Schedule Your Global Entry Interview Sooner

Recently, I walked through my personal experience applying for, interviewing, and finally getting approved for Global Entry.  Becky and I didn’t end up applying at the same time because we wanted to use the Global Entry fee reimbursement benefit from a credit card to cover the $100 application fee and only had one card that offered it at the time (the Citi Prestige).  With our upcoming Cancun vacation scheduled for early next year and my application approved, we started looking for another credit card that could cover Becky’s fee so it would cost us nothing out of pocket.  That card came in the form of an Amex Platinum card that offers the $100 Global Entry reimbursement along with a whole slew of additional benefits on top that we’ll be able to take advantage of.  Once that card arrived in the mail, Becky filled out the application and was conditionally approved about a week later.  Unfortunately, the next available appointment at our local airport (Seatac) was almost 3 months away!  With a little persistence though, we were able to move the appointment up and should even be able to use the TSA Pre-Check benefit on our trip home for the holidays!  I’ll walk through our strategy below.

global entry

Seatac Was Booked for Months

After Becky received the conditional Global Entry approval and was asked to schedule her interview, logging into the GOES website showed no availability until mid-February!  We had a domestic trip back home and an international trip to Cancun before that time, so we were hopeful we could get the process finished earlier than the currently available options.

Keep in mind, the timing constraint was entirely our own doing as we waited just a few months before our international trip to even apply for Global Entry.  While the conditional approval typically comes within a few weeks of applying, there was no guarantee Becky would even get that with enough time left before our trips.  If you have a trip planned and want to utilize Global Entry, I recommend leaving plenty of months between applying and your trip.  That way you barely have to worry about the appointment availability in the first place!

Despite our decision to delay applying, we knew it would be nice to try finishing out the process before our next upcoming trip.  Who doesn’t want to skip lines whenever possible!

Two Options: Keep Checking or Relocate

First, Becky chose an appointment several months out to get in the system as having a scheduled interview.  The process requires you to book an appointment within 30 days of receiving the conditional approval, but you do NOT have to complete the interview within 30 days.  That’s an important distinction.  In our case, it appeared it wasn’t even possible to complete it within 30 days!

Luckily, they let you reschedule the appointment as many times as desired directly through the GOES website which is fairly painless to navigate.

Once we had the initial appointment scheduled, there were two different options for trying to move it up to a closer date.  We could either continue checking the GOES website on a regular basis and hope appointments open up at our preferred airport OR we could choose a different airport that has much more appointment availability.

Looking at Other Locations

Depending on where you are located, the closest Global Entry interview location might not have a scheduling problem at all.  A few random airports that I checked seemed to have wide open availability every day more than a few days out from the present.  While it might not be feasible (or worth it) to drive to a different location than your preferred location, it is an option to keep in mind if you REALLY want to get the interview finished before your next trip.

In addition to just looking at interview locations within driving distance, you also can try checking out interview locations that line up with your current travel.  If you’re going to be traveling anyway, it might work out with your schedule that you can simply complete the interview on the road.  If you don’t live near ANY interview locations, this may be your only option to finish the Global Entry process.

That first trip we have coming up ourselves does happen to take us fairly close to a different interview location that seems to have wide open availability.  Going down that road would allow us to be good to go for our next international trip, but would be rather inconvenient.  As we’re going to be plenty busy with visiting family and other plans, even just spending a couple extra hours completing the interview on this trip might not be worth benefit of getting Global Entry sooner.  Let’s look at the other option:

Persistence May Pay Off

From what I’ve read, Seatac consistently has a multi-month delay in scheduling Global Entry interviews.  While that means you most likely won’t see any availability the first time you check, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with the first time you pick.  Spots will open up whenever someone cancels or moves their own interview, so continuing to check the GOES website might pay off with an earlier appointment.

Becky implemented this strategy by manually checking the available appointments once or twice a day after scheduling the initial one months out.  About a week went by with nothing opening up, but the next morning, an appointment was available for the next week!  The available slot worked out perfectly with Becky’s work schedule and she jumped on it.

One week later, we were both officially approved for Global Entry!  Based on what she told me, I think her interview was even easier than mine.

Final Steps

Once Becky was approved, I made sure to add both of our Known Traveler Numbers (KTNs) to all of the travel we’ve already booked for next year.  With any luck, we should be good to go for TSA Pre-Check on our flights later this month.  Don’t forget to do this yourself once you get approved.

Another note is that you will be sent a photo-id Global Entry card, but based on everything I’ve read it’s NOT necessary to bring it for most international travel.  Your passport will act as the identification with the Global Entry kiosks upon entry into the country.  The only exception to this is using the SENTRI lanes when driving across the US/Mexico border, that is when having the card is necessary to use the special lanes.

Overall, I expect Global Entry to be a nice perk when traveling from now on.  The primary benefit is taking the “fast lane” when going through security and re-entering the country which will save us a little time on our travels.  Paying the $100 may or may not be worth it depending on where and how often you travel, but it’s hard to go wrong when credit card benefits make it free!

Do you have any other tips for how to get a Global Entry interview faster?

9 thoughts to “Schedule Your Global Entry Interview Sooner”

    1. We’re both approved and good to go at this point, but that’s a good tip for anyone else in the Seattle area who wants an earlier Global Entry interview. Thanks

  1. In LAS, I just kept checking the page. After a day or two of checking a slot came up that was only a couple of days away.

    1. Continuing to check the schedule paid off for us too. Other people’s schedules change frequently and things come up that cause others to change, so continually checking will allow you to grab one of those slots

  2. If I click the ‘reschedule’ button on the GOES website to look for better appointment times, will my existing interview be cancelled? Or will it remain unchanged until I pick a new time? I’d love to get in earlier (and preferably within a 30 minute drive instead of 4 hours) but do not want to risk losing my current time.

    1. When I did this myself, looking for new appointment times did not cancel the original appointment unless you found something and then confirmed you wanted to re-book. Best of luck finding a good time that works for you!

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