Last month, when I returned from an overseas trip, it took me less than three minutes to go through the immigration line as I re-entered the United States.
As a “Trusted Travel” with a Global Entry membership, I was able to use a dedicated line for those with Global Entry, used a dedicated passport scanner that asked me four questions, took my picture, and spit out a form with my pictures and answers. I then went through a dedicated line where the Border Patrol Agent took my form and waved me through. It was fast, simple, and easy!
If you are a frequent traveler, or even a semi-frequent one, it is worth the cost and the time to become a Trusted Traveler.
Most people have heard of TSA Pre✓® which enables people to use a dedicated line (which is usually much shorter than the standard line) for airport security and you don't need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets. Going through security with TSA Pre✓® is much quicker with less hassle and usually you are done with security in five minutes or less.
To apply for TSA Pre✓® you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). You can enroll online at https://www.tsa.gov/precheck which at the end of filling out forms you will be able to schedule an in-person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting. The interview usually takes only 10 minutes and are available at international airports or at US border crossings. The cost is $85 and the TSA Pre✓® membership lasts for five years.
When traveling with children ages 12 and under, with an eligible parent or guardian with a TSA Pre✓® indicator on their boarding pass, the children can participate in expedited screening. Family members 13 and older must go through standard security lanes. Children 13 and older may apply for their own TSA Pre✓® membership.
If you travel internationally, it costs only $15 more for the five year Global Entry membership, which allows you all the benefits of TSA Pre✓® as well as an expedited return into the US. To apply for Global Entry you need to:
- Create a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) account. Regardless of your age, you must have your own TTP account. Begin at https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/
- Log in to your TTP account and complete the application. A $100 non-refundable fee is required with each completed application.
- After accepting your completed application and fee, Custom and Border Protection (CPB) will review your application. If your application is conditionally approved, then your application account will instruct you to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. These centers are at International Airports or at Border Crossings into the US.
- You will need to bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your machine readable permanent resident card.
Membership benefits for the Global entry programs do not extend to traveling companions, including minors. Therefore, any child, regardless of age, must be a member to use Global Entry Program. The application process is the same, except a parent or legal guardian must be present at the time of the child's required interview at an enrollment center. Only a passport is required for a minor. Proof of address of the parent or legal guardian will be needed.
If you make one international trip every year, a Global Entry membership is worth the money as it makes re-entry into the US much quicker AND you enjoy all the benefits of TSA Pre✓®. If you make two or more trips a year, you should definitely have Global Entry.
Being a Trusted Traveler has made my travels much less exasperating.
About the Author: Scott is the IDEAS Director of Project Operations for Asia and travels internationally multiple times per year. To check out other blog posts by Scott, please see: Technology to Help You Learn a New Language.