Getting through U.S. Customs with GOES

If you travel internationally, as I do, you may be interested in Global Entry which mainly allows you to get through U.S. Customs and Border Protection quicker when flying internationally and gives you the Transportation Security Administration’s pre-check green light when traveling domestically.

But, before this happens, you must be pre-approved and that requires being cleared through the CBP.

In order to begin this clearance process, you must create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account. Regardless of your age, you must have your own GOES account, complete the application process and pay a $100 non-refundable fee with each completed application.

I suggest you read everything carefully in the on-line application and answer thoroughly.

After accepting your completed GOES application and fee, the CBP will review it. If the application is conditionally approved, you’ll receive an email instructing you to go to your GOES account to schedule an in-person interview. Each applicant must schedule a separate interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers. These centers are at major airports throughout the U.S. In my case, I had my interview at the Dallas/Forth International Airport.

You will need to bring your valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or I.D. card to the interview. Make sure information on your drivers license is current. And, also be sure to print out the letter emailed informing you that your Global Entry membership application was processed and that you can now schedule your interview. The interview must be scheduled within 30 days of receipt of the letter even though the actual interview may take place outside of the 30 days. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you must present your permanent resident card.

Once the interview is complete, which includes verifying your identity, reviewing your documentation and taking your fingerprints and photo, the terms and conditions of the Global Entry program are explained and questions are answered.

By the time I got home from the interview, I had an email telling me to go into my GOES account to get my approval letter and my Known Traveler Number for my TSA pre-check. Your Known Traveler Number is good for five years.

Although I haven’t used the customs entry portion, I have used the TSA pre-check and all I can say is that I like getting through security quicker and with less of a hassle.

As for going through U.S. customs, Global Entry should allow me to use automatic kiosks at select airports when I enter the country.

My understanding is that at airports, program members proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingerprints on the scanner for fingerprint verification and complete a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit.

While Global Entry’s goal is to speed travelers through the process, members may still be selected for further examination when entering the United States. Any violation of the program’s terms and conditions will result in the appropriate enforcement action and termination of the traveler’s membership privileges.