Global Entry® is a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. Members can enter the United States through kiosks at selected airports. You can take advantage of this program, which lasts for five years, for a fee of $100 USD. However, this service is free to DoD Civilians and current Service Members (including Reservists, National Guardsmen, members of the Coast Guard, and students at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, and the U.S. Air Force Academy).
If you have ever flown internationally, you know that there is an average of 300 other passengers disembarking the same airplane. At this same moment, there could be any number of planes also landing with the same amount of passengers on each plane also looking to find the customs station at the same moment. Potentially, you could be waiting in line with 1,000 people for 30-60 minutes. With Global Entry® you can go through the short line and clear customs in a matter of a few minutes.
If you fly internationally only once per year, Global Entry® could save you around 5 hours of wait time for $100. It also enrolls you in TSA Pre ®, which does the same thing for domestic travel. When you sign up for Global Entry® and are flying domestic, you go through a shorter, separate TSA line and do not have to remove laptops, liquids or CPAP machines. With this process you get to speed through the security checkpoints, while other folks must wait 30-60 minutes in line. If you travel domestically two times a year, this should save you another five hours of wait time for a total of 10 saved hours. This makes the cost of $100 a pretty good deal.
I personally signed up for this program online. About one week later, I received an e-mail to set up an appointment to be interviewed by the Border Patrol. They had openings for interviews the next day, which was very convenient. The process was quite easy. I arrived for my appointment, waited for 30 minutes, then had my interview which took only about five minutes. Within the interview process I answered a few questions, then they took my fingerprints electronically (no ink).
At the end they told me I would receive an e-mail within a few days informing me if I was approved or not. However, I received an e-mail that evening stating I was approved. I have to say I am impressed how easy and quick this process is.
Publisher, Military Living® Publications
Reprint from January–February 2016 • Volume 46, No. 1