Make Your Global Entry Appointment Come Months Faster By Walking In

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This year has been a big one for me when it comes to international travel, and so last December I decided to bite the bullet on getting a Global Entry account to use throughout the year. When I got approved for the service, however, I ran into one big snafu: the soonest appointment I could get for my in-person interview was eight months away, long after a few international trips I had planned.

If you’re somehow not familiar with Global Entry, it’s a program where you submit to a background check and in-person interview with U.S. Customs and Border Protection once at your home airport, and then for $100 you’re able to go through expedited lines at customs when you get back into the country (and you get TSA Pre when you’re flying domestically).

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It’s a service I recommend everyone who travels, even a little bit, to get. Earlier this year when I got back from Italy, for instance, I was through customs in San Francisco a full hour and half before my boyfriend was thanks to Global Entry. I walked through the same lines as flight crew at SFO, waited in zero lines, and was sipping on coffee at Starbucks outside of security roughly 20 minutes after we landed. If you can save yourself that customs headache a few times over the five year span, and use TSA Pre a few times, that $100 is well spent.

The first step in applying for Global Entry is filling out an online form for your background check, which is pretty easy and you can really do anytime. That in-person interview, which you set up after you’re preliminarily approved, can be a huge hassle though, depending on where you live. Rather than wait for months and months to get an appointment, you should just do a walk in instead.

I oddly learned about walk-ins from the Yelp page for SFO’s Global Entry office. Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Every Global Entry office takes a few walk-in appointments each day. All the advice I read suggested getting to the office a few hours before they opened (like 4am arrival early). Both my boyfriend and I; however, opted to arrive before lunch instead. I arrived around 10:45 am, and he got there closer to noon.
  • When you arrive, tell the person at the door you’re there as a walk-in for a Global Entry appointment. They’ll have you write your name down on a paper, and tell you you’re not guaranteed to be seen that day, but that they’ll try to work you in.
  • Bring something to occupy yourself for a few hours. I have the luxury of working form home, so I packed my laptop and a lunch. This will probably happen fast, but come with the idea you’re going to camp out for a while.
  • I was called for an appointment within 2 minutes of putting my name of the signup sheet. My boyfriend, who did this months later, was called within 15 minutes. From what I can tell (and from my own experience) appointments take roughly 5 minutes, but are scheduled for 15. There’s a really solid chance they’ll find room for you soon.

I had a TSA Pre number before I left the Global Entry office (which I used for a flight that same week), and I got an email saying my Global Entry account was active before I even made it home from my appointment.

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Of course, milage may vary for this. If you have a flight, especially an International one; however, it can pay to just head to the airport an hour or two early for your flight and give walking in a try.

Another tip: that appointment can also happen at any office in the country. If your home airport is as backed up as mine at SFO, you can schedule your appointment somewhere else instead. Before I did my walk in, I had scheduled mine for Vegas, where I was traveling in April. That was a full four months sooner than I was able to get at home.

Source : https://lifehacker.com/make-your-global-entry-appointment-come-months-faster-b-1796195231

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