May 27, 2017
How to Get Expedited TSA Screening and US Entry with Global Entry

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Ever seen people going through various TSA security lines much faster than you? Have you ever wondered how some people clear US customs and immigration much quicker than you upon re-entry into the USA while you’re stuck in an hour long line? It’s because they’re enrolled in a government program called Global Entry-which anyone can join, and is free if you have the right credit card.


Global Entry

Global Entry is a Customs and Border Protection program which offers expedited entry into the US for pre-approved travelers. The main perks of Global Entry come when you’re entering the USA from abroad. Instead of waiting in the normal immigration lines (which take forever), you proceed to designated Global Entry kiosks. All you have to do is scan your passport, tap a few buttons on a computer screen, confirm your fingerprints and you’re on your way. That’s it. It takes me about five minutes to clear customs and immigration when I enter the the USA.


Global Entry membership also comes with TSA Pre-Check. TSA Pre-Check allows you to go through expedited security at (mainly) US airports. This come with privileges like keeping your shoes on and not having to remove your laptop from your carry-on etc. I’ll have a more comprehensive post on TSA Pre-Check shortly.

How to Apply

US citizens and permanent residents are eligible for Global Entry. In addition, citizens of Colombia, UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, and Mexico are also eligible. Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for Global Entry benefits through another program called Nexus. If you’re interested in the program, you can apply here. The government will run a background check on you and assess your risk profile before approving you. If you’re approved online, the final step is to sign-up for an in-person interview.


How Long Does the Application Take?

It took about 2 weeks for my application to get approved. However, it took about 2 months after that to actually make it my interview. Many interview locations are booked out well in advance so you have to be patient or you have to be willing to travel to specific interview locations which have ample availability (these are typically out of the way). My actual interview took about 10 minutes. The officer just asked some generic questions, took my fingerprints, and I was done.


How to Get Global Entry for FREE

The Global Entry application fee costs $100 and if you’re approved, it’s valid for five years. However, there’s a number of credit cards which offer a Global Entry fee credit. All you have to do is charge the $100 to an eligible credit card, and the card company will issue you a $100 credit. These credits are typically limited to once every five years. The following cards offer Global Entry fee credits:

If you travel with any kind of frequency, you’ll love Global Entry. I probably save about an hour every time I enter the US by not having to wait in those ridiculous immigration lines. And it also comes with TSA Pre-Check-which saves me time every time I fly from the US. Having expedited security allows me to arrive at the airport later since I need to budget less time to go through security-another win.