My Global Entry Interview Review

Last summer, I went for a Global Entry interview. I know people have lots of questions about what getting into this trusted traveler program is all about. Therefore, I wanted to share my experience and write this review of the Global Entry interview process.

Global Entry card (Trusted traveller) covered of Passport of United states on white background.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

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.

UPDATE: I’m back from my trip abroad. Here is the text exchange I had with my husband about my Global Entry experience.

text about global entry

Bottom line: Global Entry was even better than I could have imagined. No line, no bag search, just step up to the digital podium, got my face scanned and I was cleared through. I’m so glad I took the time to go for a Global Entry interview.

Signing up for a Global Entry interview

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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, in advance of the expiration date.

So, I signed up on the Department of Homeland Security’s website for Customs and Border Protection. Previously, the Customs and Border Protection was known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. They have a Trusted Traveler Program page for five different programs that are available to U.S. citizens. Some of these are available to the lawful permanent residents as well.

They are:

  • TSA PreCheck
  • Global Entry
  • Nexus
  • Sentri
  • FAST

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 application fee upfront and get conditional approval. The latter involves answering an online questionnaire. You have to do this before you can even schedule an appointment or find out what the appointment schedule even looks like. That’s all that is involved in the application process — at least the online part.

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.

Another thing to keep in mind: don’t forget to get your Real ID driver’s license before the deadline.

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 offer reimbursement for the cost of the Global Entry fee. If you travel a lot, this can more than make up for the card’s annual 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.

Other credit cards with reimbursement benefits

Other travel credit cards with this benefit include many in the American Express family, including:

  • American Express Gold Corporate Card Members
  • Consumer Platinum Card® Members
  • Corporate Platinum Card Members
  • Business Platinum Card Members
  • Consumer Centurion® Members
  • Corporate Centurion® Members
  • Business Centurion® Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Card Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business Card Members
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business Card Members
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card Members

I know that American Express also has a Hilton-affiliate travel credit card. I’m surprised it isn’t on this list as well.

Also, you’ll find credit cards associated with major airlines, like Delta, will qualify, too. Both United and Southwest Airlines have credit cards that should refund you the Global Entry application fee if you pay using them. This includes the United Explorer Card, which is one of the cheaper travel cards to own.

In addition, there are credit cards not affiliated with a hotel or airline that have this benefit. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Side note: the Chase Sapphire Reserve has many other benefits that come with it, including the ability to save on a Peloton membership.

Another card that works for a reimbursed fee for applying to Global Entry is Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Side note: the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card also gets you entry into Capital One Airport Lounges, some of which have Peloton bikes.

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.

Non-U.S. Citizens can get Global Entry, too

I didn’t know that you don’t have to be a U.S. citizen to get Global Entry. Yes, I realized that lawful permanent residents can apply. However, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, citizens from the following countries may also apply for Global Entry:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • India
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan

Also, Mexican nationals are eligible to apply for Global Entry.

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

  • 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 Enrollment 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.

Global Entry sign at airport. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

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 Elliott 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 ours 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.

Calais, Maine Global Entry Enrollment Center. Photo credit: Leah Ingram.

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 benefits come with it, too, for free. This gives you the option for expedited security screenings on domestic flights through a special airport security line. Just look for the TSA PreCheck sign when you get to the security screening area.

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, 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.

Nexus only lane at Windsor Detroit tunnel entrance. Frequent traveler program fast lane at land border between Canada and USA
Nexus-only lane at Windsor-Detroit tunnel entrance. Photo credit: Adobe Stock.

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 flier 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.

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