Recently, I got back from my Global Entry interview. Therefore, I wanted to share my experience.
I know people have lots of questions about what getting into this trusted traveler program is all about.
Why you might want Global Entry
I’ve had TSA PreCheck for years. It’s the program that allows me to bypass long security lines at the airport. In addition, I don’t have to take out my laptop or remove my shoes when going through security.
Years ago we took a family trip to Spain. We flew in and out of JFK Airport in New York.
Because this is such a busy international airport, I shouldn’t have been surprised at how long the lines at customs were when we returned. However, I noticed many people just zipping through ahead of us. Later, I learned they had Global Entry.
Well, I’m taking my first international trip in six years this fall. And the friend I’m traveling with suggested I get Global Entry to speed my return to the United States.
We’re flying together through the Charlotte Airport in North Carolina. That’s where we’ll make our respective connections to our home airports.
Since she has Global Entry, I thought it would be a good idea if I got it, too. That way I wouldn’t hold her up in case we wanted to hang out during our layover.
Signing up for a Global Entry interview
I knew I’d have to have some sort of face-to-face Global Entry interview when I signed up. It was the same with TSA PreCheck.
Then, once I got TSA PreCheck, I could renew it online, which I did last summer.
So, I signed up on the Department of Homeland Security’s website for Customs and Border Protection. They have a Trusted Traveler Program page for five different programs.
- TSA PreCheck
- Global Entry
On that page it tells you how long you may have to wait to get into each of these programs. As of this writing, it says that Global Entry is taking four to six months.
However, that wasn’t my experience at all.
Getting conditional approval
Before you actually can sign up for a Global Entry Interview, you have to pay the $100 fee and get conditional approval. The latter involves answering an online questionnaire.
Plus, you have to have your passport in hand. If you’re currently waiting on a new passport or a passport renewal, you’ll have to hold off applying for Global Entry until you have your passport.
I did have my passport — I renewed it last year. So, on July 14 I filled out my application. Then, on July 15 I got an email from the Department of Homeland security, telling me that my status had changed.
When you get this email, it means you have conditional approval, which I did. Man, that was fast. Now to find a place to go in-person to do my Global Entry interview.
Paying for Global Entry
Pro tip: if you have a travel-related credit card, use that one to pay for your Global Entry application. I discovered that once every four years, travel-related credit cards will reimburse you the cost of the Global Entry fee.
So, I was thrilled to discover that one of my hotel credit cards did offer this benefit.
In fact, within 24 hours of using it to pay for my interview, I saw a credit back on my online statement for that $100. Wow.
Finally, the $100 fee is non-refundable, if you don’t end up getting approved for Global Entry. So make sure all of your paperwork ducks are in a row before applying so you don’t lose the fee for making a mistake.
Choosing a Global Entry interview location
Most major cities have at least one location where you can do a Global Entry interview in person. Many are at airports. However, not all are where you would expect them to be.
For example, I live in Maine now. So I assumed that I would go for an interview at Portland International Jetport.
Nope. If I chose a Maine interview, I would have to drive to Calais, Maine (pronounced cal-us, not cah-lay like the place in France) on the border with New Brunswick, Canada.
In fact, the closest interview location to me was actually at Boston Logan Airport. However, Logan didn’t have any interviews for at least six months. My international trip was three months from my application date.
Also, in places like New York City, yes, you can go to an airport for an interview. However, you have the option of visiting the U.S. Customs House federal building at Bowling Green in downtown Manhattan for an interview as well.
U.S. Global Entry locations
Here is a state-by-state list of where you can sign up to get an in-person Global Entry interview and where those Enrollment Centers are located.
If you live close to more than one enrollment center, I suggest you look at them all for appointments. I discovered that by driving a few hours more, I could get an interview a few weeks later.
Finally, in writing this article and researching each of the places listed below, I discovered that some locations had next day availability.
Now onto the list of state locations.
Alabama Enrollment Centers
- Huntsville International Airport
- Mobile Regional Airport Enrollment Center
Alaska Enrollment Centers
- Ted Stevens International Airport
- Fairbanks Enrollment Center
Arizona Enrollment Centers
- Douglas Enrollment Center
- Phoenix Sky Harbor Global Entry Enrollment Center
- San Luis Enrollment Center
- Tucson Enrollment Center
California Enrollment Centers
Note: the location in Long Beach, CA, is permanently closed.
- Calexico Enrollment Center
- Los Angeles International Global Entry
- San Diego Otay Mesa Enrollment Center
- San Diego International Airport
- San Francisco Airport, International Arrival Level
Colorado Enrollment Center
- Denver International Airport
Connecticut Enrollment Center
- Bradley International Airport Enrollment Center, International Arrivals Building/ Terminal B, Windsor Locks/Hartford
Delaware Enrollment Center
- New Castle Wilmington Enrollment Center
District of Columbia
- Washington, DC Enrollment Center
Florida Enrollment Centers
- Fort Lauderdale Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Fort Lauderdale International Airport, Terminal 1
- Fort Pierce, Treasure Coast International Airport
- Miami International Airport
- Orlando International Airport
- Sanford Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Tampa International Airport
- West Palm Beach Enrollment Center
Georgia Enrollment Center
- Atlanta International Global Entry EC Jackson International Terminal
- Guam International Airport
Hawaii Enrollment Center
- Honolulu Enrollment Center
Idaho Enrollment Center
- Boise Enrollment Center
Illinois Enrollment Centers
- Chicago O’Hare International Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Chicago Field Office Enrollment Center
- Moline Quad Cities International Airport
- Peoria International Airport
- Rockford-Chicago International Airport
Indiana Enrollment Center
- South Bend International Airport
Iowa Enrollment Center
- Des Moines Global Entry Enrollment Center
Kentucky Enrollment Center
- Cincinnati Enrollment Center, Erlanger
Louisiana Enrollment Center
- New Orleans Enrollment Center
Maine Enrollment Center
- Calais Enrollment Center
Maryland Enrollment Center
- Baltimore Washington (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport
Massachusetts Enrollment Center
- Boston-Logan Global Entry Enrollment Center, Logan International Airport, Terminal E
Michigan Enrollment Centers
- Detroit Enrollment Center, Downtown Detroit
- Detroit Metro Airport, Detroit Evans Terminal
- Port Huron Enrollment Center
- Sault Ste Marie Enrollment Center
Minnesota Enrollment Centers
- Grand Portage
- International Falls Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Minneapolis – St. Paul Airport
- Warroad Enrollment Center
Mississippi Enrollment Center
- Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport
Missouri Entrollment Centers
- Kansas City Enrollment Center
- Springfield – Branson National Airport
- St. Louis Enrollment Center
Montana Enrollment Centers
- Belgrade: SEAFO – Bozeman Airport
- Sweetgrass NEXUS and FAST Enrollment Center
- Sweetgrass Global Entry Enrollment Center
Nebraska Enrollment Center
- Omaha, NE Enrollment Center
Nevada Enrollment Center
- Las Vegas Enrollment Center, 5757 Wayne Newton Blvd Terminal 3
New Jersey Enrollment Center
- Newark Liberty International Airport
New Mexico Enrollment Center
- Albuquerque International Sunport
New York Enrollment Centers
- Champlain Enrollment Center
- JFK International Airport Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Albany Airport Enrollment
- U.S. Custom House – Bowling Green, Manhattan
- Niagara Falls Enrollment Center
- Ogdensburg (Ogdensburg Enrollment Center)
North Carolina Enrollment Center
- Charlotte-Douglas International Airport
North Dakota Enrollment Centers
- Fargo Global Entry Workshop
- Pembina Global Entry Enrollment Center)
Ohio Enrollment Centers
Note: The center nearest to Cincinnati is actually in Kentucky
- Cleveland U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Port Clinton, Ohio Enrollment Center
- Dayton Enrollment Center
Oregon Enrollment Center
- Portland, OR Enrollment Center
Pennsylvania Enrollment Centers
- Harrisburg Enrollment Center
- Philadelphia International Airport
- Pittsburgh International Airport
Puerto Rico Enrollment Center
- San Juan Global Entry Enrollment Center, Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)
Rhode Island Enrollment Center
- Warwick, RI Enrollment Center
Tennessee Enrollment Centers
- Tri-Cities Airport Enrollment Center
- Memphis International Airport Global Enrollment Center
- Nashville Enrollment Center
Texas Enrollment Centers
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
- Brownsville Enrollment Center
- Del Rio Enrollment Center
- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Global Entry, Terminal D
- Eagle Pass Enrollment Center
- El Paso Enrollment Center
- Hidalgo Enrollment Center
- Houston Hobby Airport Enrollment Center (boarding pass required to enter)
- Houston Intercontinental Global Entry Enrollment Center
- Laredo Enrollment Center
- San Antonio International Airport
Utah Enrollment Center
- Salt Lake City International Airport
Vermont Enrollment Center
- Derby Line Enrollment Center
Virginia Enrollment Centers
- Norfolk Enrollment Center, U.S. Customs House
- Richmond, VA Enrollment Center
- Washington Dulles International Global Entry Enrollment Center, Arrivals Main Terminal
Washington State Enrollment Centers
- Blaine Global Entry Enrollment Center
- SeaTac International Airport Global Entry Enrollment Center
Wisconsin Enrollment Center
- Milwaukee Enrollment Center
Global Entry on arrival
After I’d made my appointment for my interview, I got an email from Customs and Border Protection that I had qualified to do my Global Entry interview on arrival. That is, when I got back from my next international trip, I could simply do the interview, literally, on arrival back at the airport.
Considering the wait time for popular places to do your in-person interview, I could see how that would be an attractive option.
In that email, I received a list of international airports that would have allowed me to do my Global Entry interview on arrival back from my trip.
Where Global Entry on arrival is offered
- Austin-Bergstrom Airport (AUS)
- Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
- Aeropuerto Internacional Reina Beatrix in Oranjestad, Aruba (AUA)
- Baltimore/Washington Airport (BWI)
- Boston Logan Airport (BOS)
- Buffalo Niagara Airport (BUF)
- Calgary Airport (YYC)
- Charlotte Douglas Airport (CLT)
- Chicago Midway Airport (MDW)
- Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG)
- Cleveland Hopkins Airport (CLE)
- Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW)
- Denver Airport (DEN)
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
- Dublin Airport (DUB)
- Edmonton Airport (YEG)
- Fairbanks Airport (FAI)
- Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport (FLL)
- Fresno Yosemite Airport (FAT)
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston
- Halifax Airport (YHZ)
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport (ATL)
- Honolulu Airport (HNL)
- John F. Kennedy Airport in New York (JFK)
- John Glenn Columbus Airport (CMH)
- Kansas City Airport (MCI)
- Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
- Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport (MSY)
- Metropolitan Oakland Airport (OAK)
- McCarran Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas
- Miami Airport (MIA)
- Minneapolis St. Paul Airport (MSP)
- Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport (YUL)
- Luis Munoz Marin Airport San Juan (SJU)
- Lynden Pindling Nassau Airport (NAS)
- Newark Liberty Airport (EWR)
- Norman Y. Mineta San Jose Airport(SJC)
- O’Hare Airport (ORD) in Chicago
- Ontario Airport (ONT) in California
- Orlando Airport (MCO)
- Orlando Sanford Airport (SFB)
- Ottawa Airport (YOW)
- Philadelphia Airport (PHL)
- Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX)
- Portland Airport (PDX)
- Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU)
- Reno-Tahoe Airport (RNO)
- Sacramento Airport (SMF)
- Salt Lake City Airport (SLC)
- San Antonio Airport (SAT)
- San Diego Airport (SAN)
- San Francisco Airport (SFO)
- Seattle Tacoma Airport (SEA)
- Shannon Airport (SNN)
- St. George’s Bermuda Airport (BDA)
- St. Louis Lambert Airport (STL)
- Tampa Airport (TPA)
- Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport (ANC)
- Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ)
- Vancouver Airport (YVR)
- Washington Dulles Airport (IAD)
- Houston Hobby Airport (HOU)
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Airport(YWG)
Global Entry interview on departure?
Interestingly, there is at least one international airport where you can get a Global Entry interview on departure. And that would be Shannon Airport in Ireland.
That’s because when you leave Ireland through the Shannon Airport, you actually go through U.S. Customs before you board the airplane. This is what happened after we flew home from our 2017 Ireland trip, which include our Game of Thrones tour — we cleared customs at the Shannon Airport before we even left Ireland.
Recently, friends of our flew home through the same airport. And because they had pending Global Entry interviews back in the states, the Customs and Border Patrol agents at Shannon did their interview on the spot in Ireland. A week later they had their Global Entry cards in the mail.
What to expect at your Global Entry interview
I thought that my Global Entry interview would be just like my TSA PreCheck interview. I’d go to this nondescript building in a business area, sit in a crowded waiting room that felt a lot like the DMV and wait for hours to be called.
Boy, was I wrong. I ended up choosing the Calais, Maine, location for my interview. We coupled it with a trip to Bangor, Maine (yes, we took pictures of Stephen King’s home) and then Bar Harbor, Maine, on Mount Desert Island. Also, a drive around Acadia National Park. But, I’m getting off topic.
The Calais Maine Enrollment Center is a little white building that sits on the banks of the St. Croix river. That river is the border with New Brunswick, Canada. I could have walked to Canada from my interview spot.
Waiting for the interview
When we arrived, another couple was waiting for their Global Entry interview. They were sitting outside in their car.
My appointment was at 11:15. However, we arrived more than an hour early — at 10:00 a.m.
There was a sign on the door that asked people to wait in their cars until their appointment time. Well, we did drive by a Tim Horton’s location into town. So, we thought about leaving to get coffee and donuts and then come back.
However, at that moment, a Customs and Border Patrol agent came outside with a clipboard. They asked what my name was and what time my appointment was.
They told me that there was one couple inside doing an interview, the folks in the car next to me were next and then it would be my turn. So, in other words, they might take me early.
I’d heard that some people with interviews in busy locations had to wait hours — again, like the DMV. However, as suggested, they called me in about 45 minutes early. They even let my husband and our two dogs come inside since the place was air conditioned and it was a hot summer morning.
What happens during the interview
I knew I had to bring my passport to the interview. However, you’re also supposed to bring a second form of ID to prove that you’re a resident. My Maine drivers license was good enough.
Then, the interview began. However, it really wasn’t an interview. One, they took my picture — no glasses and no smiling. I’m sure this is for facial recognition.
Two, they fingerprinted me. Well, it was done digitally. It was quick and easy. I’d been fingerprinted for TSA PreCheck as well.
Then, three, the CBP agent asked me a few questions to confirm the information on my passport, what my mailing address was and if I’d ever gone by any other names.
And that was it. It was fast and easy. We never even sat down at a desk and had a formal interview, per se. This was all done while standing at a counter, in about 10 minutes.
Amazingly, about 30 minutes after my interview ended, I got an email saying that my status had changed — just like it did when I learned I’d been conditionally approved. And this time around it was to tell me that I had qualified for Global Entry.
The last step in the process will be getting my Global Entry card mailed to me. That could take as long as four weeks. However, that’s still plenty of time before my October international trip.
My takeaway from the Global Entry interview
Even though this was an interview with me for the Global Entry program, I asked them what would happen with my TSA PreCheck number. As I mentioned earlier, I’d just renewed it last year. Plus, I knew that if you got Global Entry, TSA PreCheck came with it, too, for free.
They told me that I would get a new TSA PreCheck number when I got my Global Entry card mailed to me. Therefore, I should update my KTN — Known Traveler Number — in any of my airline or other travel profiles.
Then, I should let the other, old TSA PreCheck number just fade away. Because in five years when I renew Global Entry, it will renew TSA PreCheck as well.
Tip from the CBP agent
After asking about TSA PreCheck, the agent offered us a few tips. This was because my husband, Bill, still needed to get Global Entry at some point in the future.
One, they said, remember that Global Entry costs $100. And when you go to apply, make sure you’re on the Trusted Traveler page of the Department of Homeland Security website ending in dot G-O-V. The URL is https://ttp.dhs.gov/.
They said that they had two people earlier that morning who’d been scammed after Googling Global Entry interviews or something like that. Therefore, they lost the money and couldn’t do the interview they showed up for because CBP had no record of them.
Nexus versus Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck
Then, two, they suggested that since we live close to Canada, we really should apply for Nexus when Global Entry is up for renewal. Nexus is designed for people who drive over the border. However, they said, it comes with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. Plus, it only costs $50.
Now, as someone with a journalism background, I had to fact check this once I got back home. The CBP agent was half right.
One, Nexus doesn’t technically also give you Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. However, people with a Nexus card can use Global Entry kiosks when returning to the United States at participating airports (my emphasis).
What are those participating airports? I’ll need to track them down and report back.
And two, you don’t get a TSA PreCheck number when you get Nexus (or Global Entry for that matter). Instead, the membership number you get with Global Entry works in place of the Known Traveler Number you get when you have TSA PreCheck.
Here is how the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website explains it:
“If you are an eligible Global Entry, NEXUS or SENTRI member, enter your membership number (PASS ID) in the “Known Traveler Number” field when booking reservations, or enter it into your frequent flyer profile with the airline. The membership number enables Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight System to verify that you are a legitimate CBP Trusted Traveler and eligible to participate in TSA PreCheck®.”
Additional questions about the Global Entry Interview
In researching this article after my own interview, I came across some common questions about Global Entry. I hope this gives you the answers you seek. If not, let me know.
What should you bring to your Global Entry interview?
Definitely bring your United States Passport. Also, you’ll want to bring something that proves you reside in the United States.
In my case, my drivers license was sufficient. However, a mortgage statement, rental payment statement, utility bill or something else that proves residency could work, too.
Can I do a virtual interview for Global Entry?
Turns out there’s only one class of applicants that can do a virtual Global Entry interview. And that would be people who are renewing an existing Global Entry account.
If you’ve let it lapse or it’s been more than 10 years since you first got Global Entry, you probably cannot. However, if you have fingerprints on file, you were older than 14 when you first got Global Entry and your picture was taken under 10 years ago, then you may have that virtual option.
Can I just walk in for a Global Entry interview?
Well, yes and no. Yes, if you’re doing a Global Entry on Arrival, as described above. And yes if you’ve already applied and been conditionally approved, and you arrive with someone else who has an appointment.
In other words, at my Global Entry interview, we asked if they could process my husband, too. They said they could, as long as he’d done the online application, paid the $100 fee and was conditionally approved.
Since he hadn’t done any of that, it was a hard no on the walk-in interview. Too bad, too. It would have been so convenient.
How long does Global Entry last?
Your Global Entry status stays active for five years. Then, you’ll need to renew. Like I said earlier, if you have a travel credit card, definitely use it to pay for the application like I did. Because you’ll be reimbursed for the fee.
What should I wear to my Global Entry interview?
On the day of my interview, it was a hot summer day. So I wore a short sleeve top and flowy summer pants — floral palazzo or wide-leg pants — and sandals. The people in front of me for interviews had on either khaki pants or white jeans and casual button down shirts or tops. No one was in suits or dresses or anything fancy.
How long after your interview do you get approval?
I can’t speak to everyone’s experience, but I received an email about 30 minutes after my interview that I’d been approved. The friend I’m traveling with said it took less than a day for her to be approved.
So, if our experience is indicative of others, you should hear back fairly quickly. In fact, with the pre-interview, conditional approval, I don’t know why they would have someone progress to the interview stage and not approve them if they didn’t pass muster during the conditional approval.