Returning from a fabulous international vacation can be a bit of a let-down. You land back on US soil and make your way to customs. If you're lucky, you get off the plane quickly, skip the bathroom, and hopefully make it to customs somewhere near the front of the line. Otherwise (and yes, this is from personal experience) you can end up in a line several hundred people long where everyone is tired and growing increasingly irritable as the line moves at a veritable crawl towards the small handful of desks that are actually open. A few years ago, as I was standing in line at customs with my family for what seemed like an eternity, I decided that was the last time I would wait in a line like that if I could help it. Longingly, I watched as a handful of people casually walked up the empty lanes marked Global Entry, and less than a minute later they were through the kiosks and on their way down to collect their bags.
Later that night I was online reading about Global Entry. I applied and after my interview I was approved. I have to admit, it was wonderful to get through customs in less than a minute the next time I landed in the U.S.!
Global Entry is for international travel and allows you to move quickly through U.S. Customs and Border Control. You have to apply for the program and all applicants undergo a thorough background check as well as in-person interview. It is still possible to be selected for further screening at customs and if you are found to be in violation of the program's terms (for example, trying to bring prohibited or restricted items into the country) it will result in your Global Entry being revoked - and you will never be allowed to apply for the program again. The entry procedure to the U.S. is conveniently straightforward. Proceed to the lanes marked Global Entry (available at these airports), present your machine readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, scan your fingerprints, and complete a customs declaration. You will then be issued a receipt and may proceed to baggage claim.
Another good thing to know about Global Entry is that its not just available to U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful residents, but also to citizens of Argentina, India, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexican nationals. You could become ineligible for participation in the program if you do any of the following: provide false or incomplete information on the application, have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants, have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country; are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency; are inadmissible to the U.S. under immigration regulation including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or cannot satisfy Customs and Border Protection of your low risk status.
So are you interested in applying for Global Entry? It is actually quite easy to apply, simply create a Trusted Traveler Program account; complete the application, and pay a non-refundable $100 application fee (check if your credit card will reimburse you for this - many do). After your application is completed, it will be reviewed and you will be instructed to schedule an interview if your application is conditionally approved. In my experience, the interview is very straight forward. You will need to bring your valid passport, and one other form if identification such as a drivers license.