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Travel tips

How to get through the airport faster with Global Entry

Aug 30, 2021 by The Go Ahead Tours Team

There’s nothing better than sitting on a plane, looking out at the tiny landscapes below, and knowing you’re on your way to a new destination on tour. That’s why we want to get you out of the airport and up in the clouds even faster... and speed you through customs once you land in the U.S., too.

One of our top tips for how to get through an airport quickly is to get Global Entry. Keep reading for everything you need to know about how to sign up for Global Entry, how to renew it, and more.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that makes going through airport security easier and faster for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

When you have Global Entry, you don’t have to wait in long customs lines when you arrive back in the U.S. You can go through the Global Entry, TSA PreCheck®, SENTRI, or NEXUS lanes, and sometimes even automatic kiosks at airports, instead.

traveler rolling luggage across an airport tarmac

What is the difference between Global Entry and TSA PreCheck®?

Both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck® make going through airport security a breeze. TSA PreCheck® provides faster security screening for most flights departing from U.S. airports. You get to go through a separate line, and don’t have to remove your belt, hat, or shoes while going through security. You also get to keep your liquids and electronics in your bag.

Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck®, but also provides a solution for how to get through U.S. customs after traveling internationally.

If you’re a frequent international traveler and meet the requirements, Global Entry is a great option for you. However, if you only plan to travel domestically for the next 4-5 years, TSA PreCheck® is easier to get and all you need.

How does Global Entry work?

To enroll in TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry, you’ll have to go through a background check and screening to make sure you qualify as a “Trusted Traveler.” Once you’re deemed a “Trusted Traveler”, you’ll get something called a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

All you have to do is enter your KTN when you’re booking your flight or one of our guided tours (it’s in the info section fields along with your name and frequent flier information), and you’ll be good to go! When you get your plane ticket, it will have “TSA PreCheck“ or “Global Entry” written right on it, and that’s how the airport will know you’re cleared for expedited security checks and customs review. You’ll feel like a VIP every time.

When you arrive in the U.S, simply head to the Global Entry kiosks at the airport. Then, scan your machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place your fingertips on the fingerprint scanner for verification, and complete a customs declaration. You’ll receive a transaction receipt and be on your way back home!

view of a lake and snow covered mountains from an airplane

How long does it take to go through airport security with Global Entry?

It depends on what airport you’re in, but it could take as little as just three minutes to get through security when you’re departing and as little as ten minutes to get through customs on your way home.

How long does Global Entry last and how much does it cost?

Global Entry costs $100 for five full years—just $20 a year! Many travelers find it worthwhile because of how much less hassle it provides. For comparison, TSA PreCheck® is $85 for five years, making it $17 a year. And it’s included with Global Entry for free!

What are the Global Entry requirements?

If you’re a permanent, lawful U.S. resident or citizen of the U.S, Argentina, India, Colombia, the UK, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, or Mexico, you’re eligible! Canadian citizens and residents are also eligible for Global Entry through the NEXUS program.

You may not be eligible for Global Entry if you:

  • Provide false or incomplete information on the application
  • Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants, including driving under the influence
  • Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations, or laws in any country
  • Are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency
  • Are inadmissible to the U.S. under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation
  • Don’t meet Customs and Border Patrol’s standards of your “low-risk” status for any reason

traveler holding up a passport cover that reads "see the world" over a world map

How long does it take to get Global Entry?

It usually takes around six months from the initial application to be conditionally approved. Then you can schedule an interview. Once you have your interview and provide fingerprints, you’ll be confirmed for Global Entry and get your Known Traveler Number for immediate use. Your official Global Entry card will arrive within a couple of weeks, and you’ll just have to activate it online.

Our experts recommend logging into your Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) dashboard often to check the status. If your application status is “Pending Review,” your application has been received and is being processed!

How do I get Global Entry?

Here’s how to sign up for Global Entry:

  • Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account—even if you’re under 18 years of age. Every traveler must have their own!
  • Log in to your TTP account and complete the Global Entry application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required at this stage.
  • After accepting your completed Global Entry application and fee, CBP will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, your TTP account will tell you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. You’ll also get an email. Remember: each applicant has to schedule a separate interview, and families cannot interview together.

What do I need for my Global Entry interview?

Approved Global Entry program applicants have 365 days from the date of their online approval notice to complete their interview, but our experts recommend trying to book an appointment sooner than later. Some enrollment centers have limited availability with no appointments for months, so it’s crucial to get in there before it’s too late!

Just bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, like your driver’s license or ID card, to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you should bring your machine-readable permanent resident card. The interviewer will ask you a series of questions—like why you want Global Entry, where you work, and where you like to travel. That way, they can confirm you’re a low-risk traveler. The whole interview shouldn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes.


Due to COVID-19, applications for NEXUS and Global Entry will remain active (not expire) for 24 months after receiving the notification of conditional approval, instead of 12 months. This is due to high application volume and a large backlog due to past closures.

If you’re having trouble securing an interview slot, check back often to snag someone’s cancelled appointment. And don’t forget to check the airports! They’re often the least crowded enrollment centers. A final option is to do your interview when you arrive from an international trip at specific locations through the Enrollment on Arrival program. Just follow the signs to CBP officers who will complete your interview!

a women gazing at the coast line of Santorini from a building

How to renew Global Entry

If you’re wondering how to renew Global Entry, just head to your Global Entry dashboard online and select “Renew”. The process is much simpler because it doesn’t typically require an interview. You’ll just have to pay the $100 application fee again. You can do this within 365 days of expiration, which means anytime after the fourth year!

Where have you traveled with Global Entry? Share on our Facebook page!

About the author | The Go Ahead Tours Team
We’re a team of passionate travel experts, dedicated to helping people explore the world. From inspiring stories to tips for an amazing trip, the topics we cover are all about getting you out there and making discoveries.
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