With lines at airports getting longer, everyone is looking for a way to speed things up. We’ve already talked about TSA Precheck, but have you considered Global Entry? Global Entry, which is run by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, helps speed up the process of entering the United States from foreign countries. If you are thinking about becoming a member, you may wonder what Global Entry is and how Global Entry differs from TSA Precheck. I recently went through the process, and learned a little bit along the way.
The information listed here is for your convenience, and we make no representations for its current accuracy – always check the US Customs and Border Protection website for the latest and most accurate information.
5 Things To Know About Global Entry: Traveling With Family
Will You Automatically Get Expedited Entry Into the US?
Global Entry does not guarantee a quicker entry Into the US. Members might be selected at the border for further screening/examination. Of course, you apply for Global Entry hoping that you won’t be selected, and that you will get a quicker entry, but it’s not a definite guarantee. I’ve been lucky to have received it every time I tried to use it.
Keep in mind too, that even if you go through customs quickly, you’ll still have to wait at baggage claim for your bags. There have been times when I got through customs and waited a while for bags. So you don’t necessarily save time.
If you are traveling through an international airport that offers US preclearance (US customs onsite), you should still be able to go through the Global Entry line. I experienced that on a recent trip through Toronto.
How is Global Entry Different From TSA Precheck? Should I Choose Global Entry or TSA Precheck?
TSA Precheck is run by the TSA (part of the Department of Homeland Security) rather than the US Customs and Border Protection. TSA Precheck is used when you go through a security line, before you fly, while Global Entry is used once you arrive back on US soil.
If you are a Global Entry member, you can use that number as your known traveler number (KTN) when checking in to a flight in the US. That will give you access to the TSA Precheck line (unless you are chosen for additional screening). However, you can’t use TSA Precheck for Global Entry. If you traveling internationally frequently, Global Entry is probably the best option.
How Long Can Global Entry Take?
In most cases, you’ll need to go to a local airport for your interview, and appointments can book up well in advance. In Boston, I made an appointment in January and wasn’t able to find availability for the appointment until May. If you are planning an international vacation, it’s best to start the process for each member of the family ASAP. Locally, I’ve talked to families that have chosen to drive to a nearby state, rather than wait for an appointment in Boston. Definitely look at your options if you can’t find a quick appointment locally.
Once you complete your in-person interview, it doesn’t take long at all to get an answer. You’ll also receive a card in the mail. You won’t necessarily need to show the card (I haven’t needed it yet) but it’s good to have with you.
Considering Global Entry With Family Travel
If your kids want to use Global Entry, regardless of age, they’ll need to go through the process. Every single person needs their own number. Even babies need their own number. This isn’t necessarily the case for TSA Precheck.
If you are traveling with family members who don’t have global entry, you may look to see if your airport participates in Mobile Passport. That’s what my family uses when we are all together.
So, is Global Entry worth it when traveling with family? It really does depend. If you frequently travel, especially internationally, it may be worthwhile. If you only travel internationally on occasion, it may be best to just wait in the line, or try the Mobile Passport app.
Your Credit Card May Cover Your Membership Fee
Depending upon which credit cards you carry, you may find that your application fee gets reimbursed. If that’s the case, it really can make it worthwhile. Check out this post to learn more about which credit cards cover the fee. In most cases, it’s only going to cover the fee for the primary cardholder, but find out from your provider before applying. You’ll usually charge the application fee to the credit card, and then will receive a statement credit.
Do you have Global Entry?
Related: 7 Air Travel Tips