Global Entry Interview at IAH: Get Through Immigration Faster

Finding the place for the Global Entry interview with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was the hardest part of the process. The office is located on the lower level of the international terminal E in the far corner next to a small Starbucks kiosk. The signage is very small. The problem is that there is a Starbucks everywhere, so I went to the wrong one first and lost about 15 minutes. Fortunately, there were some customs officers waking the concourse and they offered to guide me. See GOES website for application details.

If you are flying in to Houston from elsewhere you need to leave the secure area and take the stairs or elevator down to the area where the international flights arrive. The office is tucked into the corner. Of course, you need to make an appointment online in order be interviewed, which is the second part of the application process and requires approval.

So, I walked in and sat down in a small area with two officers at a desk. I was acknowledged immediately, checked in, signed a form, and provided my passport, driver’s license, and preliminary approval letter. Then, the officer asked me to watch a video that walked me throughout the Global Entry process at the airport. He then called me to his desk, took my photo, fingerprinted me (4 fingers on each hand and 2 thumbs), chatted me up about my travels to Mexico, entered the final approval into the system, and I was on my way in less than 30 minutes.

The second downside came when I had to re-enter security, taking off shoes, removing laptop, etc. All in all, a very streamlined and pleasant experience, other than the finding of the right location and getting back in to the airport. If you are going to do this, I would make sure you have a long enough layover and leave yourself 60 minutes.

The airport is packed today. The officer said that the busiest time in Houston is between 1-5 pm when all the international flights arrive. I am hoping this special pass will speed my re-entry when I come home from Mexico.

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