I’m sure many of you reading this already have heard of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, some of you may already have enrolled in one or both of the programs. But for those of you who are still shopping around and need a little bit more information, then you’ve come to the right place.
Compiled below is a list of what you should know about each program, why you need them, the application process and how they work.
What are they for?
We all hate standing in those long lines at the airport, especially when some of us are in a rush to catch our flight to whatever destination is printed on our boarding pass. As we approach the x-ray machine, we have to remember to take out our liquids, laptop, shoes, coats, belts, empty our pockets, etc.—it can be such a headache. Ever had your bag called to be searched again, and have the TSA agents rummage through your belongings that they never seem to be able to put back in place? Yes, you know what I mean. It’s frustrating!
With TSA PreCheck, you can skip all the undressing and unpacking, and walk quickly through those never-ending lines.
Global Entry works similarly, where it allows you to skip the lines for customs on your way back into the U.S. No more waiting! Sounds like a double win. You can also kiss those blue forms goodbye (although airports such as SFO have started to bypass these forms, replacing them with automated entry kiosks).
How to apply
If you only want to apply for TSA PreCheck, you’ll need to provide a U.S. passport or driver’s license, have a clean record, fill out an online application, and pay an $85 application fee, valid for five years. The complete list of requirements can be found here.
In order to apply for Global Entry, you’ll need a U.S. passport or a permanent resident card, and have no previous customs or immigration violations (plus a few other requirements). The form will ask you a few questions such as your employment history and the countries you have visited in the past five years. You’ll need to pay a $100 non-refundable application fee that has to be paid every five years if you want to renew the service.
If you sign up for Global Entry, you are automatically eligible for TSA PreCheck. If you don’t want Global Entry, you can apply for TSA PreCheck separately. Our suggestion is to apply for Global Entry—it’s only $15 more. You’ll never know when it can come in handy in the next five years.
Post application submission
Once you’ve submitted your application for either of the two programs, you’ll receive a notification via email notifying you to schedule an interview.
For your interview, you’ll need to bring your passport or resident card, another form of ID, and your approval email printed out. During the interview, you can expect the following: a series of questions asked that you answered on your application form; your fingerprints will be scanned; a photo will be taken, and your driving record will be checked to see if you have any outstanding violations.
Once that’s finished, and you’re approved for Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck, you’ll receive your card(s) in the mail in a few weeks.
How to use them
Include your Known Traveler Number (located on the upper-lefthand corner of the back of the card) when you book your flights and in your frequent flier programs. For airports that offer TSA PreCheck, your boarding pass will show the TSA PreCheck logo, which will allow you to use that special lane.
If you’re not sure which airline participates in the program, you can get the full list here. Unfortunately, if your airline is not listed, you won’t be able to skip the regular security line. Currently, there are 16 airlines in the program (and growing), and TSA PreCheck is available at 160 airports.
When you land at a U.S. airport, walk over to the special kiosks labeled Global Entry. When you reach the kiosks, scan your passport, answer a few yes or no questions, have your photo automatically taken, scan your fingerprints and voila! You’re done. The kiosk will print a paper for you to hand to the customs agent as you exit.
If you want to make your life a bit easier, apply for the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs to skip the long lines, keep your clothes on and items in your bag. It’s the perfect solution for any domestic and international frequent traveler!