What does the Global Entry ‘Card’ do anyways?

I am not asking what the Global Entry program does – it is outright awesome – I am asking what the physical Global Entry card does. Do I even need to carry it around? Under what circumstances does it serve a purpose?logo-ge

For those of you not familiar with it, the Global Entry program allows travelers returning from overseas trips, to the US to bypass going thru the regular immigration and customs lines and pass thru by just accessing a kiosk. Special lanes for Immigration and Customs. No papers to fill out – at all. No agent to see. No waiting. It is awesome. All for a fee of $100 for 5 years. Also, you get TSA-pre on all domestic flights!

My question – when I applied for and got accepted, I got a physical card in the mail. I expected that it will be what I would use to access the kiosk, but it is not. At the kiosk, is used by sliding in your passport, not the card. So, there is no use I have found for the card. I have never been asked to use or show it. Is there a use?


  1. From the global entry website:

    CBP accepts Global Entry cards for lawful U.S. entry at land and sea ports of entry. Global Entry cards have radio frequency identification, which enables their use at SENTRI and NEXUS expedited travel lanes entering the U.S. Global Entry cards are not valid for entry into Canada via the NEXUS lanes and kiosks. Global Entry cards are not accepted at Global Entry kiosks, which require passports or U.S. lawful permanent resident cards. Global Entry card holders must follow all program rules for SENTRI and NEXUS when using this card at land and sea ports of entry.

  2. I have only used it at Pre at BOS when I had tickets reprinted and for some reason they didn’t print TSA Pre on them (the ones I printed at home did- we were checking bags so they reprinted them for me, not that I wanted them to).

    So I showed the Pre-line agent my card and she said, “Hmm. They usually print that on your ticket.” Then she sort of shrugged and let me through (esp since there was nobody in the line and the regular line was very, very long). Still, it got me in and I was through in no time.

  3. Mexican and Canadian land border crossings accept it. But only if everyone in the car has one.

  4. @Nic and @Russ, thanks for sharing. Was not aware of land border use.

    @100K, that is interesting. I was actually told by the agent interviewing me that showing the card will not guarantee me TSAPre access. The ‘system’ has to pre-approve TSAPre, which it ‘almost’ always will for Global Entry card holders. That being said, I have not had the BP show the TSAPre a couple of times on the BP, but scanning the bar code always confirms that I was indeed TSAPre, without showing the card.

  5. I use my global entry card when going through security…keeps the TSA agents on their toes ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Coming back from London last month the Global Entry machines were down so the agent said I could us the card as proof of me being in the program. I still had to fill out the form, but when I was done, the agent opened a separate line for Global Entry people and I went right through.

  7. According to the agent I interviewed with when applying for the program, in the unlikely event that the kiosks are down or won’t read your passport for some reason, the Global Entry card is the only way to prove your enrollment in the program. In these situations, by showing the card,the CBP agents will move you to the head of the line to be screeened by an agent. In addition, as this is a valid form of identification, it may expedite the process of obtaining a new passport at a foreign embassy/consulate if yours is lost/stolen.

    For these rare circumstances, I usually carry the card with me (separately from my passport)for use in verifying my enrollment in the program and/or identity should the need ever arise.

  8. @Dan, @Sam, thanks for sharing. This is great info. I have been carrying my GE card since I got it on international trips, but was just not sure what I could/would use it for.

  9. There should be a CBP sticker that should of been afixed to your passport at the interview. The card is not the only thing that will show that you are in the program

  10. @pab CBP hasn’t put a sticker on passports for at least a year now.

    I used the card during land travel from Windsor, ON to Detroit. Saved me about 15 minutes.

  11. I use it for ID because, unlike my drivers’ license it does not have my home address on it.

    This has nothing to do with airport security.

  12. @ZH, I thought it was the other way round. GE was the superset of all other programs including NEXUS…

  13. @Steve, I use them as a ID outside the US. I do not like to carry my drivers license (has address, not issued by the Feds). And I do not want to carry my passport everywhere. I leave my passport in the hotel room safe and carry the GE card

  14. When I got mine I was told it could be used as an official form of identification. Not the first thing I’ll pull out of my wallet, but could come in handy on occasion.

    If you lose your drivers license while traveling, this could be a back up to get you on the plane and back home without having your spouse Overnight some other ID.

  15. A Nexus card is much more useful – you can use Nexus lanes driving into Canada, you can use Nexus kiosks flying into Canadian airports (if you get the iris scan – a good excuse to drive from Detroit to YYZ for the weekend), and the Nexus card includes GE – all for $50 (instead of $100).

  16. Global Entry does NOT guarantee access to TSA precheck EVERY time you fly. I recently had an itinerary without the TSA Precheck on the boarding pass and was NOT allowed to go through regardless of possession of the GE card. Big bummer : (((

  17. @Marina, sorry for the delayed response. Yes, anyone with TSAPre can be ‘randomly’ pulled out for extra screening. They also randomly not put TSAPre on the BP forcing one to go thru the regular lanes

  18. I inadvertently left my wallet home before a recent domestic flight, but was carrying my GE card. Airport security accepted it as ID, both for the flight and the TSAPre lane.

  19. All the major Canadian airports have US CBP pre clearance so travelers clear in Canada, and just walk off the plane like a domestic flight on arrival in US. Yesterday I was told I couldn’t use the Global Entry kiosks at Toronto’s pre clearance without showing the card. Of course the kiosks themselves required passports. Same happened last year to friends at Halifax pre clearance. Go figure.

  20. Pre check is available with all approved Global Entry. However, NOT ALL airlines allow Pre check. Most of the majors do, but a lot of the smaller ones DO NOT!

  21. Like TWD above, I was just denied the immediate access to the Global Entry kiosks in the Halifax airport without showing the Global Entry card. I’ve never been asked for it before, including do a similar entrance through US customs in the Dublin airport. We looked at the Canadian agent demanding to see the card, and tried to explain that we’ve never been asked for the card, and in fact have had TSA agents say leave it at home, and that the kiosks would take our passport. She just stared back at us and said, “So you don’t have the card?” and pointed us to the normal customs lane. After we got through the scanners, we just walked over the kiosks and tried them anyway. (They were not working well, and timed out while trying to verify our information, by which point I had finished working on the paper customs form, and went through normal customs.) So, go figure.

  22. This is a fascinating thread. My husband and I got Global Entry status in early July, with a Canadian air-travel trip coming later in the month. The interviewing agents told us we probably wouldn’t receive the cards before our trip, but, “no problem,” because all we needed was the proper status in the computer system. As it turned out, our cards DID come before our departure, but believing we needed them only for land border crossings, we left them at home.
    At the Calgary airport, the Canadian employee supervising the entrance to the U.S. Border Control area wanted us to show our cards before he would let us in – otherwise he said we needed to fill out the physical FORM and wait in the lo-o-o-ong line. We pleaded that we didn’t have our cards because our approval was too new (which wasn’t true, but was what the Global Entry interviewers had predicted), and he finally relented and let us in, warning that we’d probably have to come back out to him, wait in line, and fill out the darn form like everybody else.
    At GE the kiosks weren’t working properly, which was a disappointment, but the dedicated agent waved us up and processed us quickly, anyway.
    We found that in order to get expedited security screening we were supposed to show our cards, too (since Canada doesn’t recognize the TSA Precheck notation on boarding passes), but since it was early in the morning and not busy, the “gatekeeper” believed our claims of GE membership and we could go through the short line.
    The moral is: at Canadian airports, take your GE CARD, because that’s apparently what Canadians have to do with their NEXUS cards, and we’re expected to have a hard copy of proof to show, too.
    They ought to warn us at the GE interview!

  23. @Joan, thanks for sharing. This validates what we have been hearing. Canada seems to be the only exception so far, but I suspect this may be the case in all airports where CBP does immigration on the far side of the journey. GE kiosks are at the non-US airports in such cases, with local guards controlling access to them.

  24. Disadvantage of a nexus card rather than a GE card is that the Nexus card only works for Canada and Mexico. Global entry works everywhere. If you only travel to Mexico and Canada save $50 by getting the Nexus card. Otherwise, Global Entry may be better.

  25. At the time I write this, Dec 2016, After being approved for GE,
    1. You will need your passport to enter the US via all participating airports (almost all of them with international terminals.) to use the GE stations. Your GE card can only be useful if the stations don’t work and the staff at the terminal are nice enough need to prove you are GE member so as to process you faster.

    2. You will need your GE card to use the Sentri and/or Nexus lanes when you enter the US via all land (walk or drive) and sea border control stations. The GE card or your passport can be used to enter but only your GE card gives you permission to use the priority lanes.

    3. Your GE card cannot get you access to the priority lanes of Sentri and Nexus when you enter either Mexico or Canada by land or sea.

    4. Obviously your GE card or passport will not allow you to use any special privilege entry options any country including Mexico and Canada may have.

    5. Your GE card can be used in place of your ID, anywhere, as far as I know.

    6. Your GE membership number, or the known traveller number will get you access to be considered for PreTSA. You will need to provide this number when you book a flight or have it registered in your frequent flyer account of each airlines you are a member of. If you have a dedicated department at your company that arranges your travel, they might have an account for you too where you should have this number registered in as well.

  26. Yes, very much experiencing this issue real time in Vancouver. My wife and son are at the Canada security screening control who are refusing entry to the Global entry line without the card! My wife has her card, but my son’s GE card was not carried with him. So, need to stand in a 40 minutes line to get through because of this! Any one who has the Global entry – please carry your card if immigration is processed at the far-side where you are departing from (Canada, Mexico, Abu Dhabi etc.). We are learning it the hard way ๐Ÿ™

  27. When I had my interview for GE, I believe that the agent said they would mail me a card, which is only good as a SENTRI/NEXUS card at the land border with CA and MX. So 4 years later I appear at the CA land border, with my GE and was told it is NOT GOOD for entry into CA!

    Be warned, carry your passport, which I didn’t do—since I was sure these card were all I needed!

  28. I travel internationally frequently and I have never used my GE card. The passport at the kiosk has always been functional, but based on comments I will start bringing my GE card with me. I do know the GE card is good for a secondary id without showing your address.

  29. Is the Global Entry card good for entry into Canada via the non-NEXUS lanes or is the passport book required?

  30. @Jeff, the Global Entry card does NOT serve as an entry document into Canada. You will need a passport book/card.

  31. Thank you for clearing that up. The Global Entry site’s statement that “cards are not valid for entry into Canada via the NEXUS lanes and kiosks” is a bit ambiguous.

  32. Thanks for this thread. I have had trouble understanding why I have the card if it doesn’t work for and isn’t needed at the entry kiosks. I will now carry it with me (especially when traveling to Canada) for ID and for use when the kiosks are down. Great info.

  33. I have lost my GE card, and cannot find any guidance on replacing it on their web site, nor is their phone service helpful. Anyone have ideas how to go about this. After reading all these comments, it seems likely I’ll need it somewhere along the line.

  34. Stanley, when you log in to the CPB Trusted Traveler website – https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/, you will see a ‘replace card’ link right by your GE card record. It is as simple as clicking on that are requesting a replacement card. If you do not have a CBP login, you will need your PASSID from the back of your GE card. As you have lost the card, I hope you have that saved somewhere.

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