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Jumping Queues At Border Control With Global Entry

Ever stood looking jealously at the line of fellow travellers whisked through US airport security and wondered how you could join them?

You can jump the queues if you are eligible to sign up for Global Entry.

Global Entry makes sense for expats frequently flying in or out of the US – provided you can cut through the red tape.

Read on to find out if you qualify for Global Entry and, if you do, how the scheme works for expats.

What Ís Global Entry?

Global Entry allows passengers with pre-approval to avoid queues by going through special automated security kiosks at specific airports. The free service lasts five years but has a $100 one-off joining fee.

Global Entry Benefits

Airport security can be a black hole that swallows time – but not with Global Entry.

Travellers may have a few minutes to wait here and there, but the program aims to help travellers pass through airports as quickly as possible.

The program works like a supermarket check-out – you can go through a cashier’s lane with the inevitable delay or select the self-serve lane to avoid the queue.

The $100 fee makes Global Entry costly for the occasional trip, but frequent flyers should benefit over time.

Customs & Border Protection promises no processing lines, no paperwork, and to save travellers time.

Who Can Sign Up For Global Entry?

Although Global Entry is designed for Americans, the scheme is open to British travellers and those from some select other countries, including:

  • Argentina
  • Bahrain
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan

Canadians have a similar system, called NEXUS which provides the same ease-of-entry benefits.

You cannot apply for Global Entry if you:

  • Lie on the application form
  • Have a criminal conviction, pending charges or outstanding warrants
  • Have broken customs, immigration or agricultural laws in any country
  • Are under investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency
  • If you have been turned down to buy a firearm
  • Are blocked from entering the US for immigration reasons
  • Cannot satisfy Customs & Border Protection that you are a low-risk person

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Where can expats use Global Entry?

Travellers can choose Global Entry at most US airports with immigration control and some overseas pre-clearance centres, such as Dublin. Expats do not need Global Entry for internal flights within the United States. Instead, they should apply for the TSA Precheck program, which Global Entry includes.

Check if an airport allows Global Entry

Applying For Global Entry

The most tiresome aspect of Global Entry is making an application and waiting for the decision – which can take four to six months to arrive.

If you are a couple or a family, each person must make a separate application with a fee. Anyone aged 18 or over can apply, while children need permission from a parent or guardian.

  1. If you haven’t already done so, join the Trusted Traveller Program
  1. Next, go to the online Global Entry application page.
  1. To do this, you will need a username and password generated online by If you don’t have one, visit there first to create your official ID.
  1. After completing your application and paying the $100 non-refundable fee, your case is reviewed. If the application is accepted, you must schedule a face-to-face interview at a US Customs and Border Protection office from the list online.
  1. Take your passport and another form of identification, such as a driving licence or ID card, to the interview. Expats with a permanent residency card should take it with them, too.

Renewing Global Entry Membership

Travellers can apply to renew their Global Entry membership up to 12 months before the expiry date.

If the renewal is not processed on time, you keep the program membership for up to 24 months after the expiry date.

You can make the application online through the Trusted Traveler Programs website.

  • Select Manage Membership to open the enrolment page
  • Click the blue Renew Application button to open the Personal Information page
  • Update your details
  • Use the application wizard to navigate to the Trusted Traveller Program list and click the box to renew your Global Entry membership. You can renew other program memberships and choose the enrolment centre for your interview at the same time. However, you may not need to attend an interview.
  • Certify the application and pay the fee.

Global Entry FAQ

Do I get Global Entry benefits at airports without kiosks?

Moving to the head-of-the-line with Global Entry is only allowed at airports with Global Entry kiosks.

What if Global Entry kiosks are out of service?

If the Global Entry kiosks need to be fixed, speak to a Customs & Border Protection officer.

If I am a Global Entry member, must I use the service?

You can choose not to use a kiosk and join the standard queue for processing on arrival in the States.

Can a group use Global Entry if only one member is in the program?

No. Only approved Global Entry program members can use the kiosks if you are travelling with family or friends who are not members.

Do I need a Global Entry travel card?

No. You only need your Global Entry travel card if you intend to use lanes for SENTRI or NEXUS when entering the United States.

What is SENTRI?

SENTRI stands for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. SENTRI is a program for speeding up immigration controls for pre-approved passengers entering the US.

What is NEXUS?

NEXUS is the Canadian version of Global Entry, and members of both programs can use the automated kiosks to cut delays at border controls.

Can I join Global Entry on my trip?

No. Approval to join the scheme can take up to six months and must be sought in advance to allow ID and background checks.

Am I limited to specific airlines with Global Entry?

No. The TSA Precheck program dictates members must fly with specific airlines, but with Global Entry, travellers can use any airline.

Is there a Global Entry alternative?

The Mobile Passport Control app lets travellers file passport and customs declarations for free on a smartphone or similar gadget. The app can be downloaded from GooglePlay (Android) or the App Store (Apple).

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