5 things you should know about the global entry process

Before having the nice perk of a $100 statement credit via my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, I never really gave Global Entry much thought. The process just seemed really daunting – having to get a background check, going to the airport for an interview, meaning you’d probably have to take a day off of work, etc. Plus, I don’t travel internationally that much. Maybe 2x a year max, so it didn’t really seem worth the time and money to me. But now that I can get this expedited entry to the U.S. for free (sort of), I decided to follow through with it and here are some of the things I learned:

  1. The online application process takes about 15 minutes. It’s very detailed and obviously asks for a lot of your personal data like SSN, Passport ID, so that they can conduct a background check for you. For all of you CSR Card Members, charge the $100 fee to your account and the statement credit will appear in a few days.
  1. It takes them about two weeks to review your application and give you a conditional approval. A conditional approval means you have to log onto their website, and schedule an in-person appointment. If you’re in the New York City area, your best bets would be at JFK or Newark, where the soonest appointment is two months out. Don’t bother with the Bowling Greene location because the next available appointment is typically five months out. However, check the site often in case someone cancels and if you see it, grab the slot. Don’t even think about it. Blink and it’ll be gone.
  1. Things to bring to the interview:
  • Conditional approval letter
  • Passport
  • Document verifying your address. If you are a U.S. citizen, your driver’s license will suffice.
  1. I had my interview at 6 pm on a Friday for the Newark Airport location. The office is located in the back of the international arrivals by Baggage Claim 1. I got there at about 5:40, and they were just calling the 5:30 slots in. Each slot has about 10 interviewees. They called the 6 pm group in a few minutes after 6. There are about 4 interviews going in at once. Some of the questions they ask you are if you’ve ever been arrested, have you ever been convicted of a crime, etc. Simple and straightforward questions. The entire interview takes no more than 10 minutes.
  1. You can start using your global entry about 2 hours after your interview. The card arrives about a week later. However, you don’t need the card to travel abroad. The status is automatically linked to your passport. The only time you will need the card is when you’re driving across the border (i.e. Canada/Mexico) and you can use the fast track lanes. However, all of the passengers in your car must have global entry in order for you to use that lane.

I would say that the entire end to end process took me about two months. Most of it was just waiting for my interview, which was very quick.

For more details, visit https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry

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