US flag Official website of the Department of Homeland Security

Polygraph Exam FAQS

Candidates for law enforcement officer positions at Customs and Border Protection are required to undergo a polygraph exam as part of the background investigation. The results of the polygraph will be used to determine the candidate’s suitability for placement in the law enforcement officer position. The suitability information provided by and collected on applicants, including CBP polygraph exam results, will be kept for a minimum of two (2) years for use in future background investigations.

Polygraph Exam Frequently Asked Questions

How should I prepare for the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) polygraph examination?

  • CBP has encountered many applicants who are exposed to polygraph misinformation and we ask that you be mindful of the following:

    • Researching/utilizing ways in which to manipulate the outcome of the polygraph will not lead to a successful conclusion; in fact, attempts to manipulate testing will result in disqualification from the hiring process

    • Be 100% truthful, trust the process and follow instructions; your examiner will guide you through each step of the process

  • Try to get plenty of rest the night before your scheduled examination

  • Eat something prior to arriving for your examination

  • Dress is business casual; wear comfortable clothing keeping in mind you will be in a professional office setting

  • If any issue(s) would preclude you from being tested on the day of your examination, please call the examiner and re-schedule your examination as soon as possible

  • Do not plan any other activities for the same day as your scheduled examination

  • Bring official photo identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) to your examination

  • Bring any updated e-QIP (SF-86) information to your examination

  • Do not bring weapons of any kind to the examination and please ensure your cell phone is powered off during testing

Will being nervous affect the outcome of my test?

  • No, we expect everyone to be nervous and we account for that during your test

  • Please do not try to help yourself or your examiner by attempting to relax or calm yourself

Will the examination be recorded?

  • Yes, the standard protocol is to audio record every CBP polygraph examination

Am I eligible for a waiver?

  • There are no post-exam waivers afforded to anyone

  • CBP has the authority to grant waivers to certain veterans under section 1049 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 as outlined below:

    • Veteran status, as defined in section 2108 or 2109a of title 5, USC

    • Possess an active Top Secret/SCI level security clearance granted without a waiver and currently “read-in” to access SCI

  • CBP’s Personnel Security Division (PSD) staff review all waiver requests under this authority to ensure the applicant meets all criteria and makes a recommendation to the Assistant Commissioner, Office of Professional Responsibility for the final approval/denial determination

  • All applicants will receive instruction on how to apply for the waiver within their background information packets. Please do not request waiver consideration until you receive this packet

What if I have taken a polygraph exam with another agency? Will those results be accepted?

  • The CBP Reciprocity Directive allows applicants who have passed a previous federal pre-employment polygraph examination to apply for polygraph reciprocity

  • CBP’s Credibility Assessment Division staff reviews all reciprocity requests under this authority to ensure the applicant meets all criteria for the final approval or denial determination

  • Applicants will receive CBP Form 328, Polygraph Reciprocity Request Form and instruction on how to apply for polygraph reciprocity within their background information packets; please do not request reciprocity consideration until you receive this packet

  • CBP reviews previous polygraph exam results and determines reciprocity eligibility to include the following factors:

    • Administered by a National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) Federal Polygraph program

    • Examination conducted within the past 2 years or within the last 5 years if hired and still employed in that position (examinations conducted outside of a 5 year timeframe will be reviewed for partial reciprocity)

    • At a minimum, the examination covered the same issues addressed by CBP’s exam

If I passed another polygraph exam, should my CBP polygraph be waived automatically?

  • No. Not all polygraph exams are the same; Federal polygraph programs have different standards and training than state and local organizations

  • Even within the federal government, agencies have different hiring standards and different approved testing formats which address agency specific goals/requirements

If I do not successfully complete the CBP Polygraph Examination, will that preclude me applying for other federal law enforcement positions?

  • No. Other agencies can request the status of your application process with CBP, but the results do not preclude you from applying for other jobs

Who can I contact with questions before or after my polygraph exam?

  • You may contact your assigned examiner identified in your reporting instructions if you need to cancel or reschedule

  • If you have questions or concerns regarding the polygraph examination, please contact the Credibility Assessment Division at

  • The CBP Hiring Center does not have access to information regarding your polygraph exam. The Hiring Center will not know the results of your exam before the “CBP Jobs” mobile app is updated

What types of forms will I be required to sign on the day of my polygraph exam?

  • A “Polygraph Examination Consent” form will be reviewed with you by your examiner and you will be asked to sign it prior to the polygraph examination

Will prior drug use preclude me from obtaining a federal law enforcement position?

  • Any use of marijuana, anabolic steroids or misuse of prescription drugs within 2 years of applying for a position with CBP will disqualify an applicant from further consideration in the hiring process

  • Any use of other drugs (Schedule I-V excluding marijuana, prescription drugs and anabolic steroids) within the previous 3 years will disqualify an applicant

  • The Personnel Security Division makes all adjudicative decisions. The Polygraph Division has no role in adjudications

  • It is important that applicants are forthcoming about any and all relevant drug use information; falsifying application forms will disqualify you

What type of questions will be asked during the polygraph exam?

  • You will be administered a standardized polygraph examination, that will include questions regarding your suitability for employment with CBP and national security concerns matters

  • All questions will be explained and reviewed with you prior to the actual examination

  • You will be given an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues you may have with any question(s), prior to the actual examination

Will the polygraph examiner discuss my exam results?

  • Before you leave the polygraph suite, the examiner will inform you of your preliminary test results and offer you the opportunity to comment on any areas of concern

What is Quality Control?

  • Under Federal polygraph policies and procedures, polygraph examination results are submitted to the polygraph Quality Control (QC) team within the Polygraph Division for final review and determination

  • If QC concurs with the examiner’s preliminary analysis of your polygraph examination, the results are then final and will be forwarded to the Personnel Security Division for inclusion in your background investigation file

  • Otherwise, you may be contacted for additional testing

Will the Polygraph Division contact me again after the Polygraph Examination?

  • Only if additional testing is required

Does the Polygraph Division decide if I will be hired?

  • No. The Polygraph Division does not make hiring decisions

How will I know if I will be able to continue in the application process?

  • Polygraph results are submitted to the Personnel Security Division, and are adjudicated as part of your background investigation

  • The Polygraph Division does not participate in the adjudication process

  • The Personnel Security Division may contact you during the background investigation process to schedule additional interviews or request additional information

  • You may check the status of your application by using the “CBP Jobs” mobile app

Can I request to withdraw my application after the Polygraph Examination?

  • You can withdraw your application at any time during the process by contacting your assigned polygraph examiner with a follow-up call to the CBP Hiring Center in Minneapolis, MN at (952) 857-2914; (952) 857-2943 for CBPO applicants; or (952) 857-2910 for BPA applicants or (952) 857-2932 for AMO applicants

What if I have other questions regarding the hiring process?

  • All hiring questions should be sent through the CBP Hiring Center, which has already been in contact with you throughout the process

Last published: 
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 13:26