If you’re a frequent international flier, you’re probably already aware of Global Entry, a special program that provides expedited entry into the U.S. for eligible low-risk travelers. But if it’s your first time using Global Entry, you might not know you need to renew your membership every five years. The renewal process is typically straightforward, but mistiming your application could leave you without Global Entry for months — or even longer. Here’s everything you need to know about Global Entry renewal.
What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), part of the Department of Homeland Security. Once you become a Global Entry member, you can use expedited lanes at border crossings, which typically have kiosks that handle entry. It costs $100 (but many credit cards pay for it as one of their perks), plus it includes a TSA PreCheck membership.
What are the Global Entry benefits?
The main benefit of Global Entry is expedited entry into the U.S. via dedicated lanes at border crossings, primarily at U.S. airports. A secondary benefit is that your Global Entry ID card counts as a Real ID.
Who is eligible for Global Entry?
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents are eligible for Global Entry, as well as citizens of the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
Where can I use Global Entry?
Global Entry kiosks can typically be found at most major international airports, as well as select seaports. You can also use Global Entry in SENTRI and NEXUS lanes for entering the U.S. from Mexico and Canada, respectively — but for SENTRI, you must first have your car inspected by CBP, which costs $42.
How long does it take to get approved for Global Entry?
At the time of publication, Global Entry processing times range from four to six months, and that does not include the time it takes to secure an interview appointment. Appointments are limited, so it may take weeks or even months to get one.
“If you’re struggling to get through that final interview stage due to the lack of appointments, check out the Enrollment on Arrival program. It’s a great workaround if you’re coming back to the U.S. from abroad and allows you to interview with an agent while going through immigration at most major U.S. airports,” Kristin Jaffe, founder of Winkaffe Global Travel, tells Travel + Leisure. “You won’t skip the lines on that entry, but you’ll get your interview done and be set for next time.”
What are the steps for renewing Global Entry?
- Log into your Trusted Traveler Program account at ttp.dhs.gov.
- Select “renew” under the Global Entry program on your dashboard.
- Answer the questions, fill out your payment info, and submit your application.
- If you’re applying before your expiration date, your Global Entry membership will be valid for 24 months from the time of submission, even if your expiration date is before the end of that period.
- If you’re applying after your expiration date, you will not receive Global Entry benefits as you await approval.
- After you receive conditional approval, you may need to schedule an interview with CBP. Sometimes, you’ll need to do an in-person interview, while select applicants may be able to do this virtually.
- Following your interview, you will be fully approved, and your new Global Entry card will be mailed to your address. Be sure to activate your new Global Entry membership online once you’re approved.
When should you renew Global Entry?
You become eligible to renew Global Entry one year from your membership’s date of expiration, and that’s exactly when you should begin the reapproval process, which can take months. If you submit your renewal application before your membership expires, you can continue to use Global Entry for 24 months from that date, even if the expiration falls during that period. This helps mitigate the lengthy approval process.
“The best advice I can give is to get the ball rolling one year before it expires,” says Jaffe. “It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with how unpredictable processing times can be. This way, you won’t have a gap in your traveler status.”
If you wait too long, your Global Entry membership may lapse, and you’ll find yourself relegated to the regular immigration line — and the regular security line without TSA PreCheck. “I found myself on a couple of trips without TSA PreCheck or Global Entry — quite the downer after enjoying these perks for years,” says Jaffe. “It’s a real game-changer to breeze through security and customs, and once you’ve had a taste of it, you really feel the difference when it’s missing.”
How long does it take to get approved for Global Entry renewal?
The processing times for conditional approval vary greatly, from as little as 24 hours to a full year — or perhaps even longer.
For example, my own renewal process spanned about five weeks, including the time it took to schedule and complete an interview (I was able to do mine virtually.) However, my husband’s renewal was fully approved within one day, and he didn’t have to interview at all.
Then, there’s the case of travel expert and editor Laura Ratliff, former senior editorial director at TripSavvy, who has been in Global Entry renewal purgatory for more than 11 months. “I applied for my Global Entry renewal on Dec. 10, 2022, which was the day it expired,” she says. Since then, her application has been stagnant. “I’ve contacted the CBP a few times to check on the status, but I’ve been told I need to wait longer each time. When I hit around 10 months, I was told not to call until it had been a year,” Ratliff adds. In the meantime, she has reached out to her local congresswoman to investigate what’s happening with her application.
If you end up without Global Entry, you still have options for expedited entry into the U.S.: Mobile Passport Control. This allows you to fill out your customs declaration via an app, then use a dedicated lane at the border. In some cases, the Mobile Passport line might even be faster than Global Entry.
Can you add SENTRI to Global Entry?
You can use SENTRI lanes when entering the U.S. from Mexico with Global Entry, but you must first have your vehicle inspected by and registered with CBP. Make an appointment online at ttp.dhs.gov — the fee is $42.