A First-Ever Global Entry on Departure Program Could Be a Game-Changer

Currently being offered at one U.S. airport, the new Enrollment on Departure program speeds up the process of getting a coveted Global Entry membership.

The exterior of Washington Dulles airport at night

Flying internationally from Washington Dulles anytime soon? You could be in luck.

Photo by Cyrus Crossan/Unsplash

Once you’re enrolled in the customs-expediting service Global Entry, it’s great. But travelers have long bemoaned how long it takes to nab a coveted Global Entry interview—applicants commonly have to wait weeks or months to wrap up the process (the current processing time is estimated to be four to six months).

But a new program recently launched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP, the government agency that oversees Global Entry) could help expedite the process. It’s called Enrollment on Departure. Here’s how it works.

How Global Entry Enrollment on Departure works

For now, the first-ever Global Entry Enrollment on Departure program is available only in Washington, D.C.'s Dulles International Airport. The Global Entry Enrollment on Departure office is currently located inside the B concourse at gate B41 and is open from noon to 8 p.m. daily. No appointment is needed.

“Conditionally approved applicants to CBP’s trusted traveler program can now complete their interviews before boarding a flight leaving the United States,” Marc Calixte, area port director for CBP in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. “This is great news for those trying to schedule interviews to complete their membership.”

“Conditionally approved” travelers means those whose application and background checks have been cleared. They will need to come armed with their passport and a physical document showing proof of residence. The latter can include a driver’s license, a mortgage or rental payment statement, a utility bill, or any other paperwork that shows a current address (though proof of residence isn’t required for minors). They’ll also need to show their airline ticket for their international flight—the program isn’t currently available to passengers departing Dulles on domestic flights.

According to CBP, travelers should “allow ample time to complete this interview process before their international flight departs.”

Whether or not Enrollment on Departure will be expanding to other U.S. airports will depend on how well it works in the nation’s capital. Currently, CBP has no definite plans to grow the initiative beyond D.C., but that could change.

If you’re not traveling out of D.C. on your global exploits, your other options include scheduling an interview at an enrollment center (here, too, there’s a clever way to nab an interview in less time) or participating in Global Entry’s Enrollment on Arrival option. The latter option operates just like Enrollment on Departure, but it’s for those coming back into the country and is available at more than 50 airports across the United States.

Why get Global Entry

For the uninitiated, Global Entry allows participants to take advantage of expedited passport screenings at 77 airports across the United States and abroad. It typically allows travelers to breeze through security in a matter of minutes, bypassing the often long lines of passengers arriving on international flights who are not enrolled in the program.

It costs $100 to apply for Global Entry, and if approved, your membership is good for five years. Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck as a benefit (another trusted traveler program that allows pre-approved fliers to use an expedited TSA security line at most U.S. airports and keep their shoes on and their personal electronic devices in their bags). TSA PreCheck alone usually costs $78 for a five-year membership. A handful of credit cards will waive the Global Entry fee as a cardholder perk.

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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