How to Apply for U.S. Global Entry Program


You’ve spent weeks consuming palate-stunning meals and viewing vistas that stopped you in your tracks. You’re on sensory overload, exhilarated.

Your 10-hour flight was delayed, but there’s no rush to get home.

You’d kill to stretch your legs, but the extra carry-on you had to stuff under the seat is chock-full of souvenirs.

When your plane lands, you navigate the maze of airport passageways. You’re almost at the end when…wait. Is that the customs line?

Sound familiar?

When returning from a life-changing adventure, there’s no bigger buzz kill than a long customs line. And let’s face it: aren’t they always long?

That’s why I ran to my computer when U.S. Customs and Border Protection unveiled its Global Entry program, which allows U.S. citizens expedited entry into the country. Was I willing to sacrifice a few iced mocha drinks, or $20/year, to breeze through U.S. customs? Heck, yeah!

How To Apply

  • Create a Global Online Enrollment System account.
  • Complete the application.
  • Pay the $100 non-refundable application fee via credit card or bank transfer. This fee will cover your active membership for five years.

Then What?

  • Your application is reviewed (meaning the feds will run a background check on you against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, agriculture and terrorist indices).
  • You will receive an electronic message in your Global Online Enrollment System account instructing you to schedule an interview. Although the website does not mention notification via U.S. mail, I also received a letter in the post about a week after the electronic message.
  • Use the online system to locate the Global Entry Enrollment Center most convenient to you. Most of the centers are located at or near airports.
  • Schedule your interview. To avoid the sadness of going to the airport and not boarding a plane, consider scheduling your interview a few hours before your next flight.

The Interview

  • Bring your passport and one other official form of identification such as a driver’s license.
  • You will watch a step-by-step demonstration video on how to use the Global Entry kiosks. Similar to jury duty, the video is shown to all interviewees at the same time. It lasts about five minutes. (Note: try to fight the giddiness you’ll feel. To me, the idea of never having to endure another U.S. customs line was almost as good as waking up ten pounds thinner. Almost.)
  • You will have a personal interview with a CBP Officer. This lasts about ten minutes (but don’t blame me if your experience is different!). They ask general questions about yourself and your background, mostly confirming what you indicated on your application.
  • They will take a photo of you.
  • They will take your fingerprints.
  • Using a dummy kiosk, you will practice your new expedited process.

How Does It Work?

  • When you arrive home in the U.S. from anywhere overseas, skip the customs line and head to one of the kiosks.
  • Insert your passport’s bar code.
  • Place your fingertips on the scanner.
  • Smile at the camera!
  • Make a customs declaration.
  • You’re on your way to home sweet home!

Find more info here.

Customs lines can be brutal! Have any horror stories?

What are your thoughts on Global Entry Program? Who has one?


About Author

Dawn first became hooked on traveling while studying abroad in London. Who knew how easy it was to hop on a plane, train or boat and emerge in another country! Since then, she has traveled as much as possible and loves how each destination alters her understanding of life. Read her expat exploits on, view her photos on and follow her on twitter @shootandscrawl. Based out of: Luxembourg City and New York City


  1. Sorry, but there is something wrong when you have to pay your government not to harass you when you try and enter your own country.
    There is also something wrong when they fine you for taking your own money out of the country, ( That was part of Obama’s health care bill)
    There is also something wrong when the IRS goes after people living in other countries for taxes on money made outside the USA.
    Not to be negative, but this is a prime example of how your freedoms are not being expanded, but limited.
    There is nothing good about being treated as a criminal would be if he was trying to enter the USA.
    Might want to consider the constitution and your rights before lauding thins program.
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

    • I’m not sure I understand where you’re coming from John.. is this just an anti-USA rant? We’re not paying for our government to not harass us upon entry, we’re paying for the privilege of not having to stand in line for hours. And that sounds awesome if you ask me!

  2. Poor me, not being a US citizen will still have to face the long line when I return to what I actually consider my home in Miami in December.

    • Hi Inka, if you are a permanent resident, you can qualify. I apologize for not including every possibility in my post. From the website (pertains to the interview): “Bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card.”

  3. I didn’t know about this either. Great information! My main airport is O’Hare, in Chicago, which can have huge lines. I think I might seriously look into the Global Entry program.

    You’ll have to follow up with a post about how it worked out when you enter the country again after your next trip abroad.

    • Hi David, thanks for reading! I’ve never completed an international leg in Chicago, but I go back and forth between NYC and Europe frequently and this is one of the only things that keeps me sane! At first, the idea of applying, interviewing, etc. turned me off completely, but it’s worth the headaches. I can’t wait to hear how you like it!

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