We have had a few readers ask us how long does it take to get Global Entry because they applied months ago and have still not been conditionally approved. While the answer varies from person to person, it is clear that the average Global Entry processing time has drastically increased in the last two years.  We both previously applied to renew our Global Entry so we are sharing our personal experience with the Global Entry processing time as well.

How Long Does It Take To Get Global Entry?

If you are applying for Global Entry, the timing of how long it takes to be approved for Global Entry depends on how long it takes for each of the 2 steps:

1) For U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to review your application and conditionally approve you;  AND

2) How soon you can complete an interview after you are conditionally approved.  (If you are applying for Global Entry for the first time you are required to complete an in-person interview. However if you are applying to renew your Global Entry you might be approved instead of conditionally approved and not have to complete an interview.)

The focus of this post is on Step #1: the Global Entry conditional approval time. While you can somewhat control the timing for scheduling an interview, you can’t change how long it takes to be conditionally approved. See related post Scheduling Your Global Entry Interview Faster on how to schedule your Global Entry interview ASAP even if there are no appointments at your closest Global Entry enrollment center.

How Long Does Global Entry Conditional Approval Take?

According to this CBP page updated December 15, 2020, processing times vary by applicant but on average it can take within 6 months to be conditionally approved for Global Entry. Many people have been waiting much longer than 6 months.

The average wait time for conditional approval has significantly increased since late 2018. Before the 2018–2019 United States federal government shutdown, the average wait time was listed as 3 to 5 weeks. After the government shutdown ended in January 2019, the wait time increased to 11 weeks, increased again to 100 days in the summer 2019 and then to 3-5 months in the fall of 2019. COVID-19 further increased the delays in the processing time.

Our Personal Experience With the Global Entry Processing Time

I applied to renew my Global Entry on 12/18/2018 and was approved on 12/23/2018 (just 5 days later). My sister applied to renew her Global Entry on 01/28/2019 (the Monday when employees went back to work after the US government shutdown ended) and was approved on 04/07/2019 (almost 10 weeks later).

By comparison when we originally applied for Global Entry for the first time (we both applied on the same day) it took about 2-3 weeks for my application to be conditionally approved but my sister’s application took only about 1 week.

Other Data Points

According to online forums, the amount of time it is taking to be conditionally approved for Global Entry really does vary from person to person. There are spouses that apply for Global Entry the same day and one is conditionally approved in days while the other ends up waiting for weeks or months.

After reading other data points, it seems like Global Entry processing wait time is random and it is NOT a first in, first out process. There are people that applied after the government shutdown ended that were conditionally approved within days while some people that applied before or during the shutdown waited for weeks or months to be conditionally approved. Obviously it takes longer to complete some people’s background checks, but I think the timing mostly depends on which office your application is sent to and the speed of the employee assigned to review your application.

If you want to get an idea about how long the current Global Entry processing time is for other Global Entry applicants, see this thread on flyertalk for first time Global Entry applicants and this thread for Global Entry renewals.

Can You Expedite the Global Entry Approval Process?

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to speed up the Global Entry approval process until you are over what the CBP considers the average wait time.  Readers that have called the CBP have been told to wait until a certain number of days until they can escalate their application.  CBP has been telling applicants they need to wait until 6 months until their Global Entry application can be expedited.

Please note that if you are applying to renew Global Entry, make sure to apply before your Global Entry expires.  The CBP is giving applicants a 18 month grace period as long as you apply before the expiration date.  This way you will not be left without Global Entry while your renewal application is pending.

Unfortunately, it can take months to be approved for Global Entry and the wait time keeps getting longer and longer. For anyone that has recently applied for Global Entry how long did it take to be conditionally approved (or approved if renewing)?


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