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CBPO Application Process

Being a CBP Officer can be both mentally and physically challenging. As a result, the application process to become a CBP Officer is intentionally rigorous to ensure those selected can carryout the duties that are expected of them. Click the section buttons or titles below to learn about basic eligibility.

Expand Basic Eligibility

In order to be eligible for employment with the CBP, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen.
  • Have a valid driver's license.
  • Have resided in the U.S. for at least 3 of the last 5 years (military exception).
  • Be eligible to carry a firearm.
  • Referred for selection prior to your 40th birthday (waiver for veterans' preference eligible or those that have previously served in a federal civilian law enforcement position).
  • Be willing to travel; you will be required to travel frequently. This job may require extended domestic and foreign Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments.
  • Pass the application process (see details below).

Common Disqualifiers

You may be rated unsuitable for the CBP Officer position if your background includes:

  • Use of illegal drugs, and/or the sale and distribution of illegal drugs. View our FAQ on prior illegal drug use
  • Convictions (including misdemeanor domestic violence charges)
  • Intentional harboring or concealment of an illegal alien

9 steps int eh process to employment. Note that several steps occur at the same time or may occur in a different order

Expand 1. Apply

Apply to be a CBP Officer on USAJOBS
To apply, navigate to the position you are interested in on USAJOBS by searching the position title or by finding the link on the Apply Now page. To begin your online application, you need to create a USA Jobs account and self certify that you are qualified. You will submit your resume, transcripts, and other documents to verify your age and if you are a veteran. Visit our Apply Now page to start your application today!

Expand 2. Take the Entrance Exam (GS-9 waiver)

The entrance exam measures your ability to perform the job functions of a CBP Officer. The exam is administered in two parts. The first part is the online Candidate Experience Record. This test will take you less than 1 hour to complete and you can take it on your own computer or phone. The second part is an exam at a local testing center that consists of logic-based reasoning, arithmetic reasoning, writing skills, and work style. We recommend allowing 4 hours (including travel, check-in, and testing time) to complete this test. More information and a study guide are available undercurrent applicant resources.

Entrance Exam waiver for GS-9 Applicants: Applicants who qualify at the GS-9 level are not required to take the entrance exam.

Expand 3. Qualifications Review

Submit a properly formatted resume on USAJOBS to ensure your qualifications are accurate
Human Resources Specialists will review your resume and other required documents to make sure you meet the minimum qualifications and determine which grade you qualify for. For your application to be reviewed quickly and accurately, it is recommended that you submit a resume that appropriately documents your qualifications, detailed description of your duties (including tasks performed), the dates you performed those duties (MM/DD/YYYY - MM/DD/YYYY) and hours worked per week. If your resume and/or transcripts do not clearly document how you are qualified, you may be rated ineligible. We highly recommend you review our resume guide in preparing your Federal resume: (CBP Officer Resume Aid)

Expand 4. Background Investigation

CBP Officer applicants undergo a thorough background investigation
All selected applicants must undergo and successfully pass a background investigation as a condition of placement into a CBP position. The SF-86 or SF-85 (e-QIP) must be completed to initiate the background investigation. The background investigation process consists of four key elements: the preliminary vetting checks, the polygraph examination, the investigation (the field portion and OPM’s National Agency Checks) and the final adjudication. The results produced from the vetting checks, the polygraph exam, and the investigation are analyzed for the purpose of making a final adjudicative determination. Learn more about the background investigation.

View the detailed overview of CBP’s suitability process

Expand 5. Medical Exam

General Medical Requirements:
Individuals in this position must be medically and physically capable of performing the essential job functions and duties of the position safely and efficiently without aggravating existing health problems or endangering the health and safety of the individual, others, or national security.

After tentative selection, candidates must undergo a pre-employment medical examination and be found medically qualified to perform the position's full range of duties safely and efficiently. Any disease or condition that may potentially interfere with the safe and efficient performance of the job's duties or training may result in medical disqualification. No condition is automatically disqualifying; each determination is made on a case-by-case basis. The medical determination may involve recommendations for additional information and/or testing. If medical information is recommended beyond that provided by the initial medical examination, it is provided at the expense of the candidate.

Minimum Vision Requirements

  • Near Vision: Must test at least 20/40 Snellen binocular, (with both eyes viewing) with or without correction.
  • Distant Vision Acuity: Binocular visual acuity must be at least 20/30, with or without correction.
  • Uncorrected Vision: Uncorrected binocular vision must be 20/100 or better.
  • Color Vision: Must be able to distinguish primary colors as defined by color perception Ishihara Pseudo isochromatic plate tests; use of an X-chrome lens is not acceptable.
  • Refractive Surgery: LASIK-free from residual effects three months post-procedure; Other Procedures - Free from residual effects one year after surgery.
Minimum Hearing Requirements
  • Average hearing in decibels (dB) for the 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 frequencies must not exceed 25 dB.
  • Hearing may not exceed 45 dB at the 4000 and 6000 Hz in either ear.
  • The difference in hearing levels between the better ear and the worse ear may not exceed 30 dB at the 4000 and 6000 frequency.
  • The difference in hearing levels between the better ear threshold and the worse ear threshold may not exceed 15 dB for the average of 500, 1000, 2000, and 3000 Hz.
  • The use of hearing aid is not allowed.


Learn more about medical qualifications and view the full standards at our CBPO Medical Exam Informational page.

Expand 6. Fitness tests

You will undergo physical fitness testing to ensure you are physically fit for the job. View Current Applicant Resources to access more information on the CBPO PFT 1.

To ensure you are physically fit, you are required to undergo two physical fitness tests (PFT). PFT-1 assesses your ability to execute job duties and will be conducted concurrently with the medical exam.

Physical Fitness Test 1 Minimum Requirements
TestRepetitionsTime Frame
Sit-Ups201 minute
Push-Ups121 minute
12" Step Test120 steps/min5 minutes

Expand 7. Interview

You will be interviewed by a board of current CBP Officers to ensure you have the competencies that are critical for successful job performance. Among these are the competencies of judgment/decision-making, emotional maturity, interpersonal skills, and cooperativeness/sensitivity to the needs of others. View Current Applicant Resources for frequently asked questions regarding the structured interview.

Expand 8. Polygraph Exam

The polygraph exam is a standardized polygraph exam, required by the Anti-Border Corruption Act of 2010. This is a 4-6 hour interview that requires you to respond to a series of questions typically relating to national security issues and answers you provide on your background investigations forms. The polygraph measures your physiological response when answering questions and results are subject to a quality control review for accuracy. Learn more about the polygraph exam.

Expand 9. Drug Test

CBP Officers have direct responsibility and involvement with the interdiction of illegal narcotics, and are routinely exposed to illegal substances. During the application process you will be required to submit to a random drug test. Applicants that test positively are disqualified. View Current Applicant Resources for frequently asked questions regarding the drug test.


[Video] Polygraph Examination

Watch the video for general information on the CBP polygraph examination and see three agents and officers share their experience about the process.


Last modified: 
July 13, 2021