Get Global Entry Faster, Thanks to This Hack

There’s a quick way around the drawn-out, delayed Global Entry application process. Do it at the airport when you land.

Global entry card and a U.S. passport

Global Entry on Arrival is one way to speed up the application process.

Photo by Shutterstock

After a long day of travel, possibly spent navigating multiple layovers or crammed into a middle seat, the last thing you want to do is wait hours in a painfully long customs line.

That’s where Global Entry comes in handy. Those with Global Entry can access a separate line where they can breeze through customs in minutes. It’s a typically faster process than the regular customs line, which can sometimes take hours.

Getting Global Entry includes submitting an application, paying the $100 fee (free with some credit cards), undergoing a background check, and sitting through an in-person interview after a preliminary approval. But due to high demand for travel and a backlog of interviews following a seven-month pandemic scheduling pause, the current processing time for Global Entry is taking up to 18 months. One of the biggest holdups is securing an interview.

However, if travelers have filed an application, fee, and background check and have received preliminary approval—and they have international travel coming up—they can complete Global Entry on Arrival. Through this program, travelers could alternatively complete Global Entry on Arrival, a program that allows travelers returning to the United States from an international trip to complete their interview with Customs and Border Control in select airports, no appointment needed. Here’s how it works:

What do I need to do to complete Global Entry on Arrival?

To complete Global Entry on Arrival, you’ll need a few documents, including:

  • A valid U.S. passport (if you have more than one passport, bring those as well)
  • A document that provides evidence of residency (which can be your driver’s license if the address is current, a mortgage statement, rental payment statement, utility bill, etc.)

Note: Minors aren’t required to have proof of residency.

Once you arrive at an airport that offers Global Entry on Arrival (more on that below), make your way to the regular immigration center, where there are typically three options for going through customs: the customary entry kiosk, Mobile Passport, and Global Entry. Here you’ll need to look for signage that directs you to an Enrollment on Arrival office. If you don’t see any signs that indicate where you should go, ask an agent in the Global Entry line where you can complete your interview. They might be able to help you themselves or will call over another agent who can finish the process.

During the interview, the agent will ask a few questions (such as what countries you’ve visited recently and your previous addresses) and take your fingerprints. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, and you should receive your Global Entry Card, which includes your membership number, in about a week.

What airports offer Global Entry on Arrival?

Dozens of international airports in the U.S. offer Global Entry on Arrival, as do a handful of international destinations with preclearance facilities. Here’s the current list of airports with Global Entry on Arrival:

  • Austin-Bergstrom (AUS)
  • Abu Dhabi (AUH)
  • Baltimore/Washington (MWI)
  • Bermuda L.F. Wade (BDA)
  • Boston Logan (BOS)
  • Buffalo Niagara (BUF)
  • Calgary (YYC)
  • Charlotte Douglas (CLT)
  • Chicago Midway (MDW)
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG)
  • Cleveland Hopkins (CLE)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Detroit Metropolitan (DTW)
  • Dublin (DUB)
  • Edmonton (YEG)
  • Fairbanks (FAI)
  • Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood (FLL)
  • Fresno Yosemite (FAT)
  • George Bush Intercontinental, Houston (IAH)
  • Halifax (YHZ)
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • John F. Kennedy, New York (JFK)
  • John Glenn Columbus (CMH)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Louis Armstrong New Orleans (MSY)
  • Metropolitan Oakland (OAK)
  • McCarran, Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Minneapolis–St. Paul (MSP)
  • Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau (YUL)
  • Luis Muñoz Marin, San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU)
  • Lynden Pindling, Nassau, Bahamas (NAS)
  • Newark Liberty (EWR)
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose (SJC)
  • O’Hare, Chicago (ORD)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Orlando Sanford (SFB)
  • Ottawa (YOW)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • Raleigh-Durham (RDU)
  • Reina Beatrix, Aruba (AUA)
  • Reno-Tahoe (RNO)
  • Sacramento (SMF)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • San Antonio (SAT)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle Tacoma (SEA)
  • Shannon, Ireland (SNN)
  • St. Louis Lambert (STL)
  • Tampa (TPA)
  • Ted Stevens Anchorage (ANC)
  • Toronto Pearson (YYZ)
  • Vancouver (YVR)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
  • William P. Hobby, Houston (HOU)
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong (YWG)

Is Global Entry on Arrival worth doing?

If you’re conditionally approved for Global Entry and will soon be returning from an international trip, it’s worth taking advantage of the interview on-arrival process. It’s quick, easy, doesn’t require an appointment, and will grant you Global Entry status for five years.

However, if you don’t have an international trip in the works but do have domestic ones planned, it may be worth trying to schedule an interview (many of which are held at airports) as Global Entry comes with TSA PreCheck, another Trusted Traveler Program that provides expedited TSA screening for domestic flights.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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