The Secret Way to Get Global Entry Fast

There are currently long waits for Global Entry interviews. But there’s a secret way to cut the line.

Want to Get Global Entry Fast? Here’s How to Speed Up the Process

When you arrive tired from an international flight, you’ll be glad you have Global Entry.

Photo by James Tourtellotte/U.S. Customs and Border Patrol

→ Sign up: Appointment Scanner, $29 for one month of alerts,

Airport security and customs lines can be long and dispiriting—but if you think waiting for an hour to get to the departure lounge is a lot, try waiting for a Global Entry appointment.

With travel more popular than ever, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, two excellent ways to skip much of the airport security and customs lines, are massively in demand. PreCheck saves you time at the initial TSA security screening, while Global Entry also works at customs after you return to the United States from abroad. PreCheck is $78 while Global Entry will set you back $100 (but also includes TSA PreCheck) and both are valid for five years. (There’s also Clear, which works with biometric technology.)
However, to score a Global Entry or PreCheck membership, you can’t just apply online. You also need to show up, with some documentation including a passport and one other form of identification, for a physical interview at one of the enrollment centers where a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will take your photo, scan your fingerprints, and ask a few questions.

The Global Entry process is lengthy; processing times are currently listed as four to six months and interview slots were booked up at various airports for two to three months on the official site at time of writing. It’s not uncommon to suffer a long wait for a relatively short interview—even after you’ve paid the money and been conditionally approved.

When I signed up and handed over my money in June 2022, I was given this for a Los Angeles appointment:

DHS enrollment wait times for Global Entry.

The wait time in Los Angeles was real.

Thankfully, wait times have dropped a bit since then, but they’re still significant. That’s where Appointment Scanner comes in. It’s a service for people who have filled out their online application, paid the fee, received conditional approval, and need to find an in-person appointment. It constantly scans the Trusted Traveler site looking for canceled and rescheduled appointments for the Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI programs (the latter two also offer expedited clearance for prescreened travelers).
The service will then send you texts and emails alerting you to when a slot opens at your chosen location (of over 100 enrollment centers). At that point, you can jump on the Trusted Traveler Programs site and try to grab that coveted appointment. The service costs $29, a one-time payment for one month of alerts. You can opt for text or email alerts, and choose the three most convenient enrollment centers. If you haven’t secured an appointment in that time, you’d need to sign up again.

The Appointment Scanner site explains the process clearly.

The Appointment Scanner site explains the process clearly.

Screenshot from

It’ll take a few goes, and Appointment Scanner admits, “We can’t promise you’ll be able to schedule an interview. It takes some quick reflexes on your part, and it’s competitive after all–that’s why you’re here!”
But the site adds that, “The average user gets between 10 and 25 appointment alerts per day, so you’ll have many opportunities to grab a convenient appointment in no time.”
You can ask for a refund within 30 days if you weren’t successful, and unsubscribe to the alerts if you are.
Personally, I found that few alerts came in during the day when I was chained to my laptop, but I got a lot in the evening. I also logged on after an alert a few times only to find they were no longer available. Eventually I received notice of two different slots for the following day, and managed to secure one. I was in and out of the enrollment center near LAX airport within ten minutes.
Even if you don’t want to pay the $29, it pays to be persistent. Refreshing your browser and just dedicating a few hours to keeping an eye on the Trusted Traveler Programs site can pay off. AFAR’s senior e-commerce editor, Lyndsey Matthews, got lucky with a Global Entry renewal, which was due in July 2022.
“I started the application the other week and didn’t think I needed to do the interview again for a renewal. Turns out I did, since I was only conditionally approved for renewal,” she says. “While the system says there’s still a Zoom option, dates weren’t available for years. Thankfully, when I clicked in for an in-person interview, I was able to find one available appointment for the very next day at the Bowling Green office in NYC, so I didn’t have to schlep out to the airport.”
Good luck out there, people.

This article originally appeared online in 2022; it was most recently updated on Sept 15, 2023, to include current information.

Tim Chester is a deputy editor at AFAR, focusing primarily on destination inspiration and sustainable travel. He lives near L.A. and likes spending time in the waves, on the mountains, or on wheels.
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