We both have Global Entry and love it. Global Entry has shortened our time at US passport control and has also made us eligible for TSA PreCheck.  We would recommend Global Entry for anyone that travels internationally – even a couple of times a year. If you are thinking of applying for Global Entry, read on for our Guide to the Global Entry Application and Interview Process.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry allows travelers to enter the US more quickly.  Instead of waiting in a long line to see a border control agent, you answer a few questions at a kiosk, scan your fingerprints, show your receipt to an agent and exit the passport control area.

Here is the description of the Global Entry program according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website:

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. Members enter the United States through automatic kiosks at select airports.

At airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

Travelers must be pre-approved for the Global Entry program. All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment.

Global Entry Includes TSA Pre-Check

Although TSA Pre-Check is completely different than Global Entry, one of the benefits of obtaining Global Entry is being able to qualify for TSA Pre-Check on domestic and international flights.

If you qualify for TSA Pre-Check on a flight, you are allowed to go through security without removing your shoes, belt, light outerwear, laptop and bag with liquids.  There is often a separate TSA Pre-Check line that is usually faster.  You will know if you are eligible for TSA Pre-Check as it will be printed on your boarding pass near your name.  Please note: TSA Pre✓ is only available when flying on certain airlines – the current list of airlines can be found on the TSA’s website.

There are several ways to get TSA Pre-Check, including through Global Entry. The application fee for TSA Precheck is $85 but for $15 more you can get Global Entry which also includes TSA Pre-Check.  (See also related post TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry: Which Is Best For You?)

Cost of Global Entry

The cost of Global Entry is a $100 non-refundable application fee (the fee is non-refundable even if your application is denied). Global Entry is valid for 5 years from your birthday. After 5 years you will have to reapply and pay another $100 application fee.

Tip: There are a couple of ways to get Global Entry for FREE – see related postHow to Get TSA PreCheck or Global Entry For Free.

Global Entry Eligibility Requirements

Before you apply for Global Entry make sure you are eligible because the application fee is non refundable.

U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of a few other countries (citizens of Argentina, United Kingdom, Colombia, Germany, India, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and Mexican nationals) are eligible for Global Entry membership. Canadian citizens and residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through membership in the NEXUS program.

There are several reasons you may not be eligible for participation in the Global Entry program including if you have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants (to include driving under the influence) or have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country.

Here is a link to the current Global Entry eligibility requirements.

Global Entry Application Process

There are 2 steps to the Global Entry application process:
1) Complete an application online, and
2) Complete an in person interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at an enrollment center

In order to apply for Global Entry, the first step is to create a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account at https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/ and complete an application online.  (The Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) website replaced the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) on October 1, 2017 so if you see references to GOES it refers to the older version of the website.)

You will have to pay the $100 Global Entry application fee at this time.

Global Entry Application Questions

Following is the list of questions asked in the online application for Global Entry:

  • Personal information (name, email address, gender, eye color, height, language preference)
  • Other names used
  • Date and place of birth
  • Contact information (home, mobile and work phone number)
  • Citizenship information (passport number, date of issue and expiration date)
  • Driver’s license (number and expiration date)
  • Current address
  • Address history (other addresses in past five years)
  • Current employment status (employer name, employment period, occupation, street address of employer and phone)
  • Employment history  (other employers in past five years)
  • Travel history (list any countries other than the US, Canada and Mexico traveled to within the past 5 years)
  • Additional information:
    Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offense in the United States or any other country?
    Have you ever received a waiver of inadmissibility to the U.S. from a U.S. government agency?
    Have you ever been found in violation of customs laws?
    Have you ever been found in violation of immigration laws?

Scheduling the Global Entry Interview

Once your application is reviewed and conditionally approved, you will received an email stating there is a message in your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account.  The message instructs you to schedule an interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.  After logging in, we were able to print off a letter with the conditional approval and schedule an appointment for an interview online.

Interviews are available at the various Global Entry enrollment centers.  The enrollment centers used to be located at major airports and borders but there are now a few centers in several cities.  Availability for interviews varies by enrollment center – for example, Chicago O’Hare did not have any appointments for 2 months but if you keep logging in you can frequently find an earlier opening if someone has cancelled.  If you need to change your interview you are able to reschedule interviews online as well.  However according to the website, any changes within 24 hours of the appointment must be done by contacting the enrollment center directly.

On July 7, 2017, CBP announced a new option to schedule your interview faster: Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival which allows conditionally approved Global Entry applicants to complete their interview while clearing CBP processing at select airports.

(See also related post Scheduling Your Global Entry Interview Faster on how to schedule your Global Entry interview quickly even if there are no appointments for months at your closest enrollment center.)

What to Bring to Global Entry Interview

According to the letter, the following documents should be brought to the interview:

  • A copy of the Conditional Approval Notification (which the officer did not ask to see)
  • Passport
  • A document to establish residency (such as driver’s license, utility bill, rental or mortgage statement)

Make sure to bring a face mask. According to the CPB, “[a]ll applicants and visitors at enrollment centers are required to wear face masks.”

Global Entry Interview Process

The enrollment office at Chicago O’Hare was easy to find.  It is located at Terminal 5, Lower Level right next to McDonald’s.  Because it was at arrivals, we did not have to go through security.  Upon entering the door there is a waiting room with a few seats and an officer behind a glass pane.  We presented our passports and were asked to wait.

There were not a lot of seats in the waiting area and it actually became pretty full.  The officers were very laid back about calling people in for the interviews.  They just came out and asked who was next instead of calling people by name.  We were allowed to go in together but took turns getting interviewed by the same officer.

Global Entry Interview Questions

After looking at the documents we were asked to bring along (passport and license) and comparing the information to the application, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer asked us a bunch of questions including the following:

  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • Have you ever transported something where the contents were unknown?
  • Have you ever repudiated American citizenship?
  • Do you have a second passport or claim to citizenship in another country?
  • Have you ever broken customs or immigration laws?
  • Are you a US resident?

After answering his questions, we were approved and he took our photos and finger prints. He advised us that the number in our letter is our known traveler number which we could use immediately to qualify for TSA Pre-Check.  All we needed to do was log into our frequent flyer account and put in the number in the known traveler number box.   He also said we would receive a Global Entry membership card that can be used to enter the US if driving from Canada or Mexico which we received 10 days after our interview.

How Long Does It Take to Get Global Entry?

There is not an exact amount of time it takes to get Global Entry. It varies from person to person and depends on a variety of factors. The timing depends on how long it takes: 1) for CBP to review your application and conditionally approve you AND 2) for you to find an interview appointment after you are conditionally approved.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), processing times for them to review your Global Entry application vary.  The average wait time used to be a few weeks, but in the past year and a half it has been taking CBP much longer to process applications (currently the average processing time is 6 months or longer).  You can shorten the amount of time it takes you to schedule a Global Entry interview but you cannot do anything if it takes long for CBP to review your application.

Our Experience Using Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check

Since receiving Global Entry we have used it several times upon entering the US at Chicago O’Hare and we have breezed through passport control.  We did not have to fill out the customs forms given to us on the plane nor wait in line at passport control.  Instead, we proceeded to a Global Entry kiosk which took our photo and fingerprints.  After answering a few questions at the kiosk, a piece of paper is printed which you take to an officer for review and you are set.

We have also use TSA Pre-Check on a regular basis and it is much easier not have to remove our shoes and jackets. Although we have read online reports of TSA Pre-Check lines sometimes being longer than the regular lines, we found the TSA Pre-Check lines to be shorter.

Is Global Entry Worth It?

Whether the $100 fee and time spent applying for Global Entry is worth it, depends on how often you travel and how much you value the convenience of expedited entry at passport control and expedited security.  We found Global Entry worth the time and expense. The only negative is that you are paying for a convenience that is sometimes given to travelers for free. For example, when we entered the US with someone that did not have Global Entry, he was able to use a kiosk and get through passport control quickly as well. These were different kiosks than the Global Entry kiosks but apparently almost as fast.

Please note that Global Entry benefits are also part of NEXUS and SENTRI, two other trusted traveler programs similar to Global Entry.  For some people, applying for NEXUS or SENTRI in order to get Global Entry and TSA Pre might make more sense than applying for Global Entry. (See related post: How to Get TSA PreCheck: A Guide on How Best to Apply).

Has anyone else applied for Global Entry? Let us know your experience with the Global Entry interview and application process in the comments below.

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Guide to Global Entry: Application and Interview Process - Our personal experience with the Global Entry program including a description of the application process and interview process.

Originally published on Apr 22, 2014 but last updated on September 8, 2020.


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