US Global Entry: How to join the scheme and avoid border queues when entering America

All you need to know about joining Global Entry – a travel scheme operated by US Border Control that can help British travellers avoid big queues and invasive interviews when entering America.

Are you travelling to the US? Then prepare for long queues and invasive questioning when you arrive – unless, of course, you know about the Global Entry programme…

No need to queue - simply head to the automated system with Global Entry

No need to queue – simply head to the automated system with Global Entry

Global Entry allows Brits to navigate through the border control faster at many airports across the States. It’s especially useful for anyone who makes regular trips to the US.

Here’s all you need to know about Global Entry and how it can help beat the queues at  US border control.

What is the US Global Entry scheme?

Global Entry is a pre-check programme that means you won’t need to spend up to an hour, queuing at US Border Control.

What are the benefits of Global Entry?

With the US keen on tightening its borders, gaining entry has become a lot tougher for all travellers.

This can mean anything from long queues to in-depth personal question and additional searches.

Waiting times at US Border Control are often up to or more than one hour. Check out this site for information on ‘wait times’ at US airport terminals.

Global Entry lets members swerve the Border Control queues and enter the US by using automated kiosks.

This means you won’t need to speak to a Customs and Border Protection officer and complete paperwork at the point of entry.

How do I apply for Global Entry in the UK?

A CBP Officer processes an incoming passenger at the Newark International Airport. Photo by James Tourtellotte

A CBP Officer processes an incoming passenger at the Newark International Airport. Photo by James Tourtellotte

First of all you’ll need to have a British passport that says ‘British Citizen’ on the photo page.

If you are officially listed as a British citizen, you can click here to complete the UK background check.

If you have more than one previous conviction (spent or current) or police caution, your application will be stopped. Other factors – such as breaking customs rules, or having any travel restriction imposed – can also see the process stopped at this point.

If you successfully complete the online check, you’ll still have to wait up to 10 working days to see if you’ve passed.

How much does the UK background check cost?

Each person taking the test will need to pay £42.

Next, you’ll need to pass the US customs check

If you pass the UK background check, you’ll be asked to create an account with the US ‘Trusted Traveller Program’ where you’ll be able to take the customs check.

You will get the result of this check within two weeks.

This will cost each applicant $100 (around £74).

Interview at an enrolment centre in the US

Beating the queues with Global Entry

Beating the queues with Global Entry

If you get to this stage, you’ll need to confirm your G

lobal Entry status by attending an enrolment centre during a trip to the US. This must be scheduled within 30 days of acceptance and take place no later than six months after successfully passing the Customs Check.

The interview will only take a few moments and be used to confirm you have completed all the steps. It’s worth noting that you will be required to have your fingerprints taken. You should be confirmed as a successful member at the interview.

Find your nearest enrolment centre in the US here.

Will I still need a visa or ESTA?

Yes. You will still need to have one of the above to enter the US, as Global Entry does not replace the role they play.


How long does Global Entry last?

Because it’s a lengthy and relatively expensive process, you’ll be glad to hear that a successful application to Global Entry will last for five years.

Can I register children for Global Entry?

Yes – as long as you have parental responsibility for them.

Travelling to America – find out what you can and can’t take through US customs here.


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