Why Apply for Global Entry?
Any one who has traveled through a US Airport in the past few years knows about TSA PreCheck. It’s the lines that we all wish we were going through when we have to go through security. They get to keep their shoes on, leave their laptops in their bags, and they seem to fly through the line. You have may even thought about finding a way to get those privileges for yourself, but before you make that decision you need to hear about Global Entry. While TSA PreCheck is for domestic traveling, Global Entry gives time saving perks for your international travels. Skip the long lines at customs when you get in and you’ll more often than not still get to use TSA PreCheck in the states. If your home airport is Fort Lauderdale International Airport you might want to consider it. They recently had their British Airways inaugural flight and they’re continuing their expansion projects.
1. Application Fee
The application process starts online and to apply for Global Entry you do have to pay a non-refundable fee of $100. That’s actually not a lot considering they have to do a background check, in person interview, and give you a Global Entry ID card. Plus their fee is only $15 more than the fee to apply for TSA PreCheck. And like we mentioned before it works internationally. You may not have any immediate plans to travel internationally, but your status lasts for 5 years. There are some Citi Bank and American Express credit cards that will waive or give you a rebate for your application fee. Be sure to look into what perks your current credit cards may offer when it comes to Global Entry before you apply.
2. In Person Interview
This is probably the most important step of the entire process. Once you fill out your application you’ll have to wait for them to send you a conditional approval letter. As soon as you receive it sign back in to the website where you applied and schedule your interview. Depending on the time of year such as before the holidays or before summer break, you may have to schedule your appointment months out. These are only done in certain airports so you may have to get a little creative too. We are lucky that Fort Lauderdale International Airport is an official Global Entry interview center and generally appointments are available within 1 or 2 weeks. In contrast, the Tampa International Airport is usually booked 3 months out.
3. Scheduling the Interview
What we recommend is making an appointment at the most convenient airport to you, even if it is 3 months in advance. Now that doesn’t mean you don’t have any other options, but at least you know you are set if you can’t get in earlier. We’ve tried a couple of different tricks to score an earlier appointment and if you can, try these out:
- If you have a flight planned and the airport you’re flying into has an interview center see if you can schedule an appointment for when you arrive or before you depart.
- Check other airports in your area. (i.e. If Fort Lauderdale International Airport is booked, Miami International Airport tends to always have some openings)
- Check back daily until you find a new appointment. Many people have to cancel last minute so this is a great option if your schedule is flexible.
- Walk in. Some interview centers like the one at Orlando Sanford International Airport allows people to wait and see if an appointment opens up that day. If someone is running late or cancels last minute you could be seen that day. It’s not guaranteed, but if you get there a few minutes before they open you might just get lucky.
Once you have your interview scheduled be prepared to bring a print out of your conditional approval letter, proof of US citizenship, and proof of residency (utility bill or driver’s license). The interview takes 15-20 minutes. You’ll be asked some questions regarding your travel history and your application. They will then take your photo and fingerprints. Before you leave the interviewer will let you know if you have been approved.
4. After Approval
Once you are approved it takes 7 to 10 business days to get your card in the mail. In the mean time, you will get a confirmation email with your Known Traveler Number (KTN). This is the number you always want to enter when you are booking a ticket. It’s what alerts the systems that you have been thoroughly screened and are eligible for TSA PreCheck. The good news is you can start using your KTN before you receive your official card. The card needs to be activated within 30 days of receiving it at the same website you used to apply. It comes with a special card case that you want to be sure to use to prevent damage. You’ll only need to have it on your person during international travel.
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