Nobody wants to stand in a long line after an even longer international flight. That’s where Global Entry comes in.
This government-run trusted traveler program can be an enormous timesaver. And though it costs $100 for a five-year membership, a growing number of travel rewards credit cards offer credits to cover that fee for free.
Applying for Global Entry is a cinch, but the final step can be a pain: scheduling an interview to finalize enrollment. Between a backup caused by the federal government shutdown last winter and agents now being shifted to the southern border, it can take months to land an interview.
But there’s another way: Enrollment on Arrival. At many international airports, you can wrap up your Global Entry interview and speed through immigration at the same time. Global Entry enrollment on arrival might be the best way to finish your registration process.
Here’s how it works.
All About Global Entry
Global Entry is one of two popular “Trusted Traveler Programs” run by the U.S. government, and it’s the best way to clear immigration quickly after your international flight back to the United States.
The other program is TSA PreCheck, which you can use to skip long lines at airport security before getting on your flight whether you are traveling domestically or internationally.
However, part of the reason why Global Entry is so popular – and powerful – is that it also comes with TSA PreCheck. That means you can skip long lines at security on your way into the airport and as you come back into the country through immigration.
So if you travel internationally just once, that makes Global Entry the easy choice over PreCheck.
The sign-up process itself is quite simple:
- Fill out an application, which takes about 10 minutes
- Pay your $100 application fee (preferably with a credit card that makes it free!)
- Wait for conditional approval, which typically takes under a week but can sometimes take several months
- Finalize your enrollment with an in-person interview
And this is where Enrollment on Arrival comes in.
How Enrollment on Arrival Works
Any applicant who has been conditionally approved for Global Entry can finish the process while clearing U.S. Customs and Border Protection at almost 50 airports nationwide when returning from an international flight. No need to schedule an interview, and you can still skip the normal immigration line while completing your enrollment.
After your flight lands, just make your way to the normal immigration center. There are normally three different options: standard entry by kiosk, Mobile Passport, and Global Entry.
If you’re at one of the 50 participating airports, look for a fourth option: a lane designated for Enrollment on Arrival. Otherwise, ask an agent where you need to go to wrap up the enrollment process.
Wait a few minutes for a Customs and Border Patrol agent to move over to your lane. Once they do, they will call you over, pull up your application, and complete your interview.
You won’t need anything extra with you other than a passport and something to prove your current residency like a driver’s license or a recent utility bill. An agent will ask you a few final questions, scan your fingerprints, and send you on your way.
The approval process may take a few minutes, so the agent might send you through immigration before that has wrapped up. You can check your status online through Global Entry, and should be approved within 24 hours and have your Global Entry Card with your membership number within a week.
Just how long it takes will vary depending on which airport you’re passing through. But with any luck, the whole process should take about 10 minutes or less!
Where You Can Complete Enrollment on Arrival
You won’t find Enrollment on Arrival everywhere, but it’s available at most major U.S. airports with international flights. More recently, the federal government added Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival to several airports abroad – mostly those that offer immigrations and customs preclearance.
- Anchorage, Alaska (ANC)
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Austin (AUS)
- Baltimore (BWI)
- Buffalo (BUF)
- Charlotte (CLT)
- Chicag0-Midway (MDW)
- Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
- Cincinnati (CVG)
- Columbus (CMH)
- Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)
- Denver (DEN)
- Detroit (DTW)
- Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
- Honolulu (HNL)
- Houston-Intercontinental (IAH)
- Houston-Hobby (HOU)
- Kansas City (MCI)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Miami (MIA)
- Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
- Newark (EWR)
- New York City-JFK (JFK)
- New Orleans (MSY)
- Oakland (OAK)
- Orlando (MCO)
- Orlando-Sanford (SFB)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Phoenix (PHX)
- Portland (PDX)
- Sacramento (SMF)
- Salt Lake City (SLC)
- San Antonio (SAT)
- San Diego (SAN)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- San Jose (SJC)
- Santa Ana, California (SNA)
- Seattle (SEA)
- St. Louis (STL)
- Tampa (TPA)
- Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD)
- Aruba (AUA)
- Calgary (YYC)
- Edmonton (YEG)
- Halifax (YYC)
- Montréal (YUL)
- Ottowa (YOW)
- Winnipeg (YWG)
- Toronto (YYZ)
- Vancouver (YVR)
- Dublin (DUB)
- Shannon (SNN)
- Grand Bahamas (FPO)
- Nassau (NAS)
- Abu Dhabi (AUH)
How to Get Global Entry
Global Entry typically costs $100 for a five-year membership. But if you pay, you’re doing it wrong.
That’s because more and more credit cards will cover that application fee through an application reimbursement. And one of our favorites is the Capital One Venture Rewards Card.
It is one of the most cost-effective options on this list as the annual fee on the card is only $95. And the annual fee is even waived in the first year of card membership.
The card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Capital One Venture Miles ($500 value) after spending $3,000 in the first three months of card membership.
Click Here to learn more about the Capital One Venture Card.
Global Entry Enrollment on Arrival is a no brainer. Instead of making an appointment and going all the way to the airport when you’re not traveling, do it when you’re already at the airport – and get through customs and immigration faster in one fell swoop.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.