fbpx Skip to main content

Many U.S. citizens that enjoy traveling may wonder if they need TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or both. Let me assure you that having at least one of these programs is highly beneficial. To make the right choice, let’s delve into the details of each so you can determine which best suits your needs.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is a fantastic expedited security program managed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). By enrolling in PreCheck, you can breeze through airport security without the hassle of removing your shoes, laptop, liquids, belt, and light jacket. Most PreCheck users undergo screening via a traditional metal detector, which further streamlines the process.

It’s worth noting that PreCheck screening is typically separate from the regular screening for non-PreCheck passengers. However, there might be instances where a dedicated TSA PreCheck lane is unavailable. In such cases, you can still enjoy the convenience of keeping your shoes, belt, and light jacket on, even while using the standard security lane.

Keep in mind that TSA PreCheck is accessible at more than 250 airports across the United States. Nevertheless, you’ll only be eligible for PreCheck access if your airline is one of the 80 carriers that participate in the TSA PreCheck program. This ensures you can take advantage of this time-saving benefit during your departures.

Get TSA PreCheck in a few simple steps:

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Account online.
  2. Complete the online application and pay the fee for a 5-year membership.
  3. Schedule an in-person interview at one of the 400 enrollment centers.
  4. Once approved, add your Known Traveler Number to your airline reservations
  5. Enjoy expedited screening in TSA PreCheck lanes. Available for U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents aged 12+; kids under 12 can use PreCheck with a parent or guardian who has it on their boarding pass. Note that TSA security measures are unpredictable for all travelers.

Benefits of TSA PreCheck:

  • No need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets
  • Expedited security screening. Most travelers get through Security in 5 minutes or less.
  • Enjoy benefits at more than 200 airports within the U.S on over 80+ participating airlines.
  • Children under 12 may accompany a parent/guardian with TSA PreCheck on their boarding passes in the designated lanes. Learn more about children in TSA PreCheck here.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry, a program by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), provides a seamless and expedited arrival experience for preapproved, low-risk travelers at almost 60 airports when traveling internationaly. The best part is that Global Entry membership includes all the perks of TSA PreCheck, making it a two-in-one deal.

Upon arrival at participating airports, Global Entry members can skip paperwork and processing lines. Instead, they can approach a convenient Global Entry kiosk, where quick fingerprint verification and customs declaration completion are all that’s needed. Some airports even utilize facial recognition for added ease.

Once done, the kiosk prints a receipt, which you present to an officer before leaving the baggage claim area. Though rare, some members may occasionally be subject to further examination during the customs process. It’s important to note that while Global Entry expedites the process, it doesn’t guarantee complete avoidance of interviews when re-entering the U.S.

To obtain Global Entry, follow these steps:

1. Apply Online: Submit the online application.

2. Enroll: Applicants who are conditionally approved can complete their interviews upon arrival into the United States at an Enrollment on Arrival location or by scheduling an appointment at an Enrollment Center.
If you are flying internationally into the US within the next 6 months we encourage you to complete your Global Entry enrollment at an Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) location as an alternative to scheduling an interview at an Enrollment Center.
Find a Global Entry EoA Location
Find an Enrollment Center

3. Membership: Once accepted, your membership will last for 5 years.

Benefits of Global Entry:

  • Reduced wait times with self-service kiosks or E-Gates using facial comparison technologies
  • No paperwork to be filled out by passengers upon entry
  • Includes TSA PreCheck

Global Entry program members can use Global Entry Customs Kiosks at more than 75 airports when returning to the U.S. from travel abroad.

Should you get both?

Since Global Entry takes way longer to get, you can apply for it, but understand you will get the TSA pre-check included once you get Global Entry. But if you don’t want to wait maybe a year to get Global Entry, then apply for TSA PreCheck now, which is much faster, but doesn’t get you everything that Global Entry does. You can still apply for Global Entry in the future if you travel a lot internationally. It is also worth noting that some credit card providers (like American Express) will pay your Global Entry and/or TSA PreCheck cost for you! Enjoy your travels stress-free!

Nadine Heitz

Nadine Heitz is an immigration attorney in Lake Worth, Florida where she helps her clients obtain legal status in the United States. Book your consultation with her to find out how to solve your immigration issues and achieve your desired goals.