Global Entry is a godsend for frequent international travelers. This government program can save you hours each and every time your return from foreign travels. The program last for five years, then you need to renew.
Global Entry and the Trusted Traveler Program is managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This program allows you to bypass the sometimes enormously long lines at Customs and Border Patrol at US Border Crossings. You must apply for and be approved for this program and generally, it’s a pretty painless process.
Basically, you complete an online application, including your name, previous addresses, employers and foreign countries you’ve recently visited. DHS reviews your application and if approved, they clear you for an interview. The interview is quick and painless, unless you lied on your application! My original interview lasted about 10 minutes and the Officer just asked a couple questions about my travels, like:
- Why would you travel to Trinidad?
- What was your favorite part of Luanda?
- Why do you visit London so frequently?
Once approved, you can bypass the long lines at Customs and Border Patrol and enter the US by using simple kiosks. You also don’t have to fill out that little blue slip of paper either – all those questions are answers via kiosk.
The program isn’t free, of course. The program costs $100 for the five-year membership. $20 a year!? It’s totally worth it. What’s even better, many luxury credit cards will reimburse you for this expense. Just another reason to love the American Express Platinum Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige cards, as if we needed another reason!
Department of Homeland Security changed the website a few months ago, so for your renewal you’ll need to create a new login. Grab your Trusted Traveler ID Number (found on your Global Entry ID Card) and it’ll take you about five minutes to recreate your account. After confirming your name, address, employer(s) and countries you’ve visited, you just pay your fee and wait. This was the toughest part. Once you submit your application, you can’t do anything until you’ve been fully vetted. At that point you can schedule your renewal interview. Surprisingly, I didn’t need to have a second interview! My renewal application was approved – the review took DHS nearly six weeks. Three of my colleagues all had to go in for renewal interviews though, so don’t count of getting off without an interview.
Do you have Global Entry? How much time does it save you? It has saved me over two hours sometimes on arrival – to me it is totally worth it.