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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Shari, who misunderstood how Global Entry schedules expiration dates:
My husband and I applied for Global Entry on the same day in January, 2014. We spent the next few years thoroughly enjoying the benefits of TSA PreCheck domestically and the ease and speediness of returning to the US when traveling abroad.
Toward the end of last year, I realized our five-year membership would be expiring soon, so I logged into my account to see the expiration date. It wasn’t until the end of October, so we had plenty of time! I set a calendar reminder for us to renew in June, figuring that would give us a buffer in case we had to go in for interviews again.
In May, we returned to the US from Mexico, happily walked up to the Global Entry machines and placed our passports on the scanner. Mine worked just as it should, but my husband got an error saying his membership had expired just a couple weeks prior … on his birthday. Oops. When I had quickly logged into my account to check the expiration date, I didn’t realize it was on my actual birthday and that his might be the same.
I immediately renewed my membership after that — we could have done it up to a year before it expired without penalty anyway — and now he’s starting the application process again from scratch. I hope our renewal mishap will be helpful to other readers!
The expiration date for your Global Entry membership appears both in your online account and on the back of your ID card. That date always falls on your birthday (specifically, the birthday following the fifth anniversary of your approval date), so members who enroll at the same time likely won’t be eligible for renewal at the same time. As a result, your Global Entry membership will almost certainly be valid for longer than the specified five years. For example, if you were approved on August 1, 2017 and your birthday is July 29, then your membership wouldn’t expire until July 29, 2023 — just a few days shy of six years from your approval date.
One thing Shari did right was to leave time between when she planned to renew her membership and when it was set to expire. Renewal applications are often approved with no further action required, but you may be asked to come in for another interview. Even if a second interview isn’t necessary, renewing your membership may take time, as the process has been slowed down by increasing enrollment numbers, a backlog from this year’s government shutdown and the reassignment of officials to the southern border. You won’t be penalized for renewing right away, so you might as well jump on it once you’re eligible. Furthermore, most credit cards that offer an application fee credit do so every four years, so you shouldn’t have to wait in order to reuse that benefit.
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Shari a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to email@example.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.
Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!
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