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! 🙂
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.
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.
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:
- 3-1-1 compliant bag
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! 🙂