11 Top Pros & Cons of Global Entry

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What is the #1 travel hell for regular flyers? It’s got to be long wait times at airport security and customs.

If you’re like me, it’s the one thing which makes regular travel a bit more stressful than it needs to be. When I travelled to the US as a performer, we hoped to be routed through a quieter airport (not Miami or JFK) to experience faster passport control and customs.

Step forward, Global Entry. Global Entry is a program offered by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows pre-approved, low-risk travellers to access speedy clearance upon arrival into the United States. Now that I travel solo much more, it gets me through the airport much faster.

Honestly, I didn’t think it could be quite that good. But it’s a lifesaver. After a long flight to the US from Europe, I’ve been through passport control and customs in as little as 10 minutes. And with a single price for 5 years of use, I think it’s worth it.

The faster processing offered by this so-called trusted traveler program also applies at 15 US Pre-clearance locations. That includes locations I fly through frequently including Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport and 9 locations in Canada.

So why should you sign up? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros of Global Entry

Here are some Global Entry Benefits:

  1. Expedited Entry: With Global Entry, travellers can avoid long lines and queues at U.S. immigration checkpoints, by approaching the Global Entry kiosks on arrival, saving time and reducing your journey time.
  2. TSA PreCheck: Global Entry members are automatically enrolled in TSA PreCheck, which lets them skip the busier security line (usually), use an expedited screening process.
  3. Easy Re-entry: When returning to the United States after international travel, Global Entry members can use the automatic kiosks to complete their declaration and customs forms, speeding up the process of re-entering the USA.
  4. Wider Use: Global Entry is not just for entry into the United States. It CAN provide expedited entry into other countries, such as Canada and Mexico, that have special agreements with the United States. (Some agents in Canada & Mexico will not allow expedited entry without the Global Entry card, which is not provided to all Global Entry members).
  5. Security: The Global Entry program includes an extensive background check and interview process, which enhances security and reduces the risk of terrorism and other crimes.
  6. Cost-effective: The application fee for Global Entry is only $100 for five years, which is a relatively small price to pay for the convenience and benefits it provides.

Cons of Global Entry

While there are many benefits to using Global Entry, there a few downsides to consider:

  1. Application Process: The Global Entry application process can take a long time and requires a background check and Global Entry interview (either via Global Entry enrolment at a pre-approved entry enrollment center or at some airports – read more here). Some applicants mightn’t be approved for Global Entry due to their background, criminal record, or other factors.
  2. Limited Availability: While it’s widely used, Global Entry might not available at all U.S. ports of entry, meaning some travellers may not be able to use the program at their preferred airport or land border crossing. Some European Global Entry members do NOT receive a physical Global Entry card, which leads to staff refusing entry to the faster lines.
  3. Technical Issues: The automated kiosks used for Global Entry can sometimes malfunction, which can cause delays and inconvenience for travellers. However, even then it’s likely to be faster than regular immigration.
  4. Privacy Concerns: Some people may be uncomfortable with providing personal information and biometric data, such as fingerprints and facial recognition, to the U.S. government for security purposes.
  5. Limited Benefit: If you do not travel internationally frequently or if you usually travel with large groups, you might not benefit from Global Entry as much as a solo traveler who travels frequently.

Summary

Since I got Global Entry a couple of years ago, I have used it extensively as I travel a lot to or through the United States. It has saved me so much time on arrival, but also the provision of TSAPre as part of the service saves a lot of stress and lining up at often busy airports. For me, it’s worth the hassle of getting it and the $100 USD fee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your question not answered here? Add your question using the comment box below

Which countries can use Global Entry?

Citizens of Germany, the UK, Argentina, India, Colombia, Panama, Singapore, Mexico, Switzerland, South Korea are eligible for Global Entry membership as well as US Citizens and US lawful permanent residents.

Does Global Entry work in Ireland?

Irish citizens are not eligible to apply for Global Entry. However, members of the Global Entry program from the other eligible 11 countries can use their Global Entry status to speed up US Pre-clearance at airports in Ireland, Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport.

Which is better: Global Entry or TSA Precheck?

TSA Precheck comes free as part of Global Entry membership, so I’d say Global Entry is great value for $100. Plus it saves you time if you travel internationally by speeding up your arrival to the USA.

Are Global Entry interviews in person?

Yes, your Global Entry interview can be held at pre-approved enrollment locations or at certain airports before departure or upon arrival. I had my interview in person at Vancouver International (YVR) en route to the US and without a pre-booking.

I'm Patrick, your Irish guide to the skies and beyond. With 58 countries visited, my journeys have taken me from busy economy to fabulous first-class.

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