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I Forgot to Update My Global Entry After Getting a New Passport — Here's What Not to Do

July 27, 2019
5 min read
I Forgot to Update My Global Entry After Getting a New Passport — Here's What Not to Do
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Today's mistake story comes courtesy of yours truly, in an event that occurred mere hours ago (as I write). I was fresh-off Cathay Pacific's tremendously-long flight from Hong Kong (HKG) Chicago-O'Hare (ORD), and I was beat, looking forward to getting to my hotel and already wishing I was asleep.

I had just renewed my passport last month, and this was my first trip out of the country since, so coming back through immigration with a different passport wasn't something I'd done before.

It wasn't until I was anxiously plodding through the aircraft on my way out that the thought suddenly struck me: Did I need to update my Global Entry? My mind flashed back to the dozen different GE kiosks I've been to, all of which (obviously) required that I insert my passport and give my fingerprints.

Frantic searching revealed that, yes, you do need to update your information after receiving a new passport.

Well, shoot.

At that point it was too late for me to do anything, and I trudged along miserably, resigned to my fate in the regular queue (which was growing exponentially, like always). However, as a last ditch effort, I thought "Well, may as well give it a shot," thinking that in the worst-case scenario, someone might be able to help me. I headed over to the Global Entry kiosk with trepidation.

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To my shock and intense gratitude, my passport was accepted, my fingers were scanned and my photo was taken — with my jaw dropped and face stunned.

Later research showed that there are anecdotal reports of this working, though the Customs and Border Patrol website specifically states this about renewed passports:

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Your Trusted Traveler Program membership date is not dependent on the passport expiration date. Membership will remain valid and active, even if the passport expires. However, you will not be able to use your membership at kiosks and land crossings until you update your new passport in the system.
If you are an approved Trusted Traveler (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST) member, you may update certain documents through the TTP website. Once logged in to the TTP website, click on Update Documents on the right hand side of the Dashboard page. Please note this option will not be available if you have a pending application. Follow the prompts to update your document.
If you are not a member yet, this information can be updated at your enrollment interview. Please be sure to inform the CBP officer of the changes that need to be made.

So while it worked for me this trip, it may have also been a one-time fluke. Don't be like me — here's what to do if you're caught in the same situation.

Really though, what are you waiting for? Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Really though, what are you waiting for? (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

Had I been thinking just a little bit more clearly, there are a few different steps I could have taken to make certain that I could get through immigration without a hitch.

Option 1

First, I could have just stepped off to the side and updated my account right then and there. The process to do so is easy, though the website to access your account changed in 2017, so if you need to re-register, you can check out our guide on how to do so here.

Otherwise, head over to the Trusted Traveler Program website, log in and navigate to the right-hand side, where it says 'Update Documents.' You'll need to change the passport number, issuance date and expiration date, but that's it. Simply save and voilà! You should be good to go.

Option 2

If, like me, you have also conveniently forgotten all your log-in information (or never had any in the first place), there's another option available. If you happen to be flying into one of the 49 airports that currently offer enrollment on arrival services (excluding LAX), you should be able to head there instead to have your information updated.

It might take a few extra minutes, but luckily this is a once-per-passport event. In any case, it's a much better option than crossing your fingers and hoping no one at passport control notices your information is incorrect.

A Better Solution

Instead of sweating this, consider putting a reminder in your calendar. As soon as you start the process for getting a new passport, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have a new Trusted Traveler Profile set up. Follow these steps if you haven't set one up.
  2. Copy the link to the Trusted Traveler Profile.
  3. Open up your favorite calendar program, create a new calendar invite ("CHANGE PASSPORT IN TTP" works as an event name) and paste the above link you copied.
  4. Set the reminder for 1-2 months out.

If you still don't have the new passport by then, snooze it for a week, and continue doing so until you have the new passport in hand. Then simply login and follow Option 1 above.

Bottom Line

Though I lucked out this time and managed to make it through without issue, if things had gone awry I would have been in serious trouble (or at least seriously delayed). Do yourself a favor and take care of your information before you fly- or if you don't, at least before you hit the kiosks.

Featured image by Washington Post/Getty Images