concise overview of the benefits of being a Global Entry member:

  1. Zero paperwork.
  2. Less wait & processing times.
  3. It can be used for international + domestic travel.
  4. Additionally, it can also be invoked for travel by land and sea.
  5. Includes TSA Pre if approved.
  6. Global Entry Kiosks are located at most of the prominent U.S. Airports and then some at other international ones. For a complete list, check out this link from CBP.
  7. Above all, enjoying a pre-screened status with the authorities and proving you’re less of a threat — leading to an overall hassle-free travel experience.

You May Also Want to Check Out:

Do You Have Global Entry?

In my mind, getting Global Entry is a no-brainer. Anyone who is allowed should try to have one. Believe me, once you get a taste of how beneficial it becomes, you will not be able to live without it.

It is such a clever invention that helps both travelers and government agents to constantly assess threats and keep an eye on things for our safety.

Expert sources:

  1. CBP website that lists out Global Entry Airport kiosks.
  2. The official Trusted Traveler Program website.
  3. CBP link that discusses Global Entry eligibility.