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?
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.
- 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 can screen yourself before hand by taking a free criminal record check readily available online these days. That way, you will have no surprises.
- 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.
- 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?