In early 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched Enrollment on Arrival to help alleviate the problem of long wait times for Global Entry approval. And now, nearly two years later, suffice to say the program has been a success
This is excellent news to so many travelers who’ve traditionally had to schedule requisite in-person interviews months out or drive long distances to brick-and-mortar enrollment centers for interviews.
After applying online and obtaining conditional approval for Global Entry, conditionally approved applicants can now complete their interviews at 42 airports across the United States and 15 abroad. Those abroad will happen at international airports with CBP pre-clearance, including Aruba, Bermuda, several in Canada, Ireland, the Bahamas, and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
All that’s required is a passport and following the sometimes-hard-to-find signage leading you to CBP officers who can conduct the interview. At US airports, you’ll do this interview after arriving from an international flight. At airports abroad, you’ll do your interview upon leaving the international destination and “entering” the Unites States through pre-clearance within the confines of the airport.
Here are some other details you should know about Global Entry and Enrollment on Arrival.
First, what is Global Entry, and how does it work?
Global Entry is a trusted traveler program that allows you to bypass the traditional immigration and customs lines at 75 major airports (60 of which are in the United States and US territories, 15 of which are in airports abroad where clearance into the United States takes place pre-flight). In essence, passengers enter the United States through self-check-in.
Follow the signs to the Global Entry kiosks where you’ll scan your passport, match your fingerprints, and smile for the camera. You’ll fill out your customs information electronically here, so don’t bother with the blue customs form onboard. The kiosk will print a receipt, which you’ll flash to an immigration officer and then present to a customs official after collecting your bags (in a special fast-track line).
With Global Entry, you also get automatic enrollment in TSA Pre-Check (no need for a separate application or application fee), which allows you to use expedited security departure lines with no need to remove shoes, belts, laptops, or liquids. Your Global Entry PASS ID serves as your TSA Pre-Check “Known Traveler Number.”
What’s the initial application process and how much does it cost?
Applying is simple. Start your online application by creating a Trusted Travelers Program (TTP) account. (Every applicant needs a separate account.) Log in, enter all the necessary personal information, and submit a completed application. Pay the nonrefundable $100 fee.
Use the right elite credit card to pay this fee, and Global Entry (and TSA Pre-Check) won’t cost you a cent. You’ll get an automatic statement credit once the charge posts.
The following luxury credit cards offer the $100 Global Entry statement credit every four to five years (as you must renew your PASS ID every five years): Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, Citi Prestige® Card, Mastercard® Black Card™, Mastercard® Gold Card™, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite® Card.
What’s the next step?
Once your application is conditionally approved, you’ll receive a message in your TTP account to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.
Unfortunately, timely appointment slots have never been easy to come by. And they’re even worse at the moment, given the extended government partial shutdown. According to a message on the Department of Homeland Security’s website still posted on December 8, 2019, there is a “substantial backlog of CBP’s Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) applications and renewals” and “conditionally approved Global Entry members should seek to complete their Global Entry interviews without an appointment upon arrival from an international flight at…airports participating in CBP’s Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) program.”
All this means is that 1) you shouldn’t expect to get an interview at a regular enrollment center any month soon and 2) allot a bit more time after your next international flight back to the United States to complete the process. Have your valid passport handy, and follow signs directing you to a CBP waiting area, where officers can call you in for your interview (Pro Tip: If you don’t see the signs, ask a CBP officer where to go. It may take more than one query, however, as all officers are not familiar with the program. It’s also a good idea to look on the CBP’s official Enrollment on Arrival website for more specifics on the locations within the airport.)
Once you start your interview, the CBP officer will ask a few questions, take your photo, and scan your fingerprints. If your background check turns up clean and the interviewer identifies you as a legal, low-security-risk traveler, you’ll receive a nine-digit CBP PASS ID on the spot (valid for five years) and be able to utilize Global Entry immediately.
At which airports can I enroll upon arrival?
Forty-two international airports in the United States and 15 abroad offer enrollment upon arrival. However, hours for the enrollment vary by airport. Check here for the latest information on hours of operation and to find the latest list of airports with Enrollment on Arrival.