How I Got Approved For Global Entry in 20 Days

When I booked a trip to Morocco recently, the agent who helped me asked if I had already applied for Global Entry. She was the second person to mention Global Entry to me that week. I took that has a sign and decided to apply.

 

I completed the application online on January 4, 2017 and today, just twenty days later, I received Global Entry Approval and a Global Entry number, aka, Known Traveler Number, (KTN). So the process from start to finish took exactly 20 days and was completely painless, well except for the $100 fee I had to pay to apply!

I thought today I’d give you a brief overview of how the process worked in my case, and share a few tips that may prove helpful if you decide to apply for Global Entry sometime in the future.

 

What is Global Entry?

If you’re not familiar with Global Entry, here’s how it’s described at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website.

 

Once you’re approved for a Global Entry pass, you no longer have to go through the long security lines when entering into the United States from another country. If you’re traveling with other people, including family, they will still have to go through the regular security lines unless they have their own Global Entry pass.

 

There are several countries that participate in Global Entry or have their own Global Entry style programs. These are the countries that supposedly participate, have no idea how accurate this list is, though: Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Mexico, Singapore, Argentina, South Korea, Taiwan, Colombia and Panama.

Here’s what the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency says about how your Global Entry Card works regarding expedited entry into other countries.

 

From what I’ve read, having a Global Entry card mostly helps speed up the process when you’re flying back into the U.S. Since a Global Entry card includes TSA Pre √, that part helps for domestic flights. Since TSA Pre √ costs $85, if you think you’ll be flying internationally once or twice a year and live close enough to one of the interview locations, you might as well pay a little more and get Global Entry.

 

My Timeline for Applying for Global Entry

This was the timeline my Global Entry application process followed:

1-4-17: Registered/Enrolled with GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) and completed the rather lengthy Global Entry Trusted Traveler Program Enrollment Application at the GOES website online.

1-10-17: Received an e-mail letting me know there had been a change in the “status” of my application. Logged onto the GOES site to view the change and saw I had been given “Conditional Approval.” I was prompted to choose a date and location for my in-person interview. I chose the 1st available date which was today, January 24, 2017. There were two locations in Atlanta from which to choose and I chose one that was a few miles away from the airport, as opposed to the other location that was inside the airport.

1-24-17: Visited the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, completed the short interview and received approval. Was given my Global Entry Number, aka, “Known Traveler Number.” Was told I would receive a physical Global Entry Card in the mail in a couple of weeks. The actual card is needed when traveling via road or ship into Canada and Mexico.

 

Important: As soon as you get your Global Entry number, aka KTN, you’ll want to log on to the website of the airline(s) you travel with the most, and add that number under your profile. As soon as I got home, I added my number under my profile with Delta Airlines since I that’s the airline I normally use.

When you log on to Delta, the place where you add it under your profile, is actually called the “Known Traveler Number.” Not sure if it’s called that on all airline’s websites but it was called that on Delta’s.

If you forget and don’t add your Global Entry Number/KTN to your profile at the website of the airline you’ll be using, when you go to the airport to fly out, your Global Entry will not work or be recognized by that airline. Once you add your number to an airline’s website, it should remain under your profile for all future travel, so you only have to add it once.

 

How to Apply, My Experience

To apply for Global Entry, I completed the application online. It took me about 30 minutes. It’s very detailed, as you might expect. The worse parts of the application for me was how tiny the writing was. So be prepared for some eye strain. The good thing is the application never timed-out, so it didn’t seem to matter how long it was taking for me to complete it.

Have you ever had that happen to you: be in the process of filling out a very long, detailed form or application online and it times out and logs you off right in the middle of it, then when you go back, you have to start all over? That didn’t happen with this application, thankfully! I guess they know it takes a while to complete.

 

Tips for Completing the Application, Gather These Things Together First

Before you sit down to complete the application, gather together these things: Your passport, driver’s license, birth certificate and a credit card.

If you haven’t lived in your current home for longer than 5 years, before you began the application process, sit down and make a list of your previous addresses because you’ll be asked for those. I can’t remember how far back it wanted since I’ve lived in my home for 25 years now, so didn’t have to list any previous addresses. But just jot down the last 2-3 addresses so you’ll have all that handy.

Same for your current occupation, if you haven’t worked at your current occupation for longer than a certain number of years (forgotten how long now, may have been 5 years) you’ll need to list your previous jobs, too.

Where have you traveled? They also ask what countries you’ve traveled to in the last X number of years, so jot those down, too. If you have all that info ready when you start the application process, it will go a lot faster.

 

The Fee

The application fee is $100 and a Global Entry pass is good for 5 years. It includes TSA Pre √ which costs $85, so I think it’s a better deal to go ahead and go for Global Entry if you think you’ll be traveling internationally a few times over the next five years.

When a Global Entry Pass expires after 5 years and you apply to renew it, it may not be necessary to schedule another interview, per the officer who interviewed me this morning. Of course, that is subject to change, but if everything looks okay when you reapply, you probably won’t have to go through another interview. You will have to pay the application fee again, though.

 

How Did I Get My Personal Interview So Quickly? 

After I applied online and was awaiting “Conditional Approval,” I was concerned about how long the process was going to take. I was hoping I would get my Global Entry card in time to use it for my March trip to Morocco, but I had resigned myself to the possibility that it might not come through in time. Before applying, I had read so many complaints online from folks who were having to wait months and months for the in-person interview.

One thing that made me feel a bit more hopeful was where I live: 30 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson, the busiest airport in the world. I figured if anyone had figured out a way to streamline the process, it would be the officials here in Atlanta. I was also encouraged when I discovered that we had not one, but two offices where interviews were being held. So, I’m guessing that’s why the process went so quickly.

If the closest interview location to you is booked way far out, check other locations. If you’re willing to drive an hour or two, you may be able to get an appointment sooner.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Tradeport Drive in Atlanta, Photo from Google Maps

Walk-ins

I read one story online where a person applied and received conditional approval, but the in-person interview was scheduled really far out. They stopped into a Global Entry Enrollment Center that was inside an airport (not sure which one…maybe Atlanta) because they were passing through and had a few hours before their next flight. They were eventually seen by someone, but they almost missed their flight! So if you decide to walk into one of the Global Entry offices while on a layover in an airport, keep watch of your time or you may just miss your flight!

When you go for your in-person interview, you’ll need to take your passport and a photo ID like your driver’s license. I also took my birth certificate, just in case. They only asked for my passport, though.

The interview went very quickly. They asked a few basic questions like if I had ever been arrested, if I had ever been fined or held for trying to bring something into the country, if I had ever gone by any other names, etc… They do such a thorough and detailed background check before you arrive, that’s probably why the interview process goes so quickly.

Update: Another suggestion that was made in the comments that I forgot to mention is this: Once you get the email with your conditional approval and logon to choose an initial interview date, check back daily to see if a closer appointment has opened up. There are bound to be some cancellations and you may be able to snag an appointment sooner if you check back on a daily basis.

 

Where Can I Use My Global Entry Pass?

Per U.S. Immigration Visa and Travel website, these airports have Global Entry Lanes for expedited customs and border clearance. This may just be a partial list, I’m sure airports are being added all the time.

Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS)
Calgary International Airport (YYC)
Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT)
Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)
Denver International Airport (DEN)
Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)
Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York (JFK)
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS)
Miami International Airport (MIA)
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB)
Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)*
Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)*
San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

 

Tip:

When the officer took my fingerprints this morning, at first she was having trouble getting them to register on their scanner/computer. She had me put on a little lotion, and when I tried again, it worked fine. She told me whenever I’ll be using a Global Entry kiosk, I should put a little lotion on first, being sure to rub some on my fingertips.

So, if you have ever had trouble with that or have very dry skin like I do, you may want to put a small amount of lotion on your hands before getting off the plane.

 

Who Gets Turned Down for Global Entry?

Obviously, not this guy! 🙂

Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (www.cbp.gov)

 

As I was standing up to leave, I thanked the officer and told her I felt fortunate to have Global Entry approval. She said, “You should, we turn down a lot of applications!”

Don’t let the process intimidate you, tons of people get approved for Global Entry every year. Over 1.8 million people have already been approved, with approximately 50,000 applications being submitted every month! I guess it won’t be long before the long lines will be at the Global Entry kiosks!

Here are a few of the things that can prevent a person from being approved for Global Entry.

 

If you’re interested in getting your Global Entry Pass, you’ll find a video with additional information about the benefits/process here: Global Entry. You can apply at that link, as well.

Happy Travels!




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Comments

  1. We have the Global Entry document and it works! Worth every penny!

  2. Catherine Schiele says:

    I’m puzzled by your comment that TSA Pre-check costs $85.00. My boarding pass always says TSA pre-check and I have never paid $85, it just automatically appears. I’m 73, and do a moderate amount of travel. I’d be interested in where you heard one has to pay $85.00? Happy travels.

    • It says on the TSA Website, “With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your: shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.” You can read that here: https://www.tsa.gov/precheck

      A friend of mine said it automatically appeared on his boarding pass and he wasn’t sure why, either. He thought it might be because he worked for Federal Court System in Atlanta. He just retired so maybe when it expires, he’ll have to pay next time. He has no idea if that’s why it shows up on his boarding pass, too. Maybe everyone who works for the Federal Govt. is pre-approved since they probably do background checks on them when they are hired.

  3. Catherine Schiele says:

    Forgot to mention that other friends have TSA pre-check appear automatically also. I’m thinking started appearing 3 years ago. I did check the federal site and it does say it costs $85.00. Puzzling.

  4. I think if you are an ” older adult” you begin to see the automatic tsa pre check on your boarding pass.

  5. Susan, I’m glad you went ahead and got this. It will make a huge difference in time for you when you return to the US. 😉
    Yes, it is an easy process and worth the $100.

  6. Hubby and I both had the TSA pre-check on our boarding passes last summer when we flew from Texas to Florida and we never paid for it either. In fact, we didn’t even notice it on the boarding passes and stood in the regular line. We felt pretty dumb when the guy in the airport pointed it out to us! We got it on the return flight too and still don’t know why. We’ll be flying again in a few weeks (out of the country this time) so it will be interesting to see what happens.

  7. Gayle Kesinger says:

    I have helped several people with the paperwork. It is not hard but you have to have the documentation ready to enter. Susan, I am really surprised that with the amount of travel you have done over the last few years that you didn’t already have it. Love your travel blogs.

  8. We have not applied for the pre-check, but it sometimes appears on our boarding passes. May have something to do with age, etc. At one airport, we were directed through the pre-check line without it being on the boarding passes.

    Thanks for the info. My spouse just returned from Europe and hated the customs lines coming home.

  9. We had PSA Pre check RT from Florida to Detroit last Fall as well that we never paid for…hadn’t flown in quite awhile either. Never knew why this happened.

  10. Cyndi Raines says:

    Good information Susan, thank you. I’m not planning any out-of-the-country trips any time soon, but it’s good information to know. In April, we hope to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico and then travel on to Santa Fe for our Godchild’s wedding. Watching air fares. Congrats on being approved!

  11. Wow. Traveling is surely an experience! Long gone are the good ole days of just hopping on a plane with only a drivers license to cross into Canada or Mexico. It’s a whole new ballgame these days. This new system sounds amazing. It is comforting knowing the process is so detailed and thorough .. they are really making sure that everyone who passes is worthy of credentials. Your trip in March will be a breeze 🙂 Thank you for sharing this interesting information!

  12. I loved reading this! My husband and I traveled to Italy this past fall and hope to go to Ireland this coming fall. We fly out of Atlanta, so this sounds like something we could really use. We also fly into Logan in Boston once a year, so it’s a win-win for us, it seems. My husband, with his military career, will most surely be approved. I can’t see why I won’t, either. Thanks, Susan, for the info!

    • Thanks, Martha! The office I went to was the Tradeport Drive location and it wasn’t busy at all. The whole appointment took about 5 minutes. I never even got to read the magazine I chose from the stack available. lol
      The one thing I forgot to include in this post (just went back and added it) is once you get your Global Entry number, also called your Known Traveler’s Number, you need to log on to the website for the airline or airlines you travel with and add that number under your Profile at their website.

      The officer/agent who interviewed told me to be sure and do that because if you forget, when you get to the airport, the airline will not recognize your Global Entry status. As soon as I got home today, I added my number to my profile with Delta and United Airlines. Just keep that in mind because it’s an important step. On Delta’s website, it goes in the box/section called “Known Traveler Number.” I had to call United because I couldn’t get logged on to the site. They claimed they added the number to my profile for me while we were on the phone, but when I checked later after the call, it wasn’t there, so I added it myself.

  13. Did you know that a Nexus card includes all the benefits of Global Entry (even looks nearly identical) and costs half, with free cards for kids under 18?
    https://www.dhs.gov/trusted-traveler-comparison-chart

    • Since Nexus is the Canadian version of Global Entry, there are only 4-5 locations in all of the U.S. where you can go for your interview. So, I’d rather pay another $50 than spend hundreds on a plane ticket (or gas) not to mention the time, trying to get to one of the few enrollment centers that exist in the U.S. Thanks for suggestion but that just won’t work for most folks.

  14. Nancy Rubenstein says:

    I live in the Boston Area and the whole process took me only 21 days. And this all happened in the month of November 2016, before Thanksgiving!
    I recommend that, after scheduling your interview, go back every day and check for new appointment availability. You will likely be able to reschedule for an earlier date as there are many cancellations that spear as new openings in the schedule.

    • That’s great advice, Nancy! I meant to include that in the article. I need to go back and add that. I bet November was a busy month, so that’s great you were able to get it so quickly!

  15. Hey Susan, Global entry will certainly make your travels more enjoyable. If you have ever flown info JFK and had to go through customs and TSA to make your flight connections you know what I mean. Since you said you use Delta I’m wondering if you know about Comfort+ seating? When my daughter and I took the 9 hour flight to Italy last Oct we got Comfort+ seating and it was worth every penny. Daughter has a history of blood clots and having the extra leg room, larger seat was important. Here is a link if you would like to check it out. Vikki in VA http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/onboard-experience/delta-comfort-plus.html?Log=1&mkcpgn=SEzzzGGsuCPbd&clickid=baf37e5e-9bc5-4616-9c8c-40f3e8abbb8a&tracking_id=313×12102&s_kwcid=TC|22023|delta%20comfort||S|p|44996728428

  16. Angela Lampkin says:

    I got mine in less then a week. Filled out application on a Friday. Recieved my letter the following Tuesday. Had my interview on Thursday. Used it for a flight on Friday!!!! I’ve had it for a year. I travel by air once week. Worth every penny.

  17. What a very informative post Susan as I didn’t realize there was such a system as Global Identity whereas I am quite aware of Nexus. That said; perhaps it is just me but I find it very disheartening, that unlike even twenty years ago we are now living in an era where such is even required. JMHO! -Brenda-

  18. Iris McCloud says:

    A few years ago on a flight to St. Maarten I had TSA pre-check on my boarding pass. When I questioned an airline employee I was told that many flights will have a number of random passengers cleared . This was about 5 years ago so I do not know if this is true any longer. I also don’t know if “random” actually meant that your flying history or passport info or even your age or looks had something to do with it.

  19. Susan, that is absolutely wonderful information. Thank you for sharing that. I have two daughters that fly internationally quite a bit and I know they would enjoy this perk! Happy travels in March!

  20. In 2015, my adult daughter and I flew from Ohio to Disney World. I hadn’t flown for years and was nervous about TSA checking because I had a medical port and breast prosthesis and was afraid this would cause problems. Three months early, I called TSA and told them about this and gave them all info I knew about my flight, my daughter’s and my name. The agent was very nice, and only reassured me I’d not have to remove anything when checked, though I’d read some horror stories about that online. I even got a letter from my doctor to show in case anything odd showed up on the scan. We printed our tickets at home the day before leaving, and were pleasantly surprised when in the regular line at the airport we were told that our tickets were pre-check! We hadn’t noticed, didn’t even know what that was but it sure was handy, especially in Atlanta with the long lines. Of course we were pre-check coming back too. I know now they will pick out random low risk travelers sometimes for this, I have read about it since. One friend told me he and his wife flew somewhere, he had random pre-check, she did not, so it’s funny. My daughter got it too, but she did have to go through and extra screening, I think it was Atlanta in coming back. Don’t know why except she’s 22 and they may have wondered why someone so young was on it. But I never really asked for it and of course wasn’t charged anything.

    • The friend of mine who always gets the pre-check on his boarding pass, even though he’s never applied for it, was on dialysis for a year or two. During that time, he had to fly once with his dialysis equipment. I think that’s when he first noticed that he was given the TSA precheck status. I know he mentioned his equipment when he called to ask for an emergency isle seat because he knew he would need more leg space due to other health issues he has with his legs. So, I bet that’s why they gave him the TSA Precheck, to try and make it as easy on him as possible. He’s had a kidney transplant now, so he doesn’t fly with equipment now, but he still has the TSA precheck approval and I bet he’ll always have it. So, maybe it’s something they do if they know a person has some medical issues, just to keep things as easy on them as they can. I would hate to think of someone with a lot of medical concerns, having to go through all that undressing and redressing etc… that’s required now. So glad you were spared all that, Barb!

      • I think they just want to shorten the regular check lines all they can. I remember reading one horror story online from a woman who had one of those compression sleeves on, and the TSA agent wanted her to take it off. You are supposed to put it on early before flying and wear through the flight and a few hours after. She told them that and they wanted to cut a piece out of it so they could see what it was made of! I had one of those on too,they prevent swelling of the arm if you’ve had lymph node removal in the past)so I know all about them. The agent in this case must not have been trained properly to expect people with medical issues like this. Even athletes wear those now. This case happened a few years back, and I don’t remember her outcome now. I can’t imagine traveling with equipment like dialysis equipment, but people are so much more mobile these days even with these issues and that’s a good thing. I’d rather be safe and undergo extra screening if need be as long as it doesn’t hold up the line or me too much.

  21. I just applied for Global Entry through a website called global-entry.com.
    The cost was $149, not $85 or $100.
    Is this a third party that will apply for me and therefore, charge the extra $49? In other words, was this a legitimate transaction or a scam?

    • Gosh, I’m not sure. Here’s the place that I applied: https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/goes/jsp/login.jsp
      I found that link from here: https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/how-apply
      I would be a littler nervous about using a third party to apply for me, because you have to type in a good bit private information. You may want to google and read about the place that you used, to see if there are any complaints online. Maybe try googling, “Is it safe to use XXX to apply for global entry” replacing XXX with the name of the place you used online.

    • They may just be a service that assists since the application isn’t worded the easiest to read/understand. But I would think most folks could handle it without using another service. Hopefully the company you used is legit.

    • Hi it is Fred again.
      The actual website I used is global-enrollment.com.
      I googled ” is it safe to use global-enrollment.com to apply for Global Entry pass.” I did not find an answer or comments. So I will wait and see if I receive positive results from this outfit. Does anyone else have experience with global-enrollment.com?
      Thank you, Fred.

    • Fred, I searched fro Global-entry.com and I only found this “domain selling website” that says the domain is available to purchase. https://www.hugedomains.com/domain_profile.cfm?d=global-entry&e=com
      So, there doesn’t appear to be a website at global-entry.com

      I’m not sure which site you used to apply for global entry, but I did notice a site online that apparently applies for people and charges for $149. They had a different name from the one you mentioned in your comment. I don’t anything about that site.

      If you are worried, you may want to consider contacting the various credit reporting agencies and having your credit frozen. You can also do that online. I have my credit frozen with all three agencies to prevent identity theft. If you do that, the important thing is to keep track of your passwords for each of the three credit reporting agencies, just in case you ever need to unfreeze your credit.

  22. I just got my Global Entry in 19 days from application to finish! I got the conditional approval just 10 days after application and immediately jumped on the GOES website. I live in New York City – the wait time for interviews in Manhattan was almost 4 months, but at JFK I was able to get one in 9 days (and it could have been just 5 days if I took off from work in the middle of the day). At the JFK enrollment center they’re doing interviews 7 days a week! My big tip, then, is to look for alternate interview locations if the one closest to you has long lines.

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