Let me tell you – I am so glad that I started looking into the Global Entry program early! For those of you unfamiliar with it, Global Entry is a program run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that allows you to bypass those loooong security lines when coming back into the United States by plane (it also comes with TSA PreCheck membership, which gets you past the lines when traveling domestically as well). The cost is $100 – but that gets you a 5 year enrollment in the program! Well worth it, if you ask me…
I had thought of waiting until closer to my departure date for Korea to apply (since I’d then be able to truly take advantage of all 5 years), but then got impatient and decided to go ahead and apply in August. I am so glad that I did! So, the process is described as follows:
- Create an online account on the GOES system.
- Fill out application form and submit for processing.
- Pay $100 (non-refundable) application fee.
- Schedule interview for fingerprinting and final identity confirmation.
In my head, that process would take a few weeks, 4-5 tops. The paperwork went smoothly, and about a week later I got an email that I had passed the initial application phase and was invited to schedule my interview. I clicked on the link for my local interview office, only to discover that the next available interview date was 7:30am in late October. Imagine if I had waited until November to apply – the next interview date might not have been until after I was scheduled to leave for Korea!
So for all of you out there who are considering applying to Global Entry – don’t wait! I’ll try to remember to update this post when I’ve actually used the program for the first time, but it certainly sounds like it’s worth its weight in gold for sheer convenience.
P.S. Another great feature for those of us going to Korea is that if you’re a member of the Global Entry program, you can apply to join the Korean equivalent (known as the Smart Entry System, or SES). SES gets you expedited security screening coming into three main Korean airports (Incheon, Gimpo, and Gimpae), so that will come in very handy for any traveling I want to do in Asia while I’m over there!