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What Is Global Entry & How Do I Get It?
What Is Global Entry & How Do I Get It?
Apr 15, 2024 2:57 PM

When you travel internationally, you have to clear U.S. Customs before being allowed back into the U.S. Depending on how many people are on your plane and how many other flights are arriving at the same time, these lines can be extremely long. One way to reduce your wait time and get through Customs quickly is by signing up for Global Entry.

Here's what Global Entry is, how it compares with TSA PreCheck, what it costs and how to get it for free.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a membership program offered by the Department of Homeland Security. It requires a one-time application fee, a background check and an in-person interview. Once approved, your membership lasts for five years.

As a member, you'll receive expedited security screening through the TSA PreCheck lanes at participating domestic airports, as well as accelerated entry at eligible U.S. Customs locations.

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Who can get Global Entry?

Global Entry is open to U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents. Additionally, membership is available for citizens of selected other countries:

Netherlands citizens who are enrolled in FLUX.

South Korea's Smart Entry Service members.

Citizens of Argentina, Colombia, Germany, India, Mexico, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom may apply.

Canada's NEXUS members may not apply but can use Global Entry benefits.

Differences between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

With Global Entry, you receive all of the benefits of TSA PreCheck plus extra perks. While the interview is more in-depth and there are fewer locations that offer them, the slightly higher cost is worth it if you travel at least once in the next five years.

Unlike TSA PreCheck, every person in your traveling group needs to have a Global Entry membership in order to go through the dedicated Global Entry lanes. This is true even if your child is a baby (I found this out the hard way coming back from Cancun when my daughter was just six months old).

Video preview image

This chart highlights the similarities and differences of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

TSA PreCheck

Global Entry

Length of membership

5 years.

5 years.

Application fee

$78 ($70 online renewal).

$100.

Enrollment centers

500+.

100+.

Access to TSA PreCheck security lane

Yes.

Yes.

Can bring minor children with you (12 & under)

Yes.

No, child must have their own membership.

Access to expedited U.S. Customs lanes

No.

Yes.

Best for

Domestic travelers.

International travelers.

What is the fee for Global Entry?

Applying for Global Entry is $100 every five years. The fee is nonrefundable, and it won't be refunded if you apply but aren't approved.

The $100 application fee breaks down to $20 per year or less than $1.70 a month. Even if you only go on a handful of trips over the next five years, signing up for Global Entry is likely worth it.

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