We’ve all been there before… those anxious moments in an extremely long security line at the airport – before heading to a destination wedding, honeymoon, family trip to a beach resort or solo outdoor getaway – when you’re trying to calculate if you’ll have time to grab a bite to eat and make a mad dash to the bathroom before your plane boards in an hour. Yes, TSA PreCheck will help you dodge this slow-moving bullet. Why? Because this program allows its members (U.S. domestic travelers) to proceed to the clearly marked “TSA PreCheck” lines where they don’t need to remove their shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets.
But if you’re an international traveler… how do you navigate your way around those long lines at customs checkpoints when returning to the U.S. from a trip abroad? Well, you can shorten your wait time and reduce travel stress with Global Entry – a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. And guess what? This program also includes the extra-added benefit of TSA PreCheck, too! All major reasons why Vacation is giving you the 4-1-1 about Global Entry so you can travel with ease.
What are the Benefits of Global Entry?
At international airports, program members dodge the long lines at U.S. Customs & Immigration checkpoints by proceeding 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 you to baggage claim and the exit. And Voilà! You’re done!
The perks of the Global Entry program include:
• Avoid lines at border control checkpoints
• Answer a few questions at a kiosk, scan your fingerprints, show your receipt and exit the passport control area
• Includes TSA Pre-Check to speed up the security process (no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids)
• Saved the best for last: Global Entry might be open at times when Customs & Immigration is closed
Who’s Eligible for Global Entry?
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the following are eligible to apply:
• U.S. citizens
• U.S. lawful permanent residents
• Citizens of United Kingdom
• Citizens of Germany
• Citizens of Netherlands
• Citizens of the Netherlands
• Citizens of Panama
• Citizens of South Korea
• Mexican nationals
How Do You Apply for Global Entry?
The process is long due to wait times for an interview, which could be 3 to 6 months after the date of application. Overall, it’s very easy:
1. Register on the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) and complete your online application. You will pay a $100 non-refundable fee at the time of application. TSA PreCheck is $85 and does not include the customs features.
2. Complete your in-person interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at an enrollment center. Interviews take no more than 20 minutes and you must bring a printed copy of the conditional approval you receive via email.
3. An approved Global Entry is valid for five years, then you will follow the same application process to reapply.
What Should You Know About the Interview Process?
The interview will include a quick photo, digital finger prints and then a conversation with an agent, who will verify your info and ask some basic questions such as:
• Are you a U.S. resident?
• Do you have a second passport or claim to citizenship in another country?
• Have you ever been arrested?
• Have you ever broken customs or immigration laws?
• Have you ever transported something where the contents were unknown?
And don’t forget to bring:
• A copy of the conditional approval notification received via email
• A document to establish residence (such as driver’s license, utility bill, rental or mortgage statement)
At the end of the interview, if you are approved, you will be provided with your new Trusted Traveler ID. Enter this on all your new reservations and update old ones (there is a field just like the one for your Frequent Flyer number). At this point, all your boarding passes will include a note for TSA Pre-Check when available and Global Entry. And your time in airport security lines just got shorter!