Global Entry is an incredibly useful program for anyone who travels internationally with any frequency. I’ve now had Global Entry for over a decade, and just went through the process of renewing my membership. I wanted to outline how that works in this post (I’ve separately written about how to apply for Global Entry).
In this post:
What is Global Entry?
For those not familiar, Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. With this program, approved members can enter the United States using automatic kiosks at virtually all international airports.
At the kiosks, members simply have to enter their passport or permanent resident card into the machine, place their fingerprints on the scanner or use the facial recognition feature, and then complete a basic customs declaration. Members are then issued a transaction receipt, and can proceed directly to baggage claim and the exit (unless they’re selected for additional screening).
Over the past decade, Global Entry has probably saved me dozens of hours. Back in the day I’d be stressed when landing back in the United States, wondering if I’d be stuck in an hour-long immigration queue. Nowadays I can just breeze right through.
Global Entry renewal basics
Before I share a step-by-step guide of my Global Entry renewal experience, let me share some basics about the timeline, how much it costs, etc.
How long is Global Entry valid for?
Global Entry is valid for roughly five years after you’re approved. The reason I say “roughly” is because it’s valid for five years from your next birthday. In other words, if your birthday is December 1, and you apply January 1, 2022, your membership would be valid through December 1, 2027.
If you strategically apply for Global Entry, you can get it for almost six years with one membership. Just apply shortly after your birthday.
How do you determine when your Global Entry expires?
Generally speaking you’ll get an email six months before your Global Entry expires informing you of the upcoming expiration. If you want to look for it in your email, that usually comes from [email protected].
Alternatively you can log into your Trusted Traveler Program dashboard, and go to the section that lists your program status. You’ll see the expiration date listed there.
When can you renew your Global Entry?
You can apply to have your Global Entry renewed up to a year before the expiration date. There’s no penalty for renewing early, in the sense that it will still be valid for five years from when your membership currently expires, and not five years from when you’re approved. So you might as well renew early.
You won’t want to let your membership lapse, since the process is more complicated for a lapsed membership. Be sure to apply for renewal well before your Global Entry is set to expire.
Is there a grace period for Global Entry renewal?
There is a grace period for Global Entry renewal, as long as you submit your renewal application before your membership expires:
- Historically there has been a six month grace period
- Due to a significant increase in application volume, the grace period is currently one year
If you do submit your application but aren’t approved before the expiration, you’ll continue to be able to use Global Entry the same way as before during that period.
How much does it cost to renew Global Entry?
It costs $100 to renew Global Entry. Fortunately, many credit cards offer a fee credit toward Global Entry renewal. Note that in all cases, you can use your credit for anyone — so if you have extra credits, you can use them for friends and family to renew their Global Entry.
Do you have to be interviewed for Global Entry renewal?
When you first apply for Global Entry you have to be interviewed (historically this was only possible in-person, but since the pandemic this can also be done virtually). Do you need to be interviewed when you renew? It depends:
- Some people who apply for renewal get a full approval without having to attend an in-person interview
- Some people who apply for renewal have to attend an interview
- The good news is that if you do need to attend an interview, you can simply do so when you return to the United States with your next trip
What happens to Global Entry if your passport expires?
While only tangentially related, what happens if you have to renew your passport before your Global Entry expires? The good news is that it’s a really easy process.
You just have to log into your account on the Trusted Traveler Programs website and update your passport number there. Your Global Entry will then continue to apply with the new passport up until the Global Entry expiration date. See this post for more details on how that works.
Step-by-step guide to renewing Global Entry
On January 27, 2022, I started the process of renewing my Global Entry application. My current membership expires April 20, 2022, though as long as I submitted my application by then, I’d have a one year grace period.
To renew your Global Entry membership you’ll want to go to the Trusted Traveler Programs website, and click “LOG IN” at the top right under the “Returning GE/NEXUS/SENTRI/FAST Member/Applicants” heading.
Note that back in 2017 the government migrated from the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). So if you don’t yet have a new Trusted Traveler Programs profile, you’ll have to set that up first, which is a quick process.
Once logged in you’ll see your current Global Entry membership, and underneath that you should see a “Renew Membership” option listed, assuming you’re within the renewal period.
There you’ll be able to select the program you want to apply for or renew, which in this case would be Global Entry.
Essentially the Global Entry renewal application contains all the information you submitted the last time around, so you just have to confirm that it’s correct and update any outdated information.
This includes reviewing your personal information, documents, driver’s license, address, employment info, travel history, and more.
You do have to upload a copy of your passport during the process.
The only slightly complicated part of this process is having to update your travel history, as you have to list all of the countries that you’ve been to since the last time that you applied (which in my case was January 2017). So yeah, that took a second for me.
At some points the process of reviewing info isn’t very intuitive, as you have to click a lot of unnecessary buttons confirming that nothing has changed. But it’s pretty self explanatory. I’d say the whole process up until this point took me about 15 minutes, and that includes having to recall all the counties that I’ve been to in the past five years (which is quite a few).
To finish off the process you just have to certify that all of the information that you’re providing is accurate, and then you have to pay.
When you pay, make sure you use a credit card that has a Global Entry fee credit, assuming you have one.
I used my Amex Business Platinum, and the fee reimbursed within a few days.
How long did my Global Entry renewal take?
As mentioned above, I submitted my Global Entry application on January 27, 2022. Then on February 7, 2022 — 11 days later — I received an email indicating that there had been an application status change on my renewal. I received an email from [email protected] with the subject line “TTP Application Status Change.”
The email as such doesn’t tell you a whole lot, so you have to log into your account again to see the status. There I found out that my application was conditionally approved, meaning that I still have to take part in an interview.
I’m not sure what triggered that, rather than a full approval. It could be the number of countries I’ve been to, or it could be that they just don’t give you a full approval each time, since when I last renewed Global Entry I received a full approval, without the need for an interview.
While I could schedule an interview, I’ll probably just attend an interview the next time that I pass through an immigration facility, so that I don’t have to make a separate trip for this.
I just went through the process of renewing my Global Entry, and it was pretty easy. You basically just have to confirm that all the information during your last application is still accurate, add all the countries you’ve been to since then, and pay a fee.
My application was processed in less than two weeks, which is great given the alleged backups they’re having. While I got a full approval last time, this time around I only got a conditional approval, meaning I have to attend an in-person interview. Fortunately that’s an easy enough process, as you can just attend an interview when passing through an immigration facility while returning to the United States.
Hopefully this is useful for anyone else who has a Global Entry renewal coming up soon.
If you’ve had to renew your Global Entry, what was your experience like?