If you’re a frequent traveler, you’ve undoubtedly had the near-universal experience of enduring a TSA security line or an immigration line upon re-entry to your home country.
What if you could bypass these lines for good?
You may have heard of Global Entry, 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. You fill out a (fairly lengthy) application, pay $100, and if your application passes the initial phase, you’re invited to an in-person interview/screening at a participating airport. If you pass that phase of the application, you are granted a Global Entry ID. In a nutshell, this is how it works:
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. (www.cbp.gov)
In addition, people who are approved via the Global Entry program can also participate in TSA Pre-Check, which allows people to skip regular TSA security lines at participating airports and go through an expedited line — without having to remove shoes or other clothing items, open laptops, or do any of the other things that take up time in line.
Global Entry (and the accompanying TSA Pre-Check) is a good fit for your flying needs if:
You plan to travel internationally any time in the next five years. The more you travel, of course, the more worthwhile it will be — but many reviewers indicated that Global Entry is worth the time savings even if you travel internationally once a year or less.
You have the Amex Platinum, Mercedes-Benz Platinum, or Business Platinum (or Centurion) cards, as the $100 fee is refunded to you as a statement credit. Other cards may also offer this reimbursement — check with your credit card company to be sure.
You live within a reasonable distance of and use any of the airports listed here. The GE program requires the in-person interview, so if the nearest participating airport is several hundred miles from you, it might not be worth it, unless you are a very frequent flier. Participating TSA Pre-Check airlines and airports can be found here.
If you are a Canadian resident, the news is even better! If you qualify for Canada’s expedited-traveler program, called Nexus (which only costs $50), you get Global Entry for free.