My Experience with Global Entry at JFK

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Although the Global Entry program was introduced in July 2011, it has taken me some time to apply. It is a pretty simple process, but you do have to go to a facility to interview, which delayed me wanting to apply. Well, when I finally got the American Express Business Platinum card I pulled the trigger since one of the perks of the card is that the $100 application fee is reimbursed! Sweet perk of the card, although if you travel internationally often enough the $100 is well worth it!

Global Entry is a program that pre-approves you for expedited clearance when going through US customs using an automated kiosk. To apply for Global Entry it involves the following steps:

  1. Apply Online – Fill out an application and pay the $100 non-refundable application fee
  2. Schedule an Interview – Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a message in your GOES account instructing you to schedule an interview. You then must interview IN PERSON at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.Unfortunately, there are limited centers and interview slots and most are at major airports. If there is not one located in your local airport, look into scheduling a long layover at an airport that has one of these centers!
  3. Interview Determines Your Eligibility – A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will ask you questions, take your photo, and collect biometric information, e.g., scan your fingerprints
  4. Provide Identification – Bring your valid passport(s) and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card to the interview. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card.

So earlier this year I finally applied to the program (my $100 application fee was reimbursed pretty quickly, FYI), and I finally went for the interview earlier this week. You do need to schedule the interview I believe 60 days after being approved, but I kept on changing my interview date for a future time. Ideally, I wanted to go to the center in downtown NYC but those were booked about three months out and I knew picking a random date just wasn’t going to work with my current baby commitments.

I scheduled my interview at JFK (was able to get a time slot with about 4 days advance notice) and it was by far the easiest process ever – although the traffic to and from JFK from NYC was not so fun! My interview was scheduled for 8:30am. The enrollment center is located on the lower level of terminal 4 and I parked in short term parking right across the street (follow the departure signs for short term parking). The enrollment center couldn’t have been more then 50 feet away from my car. I parked at 7:57am, was able to immediately interview, the interview took maybe 3 minutes, and I was back in my car leaving the airport at 8:10am! Parking was $4 for half an hour and well worth the convenience.

All I needed to show was the printed out confirmation letter (make sure you print out the completed form that includes your Global Entry number!) and my passport. I brought my license and a utility bill as well, but it wasn’t needed. The officer asked me a question or two, took my finger prints, and explained the process to me. Very quick and easy!

A few things to know about Global Entry:

  • Everyone in your traveling party must have Global Entry to go through the Global Entry kiosk, including children (even if they are 2 months old)!
  • Global Entry gets you TSA Pre-Check. This typically costs $85, but is included with the Global Entry application. TSA Pre-Check allows you a quicker less painful process of going through security lines at select airports and terminals. You do not have to remove your shoes, belts, jackets, etc. And, children under the age of 12 do not need to be approved, they automatically get access when going through with an approved adult.
  • Once you are approved for Global Entry it lasts 5 years.

You can read more about the Global Entry requirements and go through the application process here. Also, since the application process seems to take some time, do not wait until the 11th hour prior to an international flight. Additionally, here is some information about TSA Pre-Check.

Comments

  1. Global Entry is the best! The last time I came through customs without it the line lasted 2.5 hours–I almost missed my flight. Once I had GE customs took me about 30 seconds! Love it. Not to mention, of course, the great TSA Pre-check benefits. Totally worth the $100 for five years.

  2. I love Global Entry. I had a similar experience – I managed to book my interview at ORD on a day that I was at ORD for travel anyway. Like you, I brought along my passport, DL, utility bill, etc., but only the passport was looked at. I swear most of the time spent in the ‘interview’ was them showing me how to use the kiosk that they had setup in their office.

    My wife was reluctant to spend the money for Global Entry, up until the trip where we spent 90 minutes waiting in line @ customs because 6 planes landed within 30 minutes of each other. She applied for GOES after than, and on our next trip, we spent all of 3 minutes in customs.

    Definitely worth it for the time savings alone – the TSA PreCheck is just icing on the cake.

  3. I’ve heard you can just drop in to a Global Entry enrollment center for your interview, once you have the approved application and letter. Anyone tried that? Showing up without an appointment, just as a walk-in?

    • @Meg Rice – Many do allow you to drop in if they have space available. I have a friend that tried at Newark and it didn’t work, so just depends on the day.

  4. So cool there is a location at Bowling Green! I had no idea! That’s a block away from where I work. I was putting off applying since I didn’t want to make the trek to JFK/EWR.

    • @Ang – Yeah there is a location down in Bowling Green, which is super convenient for many. But, the first available time slot isn’t for months. But if you have no immediate need then it is great!

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