Aug 8, 2023 - News

San Diego travelers have a long wait for Global Entry

Illustration of a briefcase covered in passport stamps

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

San Diego travelers hoping to get in on the Global Entry program — designed to speed up re-entry after international trips — should gear up for a long wait.

The big picture: Surging international travel demand is fueling record applications and long waits for Global Entry, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

  • San Diego is one of a handful of cities, including Portland and Salt Lake City, with wait times stretching into next year.

State of play: The next available in-person appointment — the final step in the process — at the Otay Mesa Enrollment Center near the Mexico border is on June 13, 2024.

  • That's 310 days to complete enrollment, more than triple the average time it took to enroll in 2022, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.
  • If you can't get an interview before your international trip, CBP also offers travelers Enrollment on Arrival at the San Diego International Airport for conditionally approved Global Entry applicants.

The intrigue: Travelers arriving on international flights at SAN can complete their interviews on site without a pre-scheduled appointment.

  • Average monthly enrollments of this type have nearly doubled from 30,000 in spring 2022 to 59,000 so far this fiscal year, data shows.
  • Appointment slots at the airport are full through Aug. 25, according to CBP.

How it works: After landing in an international terminal, follow the signs for "Enrollment on Arrival" to complete your interview with a CBP officer.

  • You'll need a passport and documents proving residency like a standard interview.

Of note: Cancellations can change appointment availability, so check the website for earlier opportunities.

Between the lines: Americans don't need Global Entry for international travel like a passport, but they're signing up for the "Trusted Traveler Program" at a record pace.

  • CBP is on track to receive 3.2 million-plus Global Entry applications for the 2023 fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30.
  • This would beat the record of 2.95 million applications set during the government agency's 2022 fiscal year.

Be smart: The first Monday of each month is a good time to check for an interview.


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