I recently (yes, it took me this long, despite the fact that I’m coming up on my ten-year anniversary of moving abroad) copped the Global Entry-TSA Pre-Check two-fer this weekend.
We (or, I) at The No-Pants Life will make it my mission to make it easier for all my readership to get the hell outta dodge. Many of my fellow No-Pantsers listed ‘travel’ as one of the main reasons why they went location-independent, so I will share details on anything that makes travel easier.
1) CAN I HAZ GLOBAL ENTRY? U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and citizens of the following countries are eligible for Global Entry membership:
- Citizens of Colombia
- Citizens of United Kingdom
- Citizens of Germany
- Citizens of Panama
- Citizens of Singapore
- Citizens of South Korea
- Citizens of Switzerland
- Mexican nationals
I copy-pasted this from the official U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Website, so you should visit there to get the skinny (and here to apply). People who have (1) been convicted of any criminal offense, or (2) who still have pending charges or outstanding warrants, also may not be eligible.
2) CAN I HAZ GLOBAL ENTRY FOR FREE? YASSSSSSSS.
IF you pay with your CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE. I repeat, IF YOU PAY WITH YOUR CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE. Don’t make me tell you thrice.
The Global Entry application fee costs $100. That’s not an immaterial sum. Even when I was making BigLaw bucks, I would flinch at spending that amount all in one place unless omakase was involved.
If you PAY WITH YOUR CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE, you will get the $100 credited back to you. I SAW THIS ON MY CREDIT CARD STATEMENT. IT WILL REALLY HAPPEN. TRUST ME, AND JUST PAY WITH YOUR CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE.
So don’t be that moron who pays with her debit card. Pay the Global Entry Application Fee with (say it with me) YOUR CHASE SAPPHIRE RESERVE.
3) WHERE IZ ENROLLMENT CENTER? Once you are conditionally approved, you will have to go to a GLOBAL ENTRY ENROLLMENT CENTER to complete the process. The Enrollment Center is where you have your all-important Application Interview, after which you will be issued your Global Entry (and TSA Pre-Check, as the cherry on top).
Most Global Entry Enrollment Centers are located in the hub airports of larger cities, but some will be in town. For example, there are FIVE Global Entry Enrollment Centers in Florida. They are located in the Ft. Lauderdale International Airport, the Miami International Airport, both international airports in Orlando (notice a theme here?!?!?!?!!?), the Tampa International Airport, and an “Enrollment Center” in West Palm Beach that seems adjacent to a cruise embarkation port.
Just for illustrative purposes, there is a single Enrollment Center in North Dakota, but there are currently no Global Entry enrollment centers in South Dakota.
If you live in NYC, your only Enrollment Center is at JFK, Terminal 4 (bleccccchhh). Note that New York also has five enrollment centers.
California weighs in at EIGHT enrollment centers, including at LAX, SFO, and SAN as well as at Long Beach Seaport.
But, everything’s bigger in Texas – the Lone Star State boasts a total of TEN enrollment centers, including at airports AUS, DFW, IAH, and SAT, as well as at the HOUSTON CENTRAL LIBRARY and in various border towns (e.g., Brownsville, Laredo). There are currently no Global Entry enrollment centers in Oklahoma (*insert obligatory OU SUCKS joke here*).
4) WHAT DOES I DO WHEN I GET THERE? Seriously, bring a book. The zenith of efficiency known as the Airport Security Line is only rivaled by the zenith of efficiency known as the Department of Motor Vehicles. When I got to my enrollment center, I found it much more DMV than need for speed.
I scheduled my appointment for 10:15 on a Saturday, figuring that most civilized people would be either at Crossfit class or too bloody hung over to be awake at that time. WROOOOOOONG. By 9:30 (when I arrived, ambitiously early), the center was already half an hour behind in processing applications. So I sat and
let my mind wander played with my iPhone until the Customs and Border Patrol officer called my name.
5) WHAT DO I BRING WITH ME?
- Passport (duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)
- Your Letter of Conditional Approval (it’s the letter-type thing that you get when you are conditionally approved)
- Your Drivers’ License (or anything else, like a utility bill, that can prove your address).
6) WHAT DO THEY ASK?
The interview itself is a short and painless process. The customs officer will ask
(1) Have you ever been convicted of a crime (don’t lie, they know the answer to this already),
(2) Have you ever been denied entry at the U.S. border,
(3) what you do for a living (I said “lawyer”, and I suggest you give the short-short version of your job that you give to people that you don’t really want to make small talk with),
(4) about the purpose of recent international visits, and
(5) to put my fingers and thumbs on some weird machine.
Despite the fact that I lived in Asia for five years and have Mongolia and numerous entries to Mainland China on my visa, the customs officer chose to ask me about my recent trip to Italy (?!). So perhaps it’s perfunctory small-talk.
Here is a useful FlyerTalk thread on the topic.
7) I HAZ GLOBAL ENTRY. WHAT NOW? Your Global Entry AND TSA Pre-Check (once you are approved for Global Entry, you automatically get TSA Pre-Check) are FULLY ACTIVE as soon as you get out of the interview.
A Primer on TSA Pre. If you travel with a laptop (that Netflix won’t binge itself) and think airport floors are a bit squicky, TSA PRE is for you. You can apply for it on its own without applying for Global Entry, but why would you want to? TSA PRE allows you to travel in the short line at Airport Security. Your laptop stays in its case, your shoes on your feet, and your mental health at reasonable levels of neurotypicality.
As soon as your Global Entry is approved, INPUT your KNOWN TRAVELER NUMBER (it’s the big-ass long number on top of your CONDITIONAL APPROVAL LETTER) into all of your Frequent Flier Profiles.
If you have a Frequent Flier Account at any major airline, there will be a place there to save your KNOWN TRAVELER NUMBER in your profile. The following airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check:
- Air Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- Sun Country
- United Airlines
- Virgin America
JUST SO IT’S ALL IN ONE PLACE, here are links where you can log in and input your KNOWN TRAVELER NUMBER in the “Known Traveler Number” sections for your frequent flyer profiles. DON’T FORGET TO SAVE.
8) YOU WILL GET A CARD IN THE MAIL FOR GLOBAL ENTRY. This is NOT NECESSARY for use of the Global Entry machines – just your thumbprint is – but it’s useful all the same. Keep it in your wallet just in case.
Thank you for stopping by! Please don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.