Global Entry, Nexus and PreCheck: A Comprehensive Guide and FAQ

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We get many reader questions about Global Entry. While it’s not a complicated program, there are a lot of ins and outs, tips, and sweet spots you should know about it. Now you can refer back to our TPG Offical Global Entry Guide for A to Z coverage of Global Entry, including information on Nexus and Pre-Check. 

Global Entry speeds up the customs process
Global Entry speeds up the customs process.

Global Entry: What It Is and How It Works

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that expedites clearance for pre-approved, low-risk international travelers upon arrival in the United States. Basically, it allows you to pass through customs quickly (since you are “pre-approved”) and avoid long wait times, paperwork and extra hassle.

Once you arrive at an airport after an international trip, you are “fast tracked” to a Global Entry kiosk. You don’t have to fill out any customs forms on the plane or afterwards, you just insert your passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues you a transaction receipt, which you pass to an officer, and voila-you’re on your way!

Global Entry is valid for five years (after that you can renew it) and costs $100.

You will get a Global Entry card once you are approved
You will get a Global Entry card once you are approved.

Once you get your Global Entry card with your Trusted Traveler number, you can then log into your frequent flyer accounts and enter that information into your profile under “Known Traveler ID.” This should automatically register you for TSA PreCheck on reservations you make on participating airlines when you fly through airports that have PreCheck.

Who Can Get Global Entry

The following people are eligible for Global Entry:

  • U.S. citizens
  • lawful permanent residents
  • Dutch citizens
  • South Korean citizens
  • Mexican nationals
  • Canadian citizens and residents have Global Entry Benefits if they are registered in the NEXUS program (more on NEXUS later)

If you are under 18, you must have parental approval to get Global Entry. Children and family members traveling with those who already have Global Entry must ALSO have Global Entry if they want to pass through the expedited customs process. So, if you have a child who does not have Global Entry, technically they cannot go through with you, and will need to get their own Global Entry.

Reasons Why You Could Be Denied Global Entry

  • If there is false or incomplete information on the application
  • Criminal convictions/pending criminal charges/outstanding warrants
  • Violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country
  • Subject to an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency
  • Inadmissibility to the United States under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation
  • Cannot prove low-risk status

How To Get Global Entry

1. Apply online and pay the $100 application fee. This fee is non-refundable, so if you think you may get denied, don’t waste your money. The application process takes about 10 minutes, and you should receive email confirmation shortly after.

2. Schedule An Interview. Within about a week to 10 days (though it can be as little as 1-2 days) you should receive an email that lets you know you are conditionally approved. You must then log back into your GOES account and select an appointment time at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.

List of Enrollment Centers:

  • Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (ABQ)
  • Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)
  • Atlanta Port Office (Customs House)
  • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)  Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal
  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)
  • Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport International E Pier Arrivals
  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS) Terminal E – Arrivals
  • Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) Terminal 5
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) Terminal D
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) North Terminal
  • Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Houston City Hall Visitor Center
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) Terminal E
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS) Terminal 3
  • Long Beach Seaport
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Tom Bradley International Terminal
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP) Terminal 2
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Terminal B International Arrivals Area
  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal Four, Main Lobby next to baggage reclaim
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) Terminal A West
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX)
  • Portland International Airport (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) International Arrivals Level
  • San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
  • Washington, DC Enrollment Center
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)  Main Terminal Ground Floor International Arrivals

Note: For a complete list of Global Entry Enrollment Centers, click here.

3. Do Your Interview. At one of the enrollment centers, a U.S. Customs Border Protection officer will ask you questions, take your photo, and scan your fingerprints. Make sure to bring your passport and another valid form of ID like a drivers license. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card. This interview is usually quick and mostly to teach you how to use the kiosk.

How To Get Global Entry Refunded/Reimbursed

If you have the Amex Platinum, Mercedex-Benz Platinum or Business Platinum (or Centurion) cards, you can get the fee for Global Entry refunded to you as a statement credit. Even better, the fee is also refunded to additional cardholders, and the annual fee for up to three additional Platinum cardholders is just $175 ($175 per cardholder after that), so if just two of your friends/family members gets Global Entry, you’ll earn that fee back and then some. Amex covers the Global Entry fee once per cardholder every five years, so that means renewals are reimbursed as well-it’s not just a one time deal! Note: if you already have Global Entry, you can pay the fee for anyone you know and it will get reimbursed as long as you use your eligible card- I recently tried that with a friend and I got the rebate a day later- it does not appear that they cross-reference the name.

Holders of the new Citi Prestige card can also get the fee refunded. Finally, eligible Global Services, MileagePlus Premier 1K and MileagePlus Premier Platinum members will also be refunded for Global Entry.

Finally, if you are a Delta Diamond Medallion or a Delta Platinum Medallion member you can select Global Entry as one of your Choice Benefits (two $100 vouchers for Diamond, one $100 voucher for Platinum).

How To Get Around The Backlog For Global Entry Interviews

As this program increases in popularity, another problem arises: long wait times for Global Entry interviews. If they’ve given you an interview date that is well into the future, you have other options:

1. Try another interview center. Some are more backlogged than others, so if you can tack a Global Entry appointment on to a trip through a different airport or center, try it.

2. Check for cancellations. These occur more often than you might think due to changing travel plans and for other reasons, so if you check the website continually, you may be able to score a recently opened slot.

3. Walk In. This isn’t “officially” allowed, and some enrollment centers will turn you away. However, some may just let you have the interview. If you have to be near one of these centers for travel, pop in, flash a smile and politely ask if it’s possible. If someone else with an appointment hasn’t shown up due to travel delays or rescheduling, you may just get lucky.

What To Do If You Get A New Passport

Global Entry members can update their passport information through their GOES account. However, if the passport update involves a name change, you must visit a Global Entry enrollment center to update your information.

How To Renew Global Entry

For most renewals another interview is not necessary. Submit your renewal application and fee online, and then check your GOES account for updates in case any other action is necessary to complete the process. You will receive an email when your membership status changes.

Kiosks are available in many airports, some even outside the US
Kiosks are available in many airports, even some outside the US.

Where You Can Use Global Entry Inside and Outside Of The US

There are Global Entry kiosks at a over 30 airports within the US and at most major Canadian airports.

There are also Global Entry checkpoints at US border crossings in US territories such as Puerto Rico’s San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU) or the Guam International Airport (GUM).

Global Entry members may use the Smartgate system when entering Australia without registration. Global Entry kiosks are now available at Ireland’s Shannon and Dublin airports. The Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch airports in New Zealand also have Global Entry lanes.

US Citizens may apply for the Dutch Privium program, the Korean SES program, or the Mexican Viajero Confiable program for expedited entry into those countries, as they all have a partnership with Global Entry (other fees and interviews may be required).

Everything You Need To Know About Nexus

NEXUS is the Canadian version of Global Entry. The program allows pre-screened travelers expedited customs processing by United States and Canadian officials in dedicated processing lanes at specific northern border ports of entry, at NEXUS kiosks, Canadian pre-clearance airports, and at marine reporting locations.

NEXUS applicants must complete an application, pay a fee and have an interview. The application process if fairly similar to that of Global Entry. You can apply online via the CBP Global On-Line Enrollment System (GOES) Web site. Qualified applicants must then travel to a NEXUS Enrollment Center for an interview. If they are approved for the program at that time, a photo identification card will be mailed to them in 7-10 business days.

Advantages: NEXUS is more economical than Global Entry because it only costs $50 per adult and children are FREE until they turn 18. With Nexus you get all the benefits of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.

Disadvantages: There are only a few US enrollment centers where you can have a NEXUS interview. They are all located in northern areas of the US, like Seattle, Montana, upstate New York, and Maine. There are also enrollment centers in Canada. If you live in Florida or Texas, this isn’t an ideal option unless you travel to Canada or the Northern US often. Also, Amex does NOT reimburse you for NEXUS.

TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck Basics

TSA PreCheck is an an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved travelers who volunteer personal information in advance to leave on their shoes, belts and light outerwear, keep their laptops in their bags, and go through (supposedly) faster/shorter security lines.

You can apply online and then make an appointment at one of the Enrollment Centers around the country. Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or Lawful Permanent Resident, and cannot have been convicted of certain crimes. If an applicant has a record of any of the crimes identified in the eligibility requirements, it may be better not to apply, as the application fee of $85 is nonrefundable.

After completing enrollment, successful applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) via mail after approximately 2-3 weeks, or may check online after five business days. You can enter this number into  ‘Known Traveler Number’ field when booking travel reservations on any of the ten participating airlines. The KTN can also be added when booking reservations online via a participating airline website, by phone to the airline reservation center, or with the travel management company making reservations. Additionally, the KTN can be entered in participating airline frequent flyer profiles, where it will be stored for future reservations. You can use PreCheck lines at about 100 airports in the US.

You can also obtain the KTN number as mentioned above by having Global Entry. In addition, you can sometimes get PreCheck with elite status on many airlines. PreCheck allows you to be expedited not only for domestic flights, but also for international flights in participating airports.

One thing to note is that adults that can use PreCheck to go through security with children 12 and under, even if the child does not qualify for PreCheck on his or her own.

Paying for Global Entry beats waiting in lines
Paying for Global Entry beats waiting in lines.

Worth It?

As an avid international traveler, I absolutely love having Global Entry. If you are business traveler or already have one of the credit cards that reimburses you for Global Entry, it’s a no-brainer.

If you are considering paying the $85 fee for PreCheck, you may as well just pay the extra $15 for both Global Entry and PreCheck, even if you aren’t planning to travel internationally-you never know. Furthermore, lately there has been much criticism of PreCheck lines being overcrowded (sometimes longer than the regular security line), so that $85 PreCheck fee might not pay off, but in my experience the Pre-Check line usually allows me to get through security within 5 minutes of entering the airport (LaGuardia Delta terminal has been the only airport that had a chaotic TSA-Precheck line).

Finally, one last consideration is your travel partners. If you travel alone, or if you often travel with a spouse (friend, business partner, etc.) and you both want to do Global Entry, it works perfectly. However, if you consistently travel with people who don’t have Global Entry, you’ll have to wait for them anyway, so it may not be worth signing up.

Although I highly recommend getting Global Entry (I would suggest this over just getting PreCheck), you should calculate whether the $100 fee offers enough value to your amount and style of travel.

Please feel free to add any questions or comments related to your experience with Global Entry or TSA Precheck in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

TSA PreCheck Open Application and Enrollment Begins

TSA PreCheck Opens 60 New Enrollment Centers

Ways To Get Global Entry For Free

12 Things You Didn’t Know About Global Entry

Amex Platinum Global Entry Reimbursement

My Experience Getting Refunded For Global Entry

How Can You Be Sure To Get TSA PreCheck With Global Entry

Is It Better To Pay $85 For PreCheck Or $100 For Global Entry

Is TSA PreCheck The New Slow Lane?

Getting Around The Global Entry Backlog

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