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Global Entry fingerprints

Does anyone else have trouble getting their fingerprints to read? We returned to the US from Japan yesterday, and I had my usual issue with the fingerprint scan. I thought it meant I was dehydrated, but my husband suggested I press down harder on the glass and that worked.

Posted by
296 posts

I had the same issue this summer. I gently placed my fingers down to be scanned but the system didn't recognize me. For my second try, I pressed down harder and it worked!

Posted by
7606 posts

Yes, I have trouble. It can be from dehydration so I try to drink a lot of water the day before I travel and on the plane.

I had a discussion with the Border Patrol agent when I was in for my interview (his computer wasn't booting up so we were just chatting) and he said the (ahem) older you are the harder it is for your fingerprints to read. He also said not to put any hand lotion on the morning you fly. He also said there are alternatives if you get to a point where your prints won't scan at all as earlier that week he'd had an older couple who just could not get their prints to scan at all. I'm not exactly sure but I suppose they use some kind of biometric facial recognition.

I've also had trouble at the scanner where I come in at SLC and had a discussion with the Border Patrol guy there. He helped me the first time because if you press TOO hard you'll squash the ridges out so it has to be just enough. He just laid his hand over mine on the fingerprint scanner with light pressure and suggested I do the same next time. I have done that each time since then and that will make them read. I am so grateful he worked with me.

Posted by
5017 posts

Yes, my wife has had troubles with her fingerprints scanning from time to time. Not uncommon.

Posted by
4153 posts

I've had the same problem multiple times. You have to get it just right. And the picture the kiosk takes is always of the top of my head because I'm looking down trying to get my fingers right.

Posted by
1833 posts

Hahahaha, Dick. I was just about to write the exact same thing. Between the not-so-distinct fingerprints and lovely photo of the top of my head, I am always pleasantly surprised when I'm allowed to proceed!

Posted by
7606 posts

Hahaha!! After a couple of horrible pictures including the top of my head and one with my mouth agape looking like a complete idiot I approach the terminals saying to myself - keep your head up and your mouth closed. I try to go for a Mona Lisa like smile. Not enough so that it messes up the biometrics but enough so that I look like someone they will want to let back in.

Posted by
1997 posts

Interesting, Pam, because in Seattle, I was actually given hand lotion so that the scan could read my finger prints. I also make a point now of almost constantly drinking the day before and the day of the flight. My forehead creates a lovely photo too...and my eyebrows.

Posted by
4777 posts

Not sure is dehydration is so much the issue as blood flow to the hands...note that most people having issues tend to be older, and female. My wife suffers from Raynaud's, so she has trouble with Fingerprint Recognition (and getting blood for a test.) Try warming your hands and getting some blood moving in them.

Wet fingers (sweaty or lotion on them) are also an issue as it disrupts the pattern recognition.

Posted by
11 posts

I used to work at a nuclear plant, and when I had problems with getting my fingerprints, they said that people who work with paper a lot (I was a secretary) - the paper wears down the prints on your fingers. 🤷‍♀️

Posted by
4435 posts

I had a discussion with the Border Patrol agent when I was in for my interview (his computer wasn't booting up so we were just chatting) and he said the (ahem) older you are the harder it is for your fingerprints to read. He also said not to put any hand lotion on the morning you fly.

That’s funny, I was told by the Global Entry person to use some hand lotion (but it needs to be the type that is oil-free) about 30 minutes before landing to make it more likely that my fingerprints could be read. When I initially signed up it probably took a dozen tries before my fingerprints were of adequate quality.

Posted by
6686 posts

I have almost no prints: dishes, diapers and age. When I went foe my EU biometric passport, they put hand lotion on my hands. Global entry had to try a few times and put a note in my file. At my home airport, it’s facial recognition; that may be sagging, but it hasn’t worn off.

Posted by
2454 posts

I think I was fortunate with my initial global entry fingerprints last month. I was expecting to have trouble but he said OK on the first imprint. Last summer I needed a redo at our local law enforcement office and even then they could never get 3 out of my 10 prints to read adequately.

Posted by
1084 posts

I have never had trouble with fingerprints on a Global Entry kiosk until this year in Toronto. I did finally get the machine to recognize my prints. I thought it was because I had broken a bone in my hand since my last trip and my little finger is somewhat crooked now. I was thinking of using my left hand next time. Thanks for all the comments. I will bookmark this as a reminder for my trip next May.

Posted by
890 posts

I have difficulty getting the machines to take my prints too. I remember getting a message once to proceed to an agent. I took my paper with the top of my head showing in the photo and told him my prints wouldn’t take. He passed me through without a thought!

I don’t remember if there was any difficulty obtaining my original prints at my interview. I have had repeated problems at local police departments obtaining my prints for my work. I was told that medical professionals wash their hands frequently and that is the reason why my prints are hard to obtain.

Posted by
5235 posts

Whenever my fingerprints don't work, DH suggests that it because the computer only recognizes living people. Will try superhydrating and hand lotion before the next time.

Posted by
1371 posts

YES! It usually takes me several tries and remembering, as you said, to press hard: and somehow press hard on all 4 fingers at once.

Posted by
3117 posts

I have never had a problem with the machines recognizing my fingerprints. Perhaps the equipment at those airport terminals is not up to par.

Posted by
1435 posts

I have had trouble before getting my fingerprints to “read,” so last trip coming into SeaTac I really concentrated on making sure I was hydrated. I got through in one try. I even had trouble with my Global Entry interview when we did the fingerprints. I am going to try and remember the tips about pressing harder and hand lotion.

Posted by
6686 posts

Returning the other day, the person supervising the machines suggested rubbing our fingertips on our foreheads to pick up the oil and yuk after a 9-hour flight. It worked. But all those gooey fingers on the glass plate before and after me....