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Fee Hike for Global Entry Applications Coming

Global Entry is about to get more expensive.

Starting Oct. 1, 2024, the application fee for a five-year membership will increase from $100 to $120, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday.

That’s a 20% jump in the cost of the program, which offers vetted travelers a fast track through passport control upon re-entry to the U.S. following an international trip, plus TSA PreCheck access.

There is a bit of good news for families, though. Children of Global Entry members or applicants will no longer have to pay an application fee.

First fee hike in 15-plus years

Although the fee hike may be a bit jarring, CBP notes it’s the first fee increase the program has seen in more than 15 years, dating back to the early days of its launch in 2008.

Global Entry membership has exploded in recent years. As of September, the program had 12 million members.

Though many federally operated programs are sustained entirely through tax dollars, Global Entry is primarily funded through application fees. However, the fees don’t cover the program’s entire costs, a top CBP official in charge of the program told TPG Monday.

“As these programs have matured and expanded, updating the fee structures is critical to the continuation and management of the programs,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

The program has seen costs (and revenue) climb as it’s fielded a record-setting number of applications in recent years. That number, along with residual effects from the coronavirus pandemic, has helped fuel application processing delays, particularly as it relates to landing an interview.

Nexus getting a fee hike, too

Global Entry isn’t the only Trusted Traveler program getting a fee hike. The fee for Nexus, which expedites travelers’ crossing from Canada into the U.S., will also cost $120 as of Oct. 1. That’s up from $50 currently.

SENTRI, which does the same for both Canada and Mexico, already costs $122.25.

The agency is referring to the changes as “fee harmonization,” making each of those three programs virtually identical in cost going forward.

TSA PreCheck costs stay the same

Notably, no fee hike was announced Tuesday for the stand-alone TSA PreCheck program. In fact, the cost for first-time PreCheck applicants actually dropped in 2022, from $85 to $78 for a five-year membership.

The just-announced Global Entry fee hike will certainly widen the cost gap between the two programs. Still, if you’re a frequent international traveler, the $120 cost is a relatively modest investment over five years for a program that gets you both the expedited experience at customs and TSA checkpoints.

Plus, several popular travel credit cards currently reimburse the $100 Global Entry application fee. It remains to be seen whether those cards will increase their Global Entry benefits now, with the program’s cost now rising.

Global Entry has become more technologically advanced in recent years, too, deploying touchless kiosks that can verify a traveler’s identity with simply a facial image — no passport or fingerprint scan necessary. The program also launched a new mobile app in 2023 that’s been expanding to a growing list of U.S. airports in recent months.

One bit of good news: Kids will be free

There was a bit of good news in Tuesday’s announcement. Though the cost for most members is rising, children of members will be able to apply for Global Entry for free — a positive change for families.

As of Oct. 1, applicants under the age of 18 will be exempt from application fees when a parent or legal guardian is already a member of (or is also applying for) Global Entry — as well as Nexus or SENTRI.

Bottom line

Amid inflation of recent years, costs throughout the economy have spiked; this has led to a barrage of fee increases across the travel industry, too. Air travel has been no exception: In recent months, numerous airlines have hiked checked bag fees, and JetBlue just jacked its fees up for the second time this year.

However, Global Entry’s application costs had remained static for well over a decade.

Though the news will sting for travelers applying for the program, the fast track it provides at TSA checkpoints and passport control remains a major benefit. A family with multiple children enrolled (or applying) stands to reap significant cost-saving benefits thanks to children being free as part of the program updates.

Corey Grant - Travel Agent
Interested in one of our posted vacation getaways or looking for someone to book a different trip for you? Text me at 202-503-6969 #Vacation

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