Imagine a world where you don’t have to feel like you’re taking off half of your clothes just to stand in a full-body scanner. A world in which you can keep everything in your bag, where you can arrive to the airport later than usual and still be early. It may sound too good to be true, but TSA PreCheck and Global Entry makes this possible. And it’s a world that one in four people don’t even know about.
What Is TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are both Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Trusted Traveler Programs. TSA PreCheck is only for flights between U.S. airports, and Global Entry is used for international travel. These programs are perfect for the jetset or the frequent business traveler. It’s an expedited security screening with loose requirements so that you can get to your gate quickly. Only low-risk flyers can qualify for this, and the process is rigorous.
Foreign citizens can qualify for Global Entry, which allows them to go through PreCheck. Family members 12 and under can go with you through the PreCheck line, however, there is no age restriction to apply; family members 13 and up can be approved for the program.
How Do You Qualify?
First you must submit an application. There is a non-refundable fee for this application; $85 for PreCheck, $100 for Global Entry. The fee for both programs is good for five years, and most would tell you to spend the extra $15 and get the Global Entry pass. Even if you only travel abroad once every year or two, it ends up paying for itself in saved time going through security and customs, and it can be used at airports that only have the PreCheck option.
After the application is submitted, it usually takes the TSA only 2-3 weeks to get back to you. Once they do, you will have to schedule an in-person interview. You’ll need to bring your passport and driver’s license, and be prepared to answer any questions they may have. They’ll check your criminal history (if you have one, which would disqualify you from being accepted) as well as your driving record, and if approved will have to get your fingerprints scanned, as this will be used at the PreCheck kiosks in the airports.
Global Entry Requirements
Who is Eligible for Global Entry?
- U.S. Citizens
- Lawful U.S. Permanent Residents
- Canadian Citizens (through the NEXUS program)
- Citizens of the United Kingdom
- Mexican Nationals
- German Citizens
- Citizens of the Netherlands
- Citizens of South Korea
- Citizens of Panama
How to Apply for Global Entry
- Create an account on the Global Online Enrollment System Website (GOES) – each applicant (regardless of age – even your children) must have their own GOES account.
- Login to GOES account, complete the Global Entry application, and pay the nonrefundable $100 application fee.
- Customs and Border Patrol will review and (hopefully) conditionally approve your application.
- Each applicant will then schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center (again, even children must have their own interview)
Required Documents: Valid Passport AND 1 other form of government ID (Driver’s License, I.D. card, or Permanent Resident Card)
TSA PreCheck Requirements
Who is Eligible for TSA PreCheck?
- U.S. Citizens
- U.S. Nationals
- Permanent Residents
How To Apply for TSA PreCheck
- Complete the TSA PreCheck application, online or at an application center.
- Schedule an appointment, online or by calling (855) 347-8371
- Visit an application center with the required documents and provide fingerprints, pay the $85 application fee.
- You may check the status of your TSA PreCheck Application here
Required Documents: Valid Passport OR other form of government ID (Driver’s License, I.D. card, or Permanent Resident Card) AND birth certificate.
What Will Disqualify You From the PreCheck or Global Entry Program?
- Incomplete or false application information.
- Violations of transportation security regulations.
- Certain criminal offenses and factors.
- Prior violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country
- Are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency
- Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or
- Cannot satisfy CBP or DHS of your low-risk status.
What Are the Benefits of DHS Trusted Traveler Programs?
If your main airport is one of the busier ones, or if you travel a lot, then these programs are worth the membership costs. The benefits are numerous and make getting through the airport hassle and stress-free.
- There is a separate security line for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, typically shorter and faster moving than the general security line.
- You get to hang on to all of your belongings. There’s no conveyor belts, no taking out your laptop, no taking off your belt and shoes. You don’t have to remember which pocket your dopp kit is in, as you don’t need to remove any of your liquids. Basically, you don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving something behind.
- There’s no body scans, and there are no pat-downs. Going through security is an absolute breeze, and you can avoid the long lines with all the other travelers.
- Not having to bother with emptying your bag and body scans, this obviously means you will save a lot of time. When traveling internationally, you can just use self-operated kiosks rather than have to wait in line for an agent, and lines for dropping off bags to be checked are much shorter.
However, PreCheck is only available for select air lines. What airlines offer TSA PreCheck?
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Air Canada
- Allegiant Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Sun Country
- Virgin Americas
How Can You Get the Most Out of PreCheck and Global Entry?
The first thing to remember, which a lot of people fail to do, is put down your Known Traveler ID when booking your flight. The main reason for this is so that you can avoid randomly ending up in the normal security line. Now that more people are signing up for PreCheck, some airports have discontinued letting random people into the express line, but the KTID is how the TSA will identify you as a PreCheck member, so you can always go through the expedited security.
If approved for Global Entry, you’ll be given a physical card, but this isn’t all you will need. Your passport is still necessary for all international travel, and is needed when using the kiosks. Be sure to declare everything you may have brought with you from another country. When using these kiosks, your photo will be taken, there are a few questions to answer and you’ll need to scan your passport, but all of this takes far less time when done electronically as opposed to waiting in line for an agent.
PreCheck is available at 150 airports across the country, with Global Entry available at most major hubs around the world. More are likely to be added if the program keeps increasing in popularity.