Traveling Internationally? Get Global Entry

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Traveling overseas can be exhausting, and there is nothing worse than waiting in a crazy long line to get through customs when arriving back in the United States. Thankfully, there is a loop hole that accelerates many of these procedures.

Global Entry is a program where you submit a background check and an in-person interview with the United States Customs and Boarder Protection at your home airport. After doing so and paying a fee of $100 (valid for five years), you can go through expedited lines at customs when you return to the U.S., in addition to using TSA pre-check when flying domestically.

Many credit cards such as The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige Card offer rebates for Global Entry. As part of Choice Benefits, Delta Platinum Medallion and Diamond Medallion members can receive a $100 voucher toward Global Entry Enrollment.

LifeHacker writer Emily Price could not say enough about the benefits of Global Entry:

“It’s a service I recommend to everyone who travels, even a little bit, to get. For instance, earlier this year when my boyfriend and I returned from Italy, I was through customs in San Francisco a full hour and a half before he was, thanks to Global Entry. I walked through the same lines as flight crew at SFO, waited in zero lines and was sipping on coffee at Starbucks outside of security roughly 20 minutes after we landed. If you can save yourself the customs headache a few times over the five-year span, and use TSA Pre a few times, that $100 is well spent.”

The initial step in applying for Global Entry is filling out an online form for your background check. Click on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security image below to get the ball rolling on your application:

After a preliminary approval, you will schedule an in-person interview which may be a hassle because it sometimes takes several months to get an appointment. Emily recommends doing a walk-in appointment:

  • All Global entry offices take a few walk-in appointments each day. Arrive before they open or before lunch (Emily arrived around 10:45am).
  • Upon arrival, tell the person at the door that you are there as a walk-in for a Global Entry appointment. They will have you write down your name and tell you that you aren’t guaranteed to be seen that day but will try to be worked in.
  • Bring something to occupy yourself for a few hours. You may be called upon soon after arrival but come in with the idea that you will likely have to camp out for a while.
  • Emily was called for an appointment within 2 minutes of putting her name on the signup sheet. Her boyfriend who tried a few months later was called within 15 minutes.
  • From what she could tell (and judging by her own experience), appointments take around 5 minutes but are scheduled for 15, so there is a solid chance they will find room for you in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Make sure to bring your valid passport and one other form of identification (such as a driver’s license or ID card with your current address) to the interview.

Your wait experience might vary based on where you live, but the ease and benefits of having Global Entry are well worth the effort. Upon returning from the Caribbean recently (and waiting in a claustrophobic customs line for over an hour), I noticed the Global Entry kiosks that people were literally breezing through and not having to wait in line with the rest of us. I only travel internationally once a year, but you can bet that I will not leave the country again without this perk.

Further your traveling ease by using travel medical insurance from MissionSafe. Plans are as low as $2.45 per person per day.

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