My Global Entry renewal experience (success on arrival)

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I recently had to renew my Global Entry card for the second time since originally signing up.  My previous renewal was a piece of cake.  I did it entirely online and an interview wasn’t required.  This time, an interview was required.  Booking an in-person interview is nearly impossible these days, so I quickly abandoned that idea.  Next, I booked a Zoom interview, but that process completely failed.  Finally, I did the easiest of all: Renewal on Arrival.  That worked like a charm!

a person holding a cell phone

What is Global Entry?  Global Entry is a program that allows trusted travelers expedited reentry to the United States.  Having Global Entry means you can avoid long lines when returning from an international trip.  Global Entry also automatically gives you TSA Precheck.  Within the U.S., this allows you to go through the TSA security Precheck lines where you don’t have to take off your shoes nor remove anything like liquids or laptops from your bag, and you’ll usually go through a metal detector instead of a full body scanner.

Renew online

The first step of the renewal process can be done entirely online.  The only hard part was listing all of the countries I’ve been in the last 7 years.  Luckily I organize all of my trips with Tripit and so it was easy to scan through past trips to find where I’ve been.  I then paid with a credit card that reimburses Global Entry or TSA Precheck fees.  In this case I paid with an Amex Platinum card, but I could have also used the Capital One Venture X, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or really any of countless other cards that offer this feature.

a screenshot of a computer
I paid the Global Entry fee with a card that reimburses these fees. The reimbursement came automatically 3 days after payment.

Two days after submitting my renewal application, my renewal was conditionally approved, pending an interview.  The latter part was disappointing.  When I had previously renewed, no interview was required.  This time I wasn’t so lucky.

In Person Interview Scheduling

I tried to schedule an in-person interview at the Detroit airport, but nothing was available.  That was OK because I was offered a better option: a remote interview via Zoom!

Remote Interview via Zoom

a screenshot of a computer screen

Apparently I qualified for the Remote Interview Pilot for Trusted Traveler Programs because I had the option to sign up for an interview over Zoom.  Awesome!  And there were plenty of good timeslots available for me.  Double awesome!  I scheduled an appointment for 9:15pm on September 2nd.

At the correct date and time (and yes Gary, I double checked the time zone) I clicked to join the meeting.  The result was a pop-up that said “Please wait for the host to start this meeting.”  I waited and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  After about two hours I gave up.  No Zoom meeting for me!

The next day I tried to book another Zoom meeting (it was so great the first time after all), but I couldn’t find any availability.

Interview on Arrival

a man in uniform holding a passport to a woman
This stock image shows a possibly fictional passport control officer and traveler.

Whether you’re getting your Global Entry card for the first time or renewing it, a great alternative to scheduling an interview appointment is to ask for an interview when re-entering the United States.  Some of the same agents who process U.S. passport control are authorized to do your Global Entry interview.  I recently did this when returning from Toronto.

In major airports in Canada and a few other countries (Aruba, Bermuda, Ireland, The Bahamas, and the UAE), the United States handles passport control in the foreign country.  In all other cases, you’ll clear passport control after arriving at an airport in the United States.  Either way, at a large number of airports it’s possible to do your interview right there when returning from traveling internationally.  You can find a full list of eligible airports here.

In my case, since my old Global Entry was still valid, I cleared security then went to one of the Global Entry kiosks to scan my passport (note that at some locations the kiosks now just take a picture of your face), then I proceeded to the final step where agents in booths welcome you to the United States.  In this case, though, before going to an open booth, I asked someone if I could do an interview on arrival.  I was told to wait a minute while they checked if the guy who did this was currently available.  He was.  I was directed to his booth and he asked me a few simple questions.  Apparently my answers were adequate because he then took a new set of fingerprints with the scanner and took my photo so that they could make a new Global Entry card for me.  And I was on my way.  I honestly think that the entire process took only about 2 or 3 minutes longer than if I didn’t do the interview at all.  The process definitely won’t be that quick for everyone (see comments for examples).  In my case, very few people were going through passport control at that time. If you go through at a busy time I expect that they wait will be much longer and/or you might even be told that they cannot do the interview when they’re overcrowded.

Bottom Line

If you’re struggling to get an interview for Global Entry enrollment or renewal, consider doing the interview on arrival when returning to the United States.  I can’t promise it will work as smoothly for you, but for me it was a breeze.

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