On the Spot: After losing Global Entry cards, must they re-interview?

(Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images)

Question: We applied for and received Global Entry status about two years ago. We lost our Global Entry cards on our recent trip to France. We reapplied for new cards, paid our $25 and are now being told we need another interview. Is this really the case? Can we use our passport, fingerprint, etc. upon re-entry without having the card in our possession?

Susan Rosenson

Los Angeles

Answer: If you have Global Entry, you can speed through re-entry into this country, and you also (usually) get to use the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck airport program that lets you in the keep-your-clothes-on line.


If you have paid your $100, have had an interview, have scanned in your fingerprints and you have been OK’d by Customs and Border Protection, Global Entry status is conferred upon you, and you get a cool little card in the mail that comes in a radio-frequency-identification-blocking sleeve. The card shows your Global Entry number, which you’ll need to input when you’re making airline reservations (or, if you’re a frequent flier, it should show up whenever you book with your favorite airline, and I use the word “favorite” loosely). You also may need it for some land border crossings.

However, having just undergone the Global Entry process, I remember the Customs and Border officer who interviewed me telling me not to bother to carry my card. A passport or a driver’s license is a better form of identification, she said, when making one’s way back into the country by air.

When the card arrived, I entered the number in a secure “electronic password vault” and put the card away with other important documentation. I won’t carry it with me because, frankly, it will be like a raincoat in the desert Southwest: I’ll forget about it and lose it because I probably will never need it.

When I re-entered the country recently, no one asked me for it. I needed only my passport and my fingerprints, both of which I carried with me, to avoid the long line. (By May of this year, those who have Global Entry used the kiosks 4.6 million times, according to a CBP fact sheet.)

The card, then, reminds me a bit of my college diploma: I have it, but no one has ever asked to see it as proof of having become an anointed one.

Does Rosenson need her card if she’s flying back to the U.S.? Here’s what Michael Friel, a spokesman for Customs and Border, said in an email: Because of privacy issues, he could not speak to this specific case. But, he added, “Members can use the kiosks even if they do not have the cards in their possession. Kiosk transactions are initiated by passports or legal permanent resident cards.”

One overlooked part of Global Entry is expedited status at land border crossings. Those programs are called Sentri (for Southwest border crossings) and Nexus (northern border), and Global Entry status may help speed you through. Global Entry cards, Friel noted, “are only required at the land borders when using the Nexus/Sentri lanes.”

There are some other issues to be aware of with Global Entry: Just because you pay your $100, you aren’t guaranteed Global Entry status. You don’t get a refund if you’re denied. If you get arrested after you get Global Entry, you’ll probably lose your Global Entry status. If you lose your passport, you will have to go through the process again. And Global Entry is good only for five years and then you must apply again.

As for the question of whether Rosenson needs to be re-interviewed to be strictly in compliance, probably so. But since she already has Global Entry status, will a second interview for a card she doesn’t really need keep us any safer?

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