I am currently travelling to the US and I have a EU passport. I also have a valid ESTA document. I fly from Germany to Chicago and continue with a domestic connection flight.

Chicago Airport provides information for international travellers:*

If you are traveling from a country that requires a visa- or if you are a first time ESTA passenger- you must wait in line at immigration.

If you are a permanent U.S. or Canadian resident, have Global Entry, or are a repeat traveler from a country with a visa waiver, you may skip the line at immigration and use the Global Entry or Automatic Passport Control kiosks to the left instead.

I was in the US three years ago, also with a ESTA document. The first ESTA of course expired, so I got a new one. Am I a repeat traveller by the definition above or not? I ask because I want to know if I can "skip the line at immigration and use the Global Entry or Automatic Passport Control kiosks to the left instead."

* This link became invalid some time before July 2017. The information is now at Chicago O'Hare: Automated Passport Control and no longer uses the form of words present in the question.

  • 2
    Note that you won't be able to use the Global Entry kiosks; that only works if you are a member of Global Entry, which is a whole different process. You'll be able to use the APC kiosks though, which are different machines. Commented May 6, 2016 at 18:20
  • Second Zach's statement. Forget about Global Entry--that's a program that you must specifically apply for (IIRC $100/5 years and it entails a background check and an in-person interview.) Commented May 6, 2016 at 23:07
  • * the replacement link is now also invalid, Automated Passport Control is mentioned here flychicago.com/ohare/myflight/security/pages/default.aspx but the link on that page is also invalid
    – Traveller
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 5:11

2 Answers 2


Yes, you are considered a repeated traveler as long as you have been to the US at least once after 2008. From the Automated Passport Control (APC) Page:

Who Is Eligible to Use APC

U.S. and Canadian passport holders and international visitors from Visa Waiver Program countries are eligible to use APC kiosks. Visa Waiver Program visitors must have Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) approval prior to travel and have visited the United States on at least one occasion after 2008.

  • Please add "U.S. legal permanent residents" as they are now eligible
    – NelsonGon
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 7:53

It's unfortunate that a semi-official site was using such imprecise language. The confusion between ESTA and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is very common among travellers but the Chicago Department of Aviation ought to know better. (Indeed, perhaps they do now, since they no longer use the text quoted in the question.)

VWP is the programme that allows people from various "friendly" countries to make tourist and business visits to the USA without a visa. ESTA is a security check programme that requires VWP visitors to submit information to the US government online before travelling. An ESTA authorization is only valid for two years but can be used for any number of visits within that time.

What they should be talking about is repeat Visa Waiver Program visitors. What matters is whether or not you've entered the USA under the VWP before; it is irrelevant whether this was on your current ESTA or on some previous, expired ESTA. (Nean Der Thal's answer quotes the official documents on this.)

  • On your first visit the Biometrics (photo, fingerprints) are taken. They then use that for later comparisons. CBP Biometrics Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 1:46

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