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How to use the Global Entry mobile app


Global Entry is getting even easier and faster to use.

At more than a dozen U.S. airports, travelers can now bypass the Global Entry kiosks and instead verify their arrival in the U.S. on a smartphone using the program’s new mobile app.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which operates Global Entry and other Trusted Traveler programs, rolled out the official Global Entry app in late September.

You can use the app to confirm your arrival at an international airport with a selfie. CBP will compare that photo with your photo(s) on file and then send you a mobile receipt you can take right to an agent.

Unfortunately, you won’t find the app usable at all airports where Global Entry is available just yet.

However, the Global Entry app is available at a fast-growing list of, now, 15 airports:

  • Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)
  • Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Washington D.C.’s Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
  • Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • Midway International Airport (MDW) in Chicago
  • Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Inside the customs area at John F. Kennedy International Airport’s Terminal 5. SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re arriving at another major U.S. airport not listed above, you might still want to check the app. TPG has found that CBP has rapidly added airports to the app as it expands its reach to more international arrivals locations across the country.

CBP said it will continue to evaluate the program and expand to other airports in the future as a way to make the program more secure and efficient for travelers.

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“The new Global Entry mobile application leverages the latest technologies, in order to enhance security while further improving the travel experience for CBP’s trusted travelers,” Troy A. Miller, CBP senior official performing the duties of the commissioner, said in a statement in September.

Here’s a look at how the new app works.

How does the Global Entry app work?

Your first step, of course, is to download the Global Entry mobile app. It’s free in the Apple app store and Google Play.

Once you open the app, you’ll start a “New Submission.” You’ll want to start this process after landing, so perhaps while your plane taxis (after the flight attendant indicates you can use mobile devices).

GLOBAL ENTRY

From there, the app will ask you to select your CBP port of entry, which is the airport where you’ve just arrived.

GLOBAL ENTRY

Again, the current list of airports is limited, but the agency plans to expand this program to more in the future.

Depending on the airport, you may have to select your arrival terminal. If you’re not sure where you’ll arrive, you should be able to confirm this on your airline’s app.

For example, let’s say I’m arriving in Los Angeles.

Once I select LAX, I’ll have a choice of two terminals; I’ll pick “TBIT” for the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

GLOBAL ENTRY

Then, it’ll ask you if you’ve actually arrived at that airport. If you have, select “Submit Now.”

GLOBAL ENTRY

At that point, the app will prepare you for your selfie and offer a few tips for taking an effective photo, like ensuring adequate lighting and not wearing a mask.

GLOBAL ENTRY

You’ll need to allow the app to access your camera for this to work (select “OK”).

Then, follow the instructions for taking a selfie.

GLOBAL ENTRY

The app will show you the photo it just captured, and you can either accept it or take another.

GLOBAL ENTRY

If I were actually near LAX and arriving from an international flight, I would then receive a mobile receipt. This takes the place of the Global Entry kiosk receipt (which, in a lot of cases these days, is digital anyway with the advent of paperless kiosks).

Once you’re in the international arrivals areas, you can head right to the Global Entry line, but skip the kiosks and proceed with your mobile receipt right to the CBP officer, who will be the final stamp of approval on your arrival back in the U.S.

Bottom line

Global Entry is at a record 12 million-plus members and continues to field applications at an unprecedented pace, which has helped contribute to an enrollment backlog.

However, once you’re in, the program can save you an incredible amount of time after an international flight, and the addition of the mobile app figures to speed that process up even more.

If you’re hoping to take an international trip next spring or summer, now is a good time to get the enrollment process started. Also, don’t forget to charge your $100 application fee to a credit card that reimburses the program’s cost.

Don’t want to use the app? No problem: Global Entry kiosks will still be available. CBP just considers this an additional option for its growing membership.

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