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How to Apply for, Or Renew, a Global Entry Membership

by Brook Wilkinson | April 3, 2024

Global Entry makes your return to the U.S. quick and easy (and it’s getting even easier, with the gradual rollout of a new app that allows you to skip the in-airport kiosks). The Global Entry application process, however, is anything but quick and easy. The interviews required for new applications are hard to come by: Travelers can start the application online but then might have to wait weeks, months, or even longer to land an interview slot. (Similarly, passport renewals were backed up for a while during Covid, but turnaround time has improved; see more on how to renew your passport.)

Here’s what you need to know about applying for, or renewing, a Global Entry membership.

If you’re applying for the first time

The first step is to apply online for a Trusted Traveler account. Once you’re conditionally approved—which may take 90 days or more—you must have an in-person interview. These time slots are often booked months out, but there is a relatively new, much more convenient option called “Enrollment on Arrival.” This means that you can have your interview when passing through customs and immigration after a trip abroad, with no appointment necessary. You must go through the regular immigration line first, and then go to the Global Entry counter for your interview; click here to find out which airports offer “Enrollment on Arrival.”

Customs and Border Protection is also testing a new “Enrollment on Departure” option, which allows conditionally approved applicants to be interviewed without an appointment on their way out of the country. So far, this option is only available at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles Airport.

Before heading off on your trip, consult your Trusted Traveler account for a list of documents to bring to your interview; often, a passport and driver’s license will suffice.

If you’re renewing an active or expired Global Entry membership

You can renew your membership even if it has already expired. Log into your Trusted Traveler account and click Renew, then follow the instructions, answer the questions (eg., countries you’ve traveled to since you first applied, any change of contact info, etc.), and pay the fee. Typically, renewals don’t require another interview.

Don’t bother renewing early: As long as you apply for a renewal before your membership expires, it will remain active for up to two more years after you’ve submitted the application.

You can find more info in the Homeland Security Department’s FAQ.

Global Entry vs. TSA Pre

Think you don’t travel internationally enough to warrant a Global Entry membership, but you want TSA PreCheck for domestic trips? Consider the math: A new, five-year PreCheck membership costs $78-$85, depending on which enrollment provider you use, whereas five years of Global Entry—which includes PreCheck—costs $100. (The Global Entry fee will increase to $120 on October 1, 2024.)

Make your entire trip hassle-free

If you’re the kind of traveler who wants to avoid lines not just for U.S. Customs and Border protection but throughout your trip, the trip planners on our WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts can make that happen not just in the airports—where they can frequently arrange fast-track entry into foreign countries—but at busy museums, monuments, transit hubs, restaurants, etc. They’ll custom-tailor a private itinerary exactly to your trip goals and travel style, get you before- and after-hours access to iconic sights, and mastermind all the trip logistics so you don’t have to. Here’s what it means to get a WOW trip.

START A WOW TRIP

 

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