The Global Entry Program

Thank you to whomever at U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) who thought this would be a great idea for low-risk travelers (who hate lines) to expedite entry back into the U.S.  God bless you!

I learned about Global Entry when I was traveling back from Tanzania with a colleague who was in the program.  She had already retrieved her suitcase from baggage claim and while she waved goodbye to me, I looked on longingly as she exited the airport, and I was stuck still standing in the Customs line waiting for my passport to be reviewed.  I was instantly jealous!  So what exactly is Global Entry?  According to CBP’s website,

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Though intended for frequent international travelers, there is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program.

Not only does Global Entry provide an expedited exiting process, but it includes TSA Pre-Check as well.  With Pre-Check, travelers don’t have to remove their shoes, belts, coats, and laptops.  After applying online and paying the $100 fee, I went to the CBP office in DC for an “interview.”  The officer confirmed that my information submitted online was correct, reviewed my passports & license, and then took my picture.  She presented me with my ID card & I became the newest member of the Global Entry crew…at least for the next 5 years, which is how long membership is valid.

When I arrived at Dulles, I was able to bypass the rude Customs agents & headed straight to the Global Entry kiosk. After scanning my passport, the machine input all of my information, I filled out the electronic customs form, and the kiosk printed a receipt for me to present to the customs agent located at the exit.  Super easy!  My friend is not in the program, so while it was great for me, I still had to wait for her since we were riding together. I finished up at the kiosk and waited about 20 minutes for her at baggage claim.


Since there’s a separate exit for people with Global entry, after we gathered our bags, I bypassed 50 people waiting to have their passports checked a final time by entering the Global Entry line. Again, I found myself waiting for my friend for about 15 minutes. When she finally made it through she said, “So, looks like I need to get into this program.”  Yup!

Unfortunately, not everyone will be eligible to apply due to reasons they list here.  But if you are, just imagine how much time you’d save each time you were traveling (especially alone) if you didn’t have to wait in those pesky lines.  It’s definitely worth the $100 investment.