Global Entry: Getting Ready for International Travel!

by FI Fighter on May 19, 2014

in Travel Hacking


Up to this point in my life, I haven’t done much traveling. That is about to change, as I rapidly wind down the last lap of my engineering career. I’m about to switch gears and really start enjoying life! 🙂

Upcoming Travel

This upcoming August, I have travel plans for a round-the-world excursion. I’ll be traveling for about a month overseas and can’t wait!

To start preparing for this drastic shift in life, I’ve worked tirelessly in trying to accumulate as many credit card bonus miles/points that I possibly can. Traveling first class for FREE is definitely in the cards for the future (provided the airlines don’t massively devalue their award charts even more). Also, it’s great being able to stay in some nice, fancy hotels for FREE.

Well, maybe not 100% FREE… But pretty close.

Global Entry

Since I do plan on traveling a lot internationally in the future, I decided that now was a good time to sign up online for Global Entry. Global Entry is a program offered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allow for low-risk (CLEAN record), pre-approved travelers to expedite their entry back into the United States. This means being able to bypass long immigration and customs lines and passing right on through; you simply need to work the kiosk machine. No muss, no fuss, and no paperwork to fill out.

Global entry is valid for 5 years for a fee of $100. Upon expiration, you would need to re-apply back into the program again.

To complete the process, you would do the following:

Step 1: Apply online.

Step 2: Wait for conditional approval notification.

Step 3: Schedule an appointment at your local airport (I went to SFO) within 30 days of the date of receiving your conditional approval notification.

Step 4: On the day of your appointment, bring with you: passport, ID (driver’s license, Lawful Permanent Resident card, etc.), printed copy of your conditional approval notification which contains your Global Entry Program Membership Number.

Step 5: Pass your interview!

My interview was this past Saturday at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and I was approved! 🙂

During the interview, they will take your fingerprints and thumbprints. After 7-10 days, you should receive your Global Entry card in the mail.

From U.S. Customs and Border Protection:

Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at select airports. At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

Note: You DO NOT use your Global Entry card at airport kiosks. Your passport or Lawful Permanent Resident card is the primary document to use.

TSA PreCheck

An extra bonus? Upon approval into the Global Entry program, you also get approved for TSA PreCheck! This means being able to move through airport checkpoints with more efficiency, and without the need to remove the following items:

  • Shoes
  • Laptop
  • Jacket
  • Belt
  • 3-1-1 compliant bag

From Wikipedia:

Members of Global Entry (along with members of NEXUS and SENTRI), may use TSA PreCheck on all participating airlines by entering their Customs and Border Protection ID number from their Global Entry card into their flight reservation information or into their frequent flyer account.

The following provides more information about TSA PreCheck from Southwest Airlines.


I’ve heard horror stories from others about how long and painful the process can be to get back into the country from overseas travel. I definitely want to avoid that headache when the time comes, so I’m hoping Global Entry will help me out. Provided you have a clean record, getting approved is very easy and straight-forward; the interview process isn’t bad at all (took me only about 5 minutes to complete). Also, enrolling into the program seems to be worth it because Global Entry is valid for 5 years at a time. That, and being approved for Global Entry also grants you approval for TSA PreCheck, which is plenty useful in its own right. I say, bring on the travel! 🙂

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MrsFinancialFreedomNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 4:40 am

What a brilliant idea!

The one thing I hate about travelling abroad are the endless security queues at the airports.

I might see if there is a similar scheme here in the UK as I definitely think it’s worth paying a bit extra for.


2 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm


It would be great if you’re able to find something similar. Waiting in line is something I definitely don’t enjoy doing.

Best wishes!


3 LeighNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 7:17 am

I have this and it’s amazing! I can no longer imagine traveling without it.


4 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm


Awesome! I can’t wait to use it 🙂



5 Even StevenNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

$20 a year to get hours of your life back at the airport, this sounds like a “makes sense” deal to me.


6 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Even Steven,

Exactly, I feel the same way. $20/year is nothing, and if you use it just once it will probably be worth it. After some extensive flying, I would imagine that you would want to get out of the airport ASAP.

Take care!


7 Dividend MantraNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 12:26 pm

FI Fighter,

Excited for you, my brother. I hope you have a blast!

Make sure you share your thoughts on some potential early retirement spots abroad. 🙂

Best wishes.


8 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:40 pm


Yeah man, I definitely cannot wait for the August trip. I hope I have enough memory on my phone b/c I plan on taking a ton of pictures 🙂

I will make sure to share anything good I find!

All the best!


9 Dave @ The New York BudgetNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Good luck on your travels. I am extremely jealous!

As with so many of your posts, I had never heard of this program before reading about it here! Thanks for the great info!


10 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:41 pm


Sure thing! I’ll also be in New York next week, so I’m going to have to try and find a way to meet up with you!

Take care!


11 No Nonsense LandlordNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Have a great time on your adventures! And do not even think about the rental property while you are gone. That’s why you have a PM.

And do not forget to notify your credit card companies so that your cards still work overseas… They often put a fraud alert on the cards of they are used outside their ‘normal’ area. Do it on at least 2-3 cards.


12 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:42 pm


Haha, yeah, that’s a good reason why I have a PM in place… On this trip, landlording is the last thing I want to be thinking about… 😉

Thanks for the credit card tip. I’m also going to be careful and try to avoid any foreign transaction/cash advance fees… I think I know what to do, but I’ll do some more reading… can never be too sure with these things.

Take care!


13 SundeepNo Gravatar May 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Awesome tip about this Global Entry thing, I too first heard about it from you.

Also would love to hear the results of your research into avoiding foreign transaction fees, another travel hack post perhaps?

August is just around the corner…


14 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 20, 2014 at 11:37 pm


Thanks for the feedback. Yup, that would make for a great post. I’ll keep that in mind!



15 Dan23No Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Have Global and it is awesome. Worth it even if you only take 1 international trip a year. I’ve heard that there are some reciprocal arrangements now as well, so not just on returning flights. Deplane to on train international flight <20 minutes JFK on my last flight. Unreal.


16 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 19, 2014 at 10:43 pm


That’s awesome, I’ll have to look into the reciprocal arrangements… I guess a good thing can get better.

Wow, that’s pretty incredible. I can’t wait to try it out in August! 🙂



17 The Phroogal JasonNo Gravatar May 20, 2014 at 5:04 am

I’ve traveled overseas often and some lines can be long. I thought about Global Entry and just didn’t want to spend the $100. When I travel with family or friends they didn’t have it either and they’d most likely have to wait for me to clear through.However, I’m flying a lot of domestic flights and loving TSA Pre. The first time I went through the TSA Pre I was amazed. It’s crazy how we’ve been conditioned to take off jackets, belts, shoes and items out of our bag. So given that ability to keep it on is definitely a nice treat.


18 FI FighterNo Gravatar May 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm


Yeah, that makes sense, and I can see how it can lose its appeal if you still have to wait on other people…

The TSA Pre makes it worth it for me since I do plan on using that quite extensively for domestic travel.

All the best!


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