Global Entry - Enrollment Upon Arrival

I interviewed for Global Entry's Enrollment Upon Arrival after my flight from Tahiti (PPT) to SFO, and the wait+interview was around 30 min total and I got my Global Entry card a week later! 

TL;DR - if you want to get Global Entry- instead of waiting months to schedule an interview, you can interview after 1) your application has been conditionally pre-approved, and 2) you fly back from an international destination into an airport listed on the CBP's website. I couldn't schedule a zoom interview for months and didn't want to drive 2 hours from Sac to SF just for the interview- so the enrollment upon arrival was an easy and great alternative! 

What is Global Entry? 

Global Entry is a trusted traveler program affiliated with the US Custom Border Protection (CBP) that expedites the process when you re-enter the US from an international destination and pass through immigration. Instead of waiting in a long line and going through an interview, you walk to a kiosk, declare whatever items you need to, and hand a receipt to a CBP agent. I've gotten through customs in LAX as quickly as 5 minutes.

Bonus- It also comes with TSA pre-check, which usually makes screening for domestic flights a lot faster/easier (i.e. no taking off shoes, belt, ipads out of bags- saving time at the airport!)

Global entry lasts for 5 years, and expires on your birthday of the 5th year. You can renew one year before it expires.

How do you get Global Entry? 

It costs $100 for 5 years - and you can apply at the CBP website. Several credit cards give you statement credit- I had two (CSR and Hilton Aspire- and I can use the extra card to pay for someone's else's application). 

The application essentially asks for personal information- i.e. where you've lived the past 5 years (the one time I am thankful amazon has kept my addresses), where you've traveled internationally the past 5 years, and employment information the past 5 years (with addresses). They also want to know if you've violated any international travel laws. The online process is easy and there is a bar indicating the % of the 5 year length you've covered and if you're missing any time. 

After the online application, you have to interview with a CBP agent. This is where it gets annoying- there is a huge backlog due to COVID, and it might be months before you are able to schedule an interview, although they are now doing zoom. Locations generally are only at larger cities like LA or SF, so if you are far then you have to drive all the way there.

The renewal process is pretty easy - just follow instructions to a T- for example, I wasted a long time on the phone when they told me to put in my name exactly on my passport- and for some reason my first name also had my middle name so I had to include that and then my background info section was accepted.

Who should get Global Entry? 

If you do one international trip a year, or at least 2-3 domestic flights, Global Entry is definitely worth the $100. Even better if you have CSR, Amex Platinum, or some other card that gives you credit. I've probably saved several hours on the way back into the US, and plenty of time with TSA precheck also.

If you have violated some customs law, it might be harder to get approved for global entry. Additionally, if you don't travel internationally as much, global entry is more of a hassle to interview for than TSA precheck- which is more available at domestic airports. 

What is the enrollment upon arrival interview like? 

After landing in SFO, we unfortunately were chosen for random health screening, so when we got to immigration I was 3rd in line for the Enrollment Upon Arrival Interview. It only took 15-20 minutes til my name was called. 

I had a recent address change, so I had to spend a minute getting a utility bill to prove my new address. Otherwise the agent just took my fingerprints and sent me along after 5 minutes of awkward standing around with occasional small talk. From my flight from Tahiti which had less than 100 people, maybe 6 had done the Enrollment Upon Arrival. 

Closing Thoughts 

If you can get preapproved for global entry or renew the year before your global entry expires and have an extra 20-30 min after an international flight, I recommend doing Enrollment Upon Arrival. The process was pretty easy and I got my new card in less than a week! Global Entry has saved me a lot of time and I hope to continue using it!

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