It’s not a card issued by AARP that confirms my ability to GO. On recent trips out of the country, Lisa and I noticed the Global Entry lines. There were few people in them and the ones that went into those lines moved through them in quick fashion. A friend who travels for his job told us we had to get the GOES card and it would truly be worth the $100 you pay for the application. After nearly missing a connection at the Miami airport due to excessive slow moving lines, we decided to do it.
GOES is the acronym for GLOBAL ONLINE ENROLLMENT SYSTEM. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. There is no minimum number of trips necessary to qualify for the program. Participants may enter the United States by using automated kiosks located at selected airports. To get a GOES card, you have to agree to divulge a lot of personal information. Face it: this information is already available to the government, so as someone with no terrorist links or desire to conduct international illegal business, I don’t have a problem laying it out for them. You go to the Global entry website, (https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes) and register. After your application is submitted and your check clears, you will get a letter directing you to make an appointment for an interview. At the interview, you will be photo graphed and your fingerprints are recorded. The officer will question you about where you travel, what your occupation is, and if you have any outstanding criminal charges. Assuming you answer to the officer’s satisfaction and everything checks out, you will be mailed an ID card in a protective sleeve to carry with you when you travel. (The protective sleeve shields the RFID chip in the card so your information can’t be accessed.)
Once you receive and activate the card, you can add that ID number to airline reservations to mark your travel documents to indicate that you are a trusted traveler. This really smooth’s the road through the airport! Once check in luggage is dropped off, GOES participants proceed to the shorter Global Entry line to TSA check in. In that line, GOES ID holders do not have to take off their belts and shoes, and the search is less invasive. A word to the wise, though, if, like me, you have artificially parts that set off the metal detector; tell the office right away. They will then direct you to the front of the line for the millimeter scanner. If you say nothing and set off the metal detector, they have no choice but to perform the usual pat down.
At major international airports, they now have kiosks for reading the traveler’s passport. GOES participants have a special expedited line for this as well. Once your passport is scanned, it will print out a “receipt” that shows your photo on it. If there is an “X” over your photo, then you will have to talk to the immigration officer. For a non-GOES traveler, this is another line to wait in, but for the GOES traveler, you will be put at the head of the line again and bypass all the waiting. This is a really good thing if you are someone who has difficulty standing for a length of time, as this pass cuts through all that and keeps you moving along.
On our recent trip to Utila Lisa and I both traveled with our new GOES cards and it relieved much travel stress by allowing us to navigate the customs lines so quickly.
On our way back into the country and to our connecting flight, we were also among the first people to get to the baggage claim and back though TSA check in. (If only they had GOES for luggage!) Getting our GOES card cost $100 but was a small investment towards more enjoyable travel.