With so many more people starting to get into traveling, I bet you’ve been hearing a lot of terms and phrases you may not be familiar with. Pre-Check? Global Entry? Sound familiar? Not to worry. If you haven’t heard of these programs, heard of them but don’t know what they are, or if they are worth getting–you’re in the right place. This post is for you!
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a program offered by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that essentially provides expedited re-entry into the U.S. to pre-approved ‘low risk’ travelers. In short, you get to skip the long lines.
Who is Eligible?
U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents, and citizens of several other countries including: Panama, Germany, the UK, Singapore, the Netherlands, South Korea, Columbia, and Mexican Nationals. Like just about any other application, you’ll run into eligibility problems if the Feds are watching you, if you
embellished lied on your application, if you’ve been convicted criminally, if you have warrants, if your application is incomplete…you get the point. This is kinda like credit except if you aren’t low risk you’ll get denied.
What Are the Benefits?
- TSA Pre-Check Eligibility (This is essential for domestic travel). Apparently it isn’t guaranteed each time but GE makes you more likely to be selected for Pre-Check status. Personally, I haven’t experienced this. Or maybe I am just really low risk. Since I have enrolled in GE, I have had Pre-Check status on all eligible flights. When enrolled, you receive a 9 digit ‘known traveler number’ or KTN, that you enter when booking a flight (similar to an airline traveler program number) to obtain your status.
- No paper work. You know that blue declaration form they pass out on the plane before you land? Save a tree. Don’t need it. All of these questions are answered at the Global Entry Kiosk.
- You can get through some other countries’ immigration and customs quickly.
- Wait times are significantly reduced. In Pre-Check lines for example, don’t require you to remove your laptops, travel sized liquids, shoes, belts, or light outerwear. The shoes is the best perk to me because I am certain nobody sanitizes those mats you have to step on in the regular lines, and, well, people are nasty. Gross.
How Much Does it Cost?
$100. Dassit. This is for the Global Entry program. The TSA Pre Check program alone costs $85 for 5 years. It should be super obvious which program offers the most value, unless of course you never plan to leave the United States. There are ways to get this enrollment fee refunded, check with your credit card company!
How Long Does it Last?
Five years. Let’s put this in perspective. One hundred dollars divided by five years equals $20 per year to enter expedited lines on domestic and international travel. With the way TSA has been understaffed at just about all the major airports across the country, even if you only travel 1-2 times a year, this is still worth its weight in gold. Half the price some of ya’ll pay to skip the line at the club for one night. Or pay to wear your fitted inside a dimly lit building (that you knew had a strict dress code before you left the house) where not only can nobody see your hat/outfit coordination, but nobody cares. That was petty. Petty, but true. Moving right along.
How Do I Enroll?
- Visit this website
- Create a GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) Account
- Complete the application and pay the non-refundable $100
- Assuming all goes well with your application review, you’ll be ‘conditionally approved’. At that point you’ll be invited to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Many of these are located in major airports and government buildings, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from depending on where you are.
- Bring two forms of identification to your interview, a passport and a driver’s license will suffice.
- Be on time. The interviews are very short, about 3-5 minutes. You do take a picture and receive a card, so be prepared for that–ladies, that was for you.
So, is it Worth it?
If you’ve made it this far and still have questions about the value of this program, I am disappointed (however I am not sure if I should be more disappointed in me or you 😛 ). Like I said before, if even if you only travel 1-2 times a year, or think you might travel abroad within 5 years, Global Entry is well worth the $100 bucks. You’ll save so much time on domestic and international trips avoiding the long, often stagnant lines, and who doesn’t like saving time? It’s the one thing you can’t get back. I’ve been enrolled in the program since around April 2016 (benefits start immediately by the way)
So are you convinced? What are you waiting for? Are you already enrolled in Global Entry? Comment down below with your favorite GE perk!