I recently took the plunge and signed up to Global Entry, a programme which was created by the U.S. Government that gives pre-approved clearance to low-risk travellers entering the country. Basically, you are expedited through immigration and customers, which we all know can take quite a while at airports like JFK, MIA and LAX to name a few.
Initially the scheme was reserved only for U.S. citizens, but it has since been rolled out to nine other countries which now includes the United Kingdom. Hurrah!
How much does it cost?
Global Entry costs $100 and lasts for five years. If you are someone like me who travels to the United States a couple of times each year, then it’s worth it. Especially if you are flying to the major international hubs where the getting through can take as long as three hours. I’ve done that far too many times before and $100 to potentially skip all that is unsurprisingly worth it.
How do I apply?
If you are a UK citizen, you’ll first need to apply for a UK background check on the gov.uk website. This costs £42. Once approved, you can then navigate to the GOES website and apply for Global Entry. You’ll need to provide information on your previous travels around the world, employment history and answer some security questions. If you receive conditional approval at this stage, you’ll have to schedule a face-to-face interview at a Global Entry Enrolment Centre. Fortunately there is currently one located at the U.S. Embassy in London; so that was very handy. The interview itself is very fast, I was in and out of the venue within 15-minutes. The final hurdle is to wait for confirmation whether you have been approved for the service. I found out within an hour or so, which was great.
How does it work?
Once you are approved for Global Entry, you simply need to proceed to the dedicated Global Entry kiosks when you first arrive into the United States. At the kiosk, you’ll need to scan your passport and provide your fingerprints. You know that blue customs declaration form that everyone fills out on the aircraft? Well, you don’t need to. As a Global Entry member, you are able to fill out the customs declaration electronically. Once you’ve done that and had your photo taken, you receive a slip which contains all your details. Then all you need to do is collect your luggage from the carousel and proceed along the designated Global Entry line at customs which is where you need to present the slip to a CBP officer. Unless there are any issues, you’re then good to go!
Another feature of Global Entry is that you receive TSA Pre-Check. Which is amazing! It allows you to speed through security without the need to remove your shoes, belt, laptop, liquids or jackets.
Arriving into LAX at almost the same time as several other international flights (including A380’s) is never fun. But this was one time when I was so happy to have Global Entry. There was a dedicated area and several kiosks to use which were all pretty straightforward – just as I explained above. I think the entire process from when I disembarked the aircraft to entering the arrivals area of the terminal was about 15-minutes; which included waiting for my bag. Amazing.
So is Global Entry worth it? Without a doubt.
Are you a member of Global Entry? I’d love to hear about your experiences!