Everything you need to know about getting Global Entry with kids

St. Kitts and Nevis

As a family that loves to travel, we always look for ways to make our trips more comfortable and stress-free. After hearing about the benefits of Global Entry, we decided to apply for the program to see how it could help us on our international travels with our two young children.

In this post, we will share our personal experience getting Global Entry with kids and how it has made a difference in our travels.

What is Global Entry, and what are its benefits?

The Global Entry program, administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, enables pre-screened, low-risk travelers to receive expedited processing upon their arrival in the United States.

Apart from avoiding processing lines, receiving expedited entry privileges, and experiencing shorter waiting times, you also become eligible for TSA PreCheck. This program accelerates the screening process for travelers at participating TSA security checkpoints, allowing you to keep your shoes, belts, electronics, and light jackets on.

Eligibility Requirements for Global Entry

U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and citizens of the following countries are eligible for Global Entry membership: Argentina, Brazil, Bahrain, India, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexican Nationals.

There are some reasons you might not be eligible to participate in the Global Entry program, including providing false information on the application, having been convicted of any criminal offense, having been found in violation of any customs, immigration regulations, or laws in any country, being the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency.

Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian who has also been approved for the program, and both parents and children must meet the eligibility requirements.

Application Process

Let’s take a look at the steps you need to take in order to complete your application for Global Entry.

Create a Trusted Traveler Programs account

First, you need to create a Trusted Traveler Programs account on the Official website of the Department of Homeland Security.

💡 Good to Know

Applying for Global Entry requires each person, regardless their age, to have their own Trusted Traveler Programs account. This means that if you are also applying for your kids, they need to have a separate account and application.

$100 Application Fee

Next, log in to your TTP account, fill in the application, and pay the $100 non-refundable fee. Filling in the online application was straightforward and took us about 30 minutes. The application fee is required with each completed application.

💡 Good to Know

Some credit cards offer Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit as a cardholder benefit. This means that the credit card company will reimburse you for the cost of your application fee. Some of the credit cards that offer this benefit include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express, and the Capital One Venture X.

American Express Platinum Card

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

American Express Platinum

Unleash the ultimate rewards experience with the American Express Platinum card! Get 80,000 Membership Rewards Points just by spending $6,000 on purchases in your first six months as a new cardmember. Redeem your points for a world of travel and lifestyle opportunities – the possibilities are endless!

REWARDS RATE

1x-5x

BONUS VALUE

$1,600

SIGN-UP BONUS

80,000 points

ANNUAL FEE

$695

Capital One Venture X

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Capital One Venture X

The Capital One Venture X card offers valuable rewards for travelers, including a 75,000 mile welcome bonus and premium travel benefits. With luxury perks like airport lounge access, statement credits, and anniversary miles bonuses, this metal credit card can elevate your next vacation.

REWARDS RATE

2x-10x

BONUS VALUE

$1,200

SIGN-UP BONUS

75,000 miles

ANNUAL FEE

$395

Conditional Approval

After submitting the online application, applicants will receive conditional approval, which means that their application has passed the initial background check and they are eligible for an interview. It took us about two weeks to receive the conditional approval notice via email.

It is important to note that conditional approval does not guarantee final approval for Global Entry. You must still attend the in-person interview to have your fingerprints taken and answer questions about your application.

Schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center

If your application is conditionally approved, you can now schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Do not forget that each applicant must schedule a separate interview.

💡 Good to Know

Scheduling an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center was actually the most challenging part of getting Global Entry for us. The closest Global Entry Enrollment Center at the nearby airport (SFO) did not have any availability for months after we had been conditionally approved (precisely for six months).

If the interview goes well and the officer approves the application, the applicant will receive their Global Entry card within a few weeks.

Preparing for the Interview

The in-person interview is a crucial step in the Global Entry application process. During the interview, an officer will ask you questions about your application and verify your documents. If you are bringing your kids to the interview, preparing them beforehand is essential. Explain what the interview will entail and reassure them that it’s a standard procedure.

Enrollment on Arrival

If you are entering the U.S. after arriving from an international flight and have been conditionally approved for Global Entry, you can participate in Enrollment on Arrival.

Suppose you are planning the Enrollment on Arrival. In that case, you should verify whether the airport you are arriving at has an Enrollment Center to accept conditionally approved persons for walk-in enrollments. Remember also to check its hours of operation.

💡Good to Know

As for us, we were already conditionally approved and were indeed returning to the U.S. after an international flight; and San Francisco International Airport has the Enrollment Center. So we were hoping to get an interview on arrival. To our surprise, the Center had just changed its operating hours to only weekdays and to 9 am – 2 pm, which wasn’t the day or time in our case.

You can still participate in Enrollment on Arrival upon arriving in the United States at an eligible airport if you already have an interview scheduled. Simply proceed to the Enrollment on Arrival CBP station upon arrival at the CBP inspection hall.

Interview

Waiting for our Global Entry interview at San Francisco International Airport
Waiting for our Global Entry interview at San Francisco International Airport

What documents should I bring?

To complete the application process, you must bring your valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card, to the interview. You must present your permanent resident card if you are a lawful permanent resident. In our case, we brought our U.S. passports for the four of us and driver’s licenses for adults.

What questions are asked at the Global Entry interview?

What kind of questions have we been asked at our Global Entry interview? It is interesting how we both had our interviews at the same time at different windows but had different questions asked.

Let’s take a look at some of those questions:

  1. What is your current address?
  2. Are you currently employed? Have you ever been employed?
  3. Do you have any international trips coming up? Where? When?
  4. When was your last international trip?
  5. Have you been to Canada in the last 5 years?
  6. Do you have other country citizenship?

How much time does the Global Entry interview take?

The whole interview took about 10 minutes; we were informed that we had been approved and were on our way.

Biometrics

After answering all the questions, an officer informed us that he needed to take our pictures and fingerprints. This also included our 8-year-old, and she was a little nervous about her fingerprints being taken, but it all worked out pretty fast.

💡 Good to Know

As for our 2-year-old, she only needed her picture taken, as Global Entry Enrollment Center does not require kids under the age of 4 to provide their fingerprints. This also means that the 2-year-old would not be eligible for online Global Entry renewal in five years and will be the only one to schedule an interview since she must provide her fingerprints.

After Approval

Once you are approved for Global Entry, each family member will receive a Global Entry card, which is valid for five years. When traveling with kids, it’s important to remember that all family members must use the Global Entry kiosks together.

How does Global Entry work at the airport?

When you arrive in the United States from an international flight, look for the “Global Entry” signs that will guide you to the automated kiosks. At the automated kiosk, all you need to do is touch the screen and have your picture taken. Once the screen tells you that you may proceed, you can continue to an officer who will ask for your name and issue you a yellow card stamped with today’s date. After you have your yellow card, simply collect your luggage and proceed to the exit, where you will need to return the yellow card to a CBP officer.

In the past, you still had to scan your passport and submit your fingerprints, but with the facial recognition system, this process is so much easier; you don’t even have to take your passport out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can children use Global Entry without their parents?

No, children must be accompanied by an approved parent or legal guardian to use Global Entry.

Can I add my child to my Global Entry account?

No, you can not add your children to your Global Entry account. Applying for Global Entry requires each person, regardless their age, to have a separate account and application.

How long does it take to get approved for Global Entry?

In our case, we were immediately informed that we had been approved at the interview. The approval process can take up to several weeks, but it can vary depending on the volume of applications being processed.

Is Global Entry worth the cost for families?

Yes, the time saved and stress reduced during travel makes Global Entry worth the cost for families who travel frequently. Make sure to use a credit card that has the Global Entry credit perk!

Bottom line

If you take a few international trips a year, consider applying for Global Entry to make your trip more enjoyable. Getting Global Entry with kids can make traveling much more comfortable and stress-free for families. By following the eligibility requirements, preparing for the interview, and understanding how Global Entry works, you can take advantage of the benefits of Global Entry.

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