If you’re a frequent flyer, you probably understand the hassles associated with airport security. You have to go through multiple security checks, take your belts and shoes off, remove the contents of your bag, and go through multiple other steps. The check-in process in most airports can take 20 to 30 minutes, or sometimes even more. If you’re tired of going through this entire process, you may have considered enrolling into TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
Both TSA Precheck and Global Entry allow you to skip standard airport security lines. But they’re offered by different departments, carry different benefits, and are meant for different people. Considering the differences between the two, you may wonder if you should apply for a TSA Precheck and Global Entry. We highlight the core features of TSA Precheck and Global Entry to help you select the ideal Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) for yourself and your family.
TSA Precheck is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration. It’s a 5-minute online application followed by a 10-minute in-person interview that allows you to speed through airport security. Once you get the TSA Precheck stamp of approval, you can access the expedited airport security line, so you don’t need to remove your shoes, belt, jacket, and other pieces of clothing in airports.
TSA Precheck screening is usually separate from non-Precheck screening. But if your chosen airport doesn’t have a dedicated TSA Precheck screening, you will have to pass through the standard screening lane, but you won’t have to remove your shoes, belt, and clothing. In addition to a participating airport, you will only be able to avail of the benefits if you’re also flying with a participating airline — currently, around 80 airlines participate in TSA Precheck.
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The TSA Precheck application includes two simple steps — an online application and an in-person interview. You will have to fill out an online application, which should only take 5 minutes, following which a 10-minute appointment will be scheduled at a TSA Precheck enrolment centre. During the in-person interview, you will undergo a simple background check and fingerprinting, following which you will receive your traveler number if approved.
The primary benefit of TSA Precheck is the expedited airport security line. You will be able to go through the expedited airport security line, and you won’t have to remove the contents of your luggage or take off different items of clothing. Furthermore, you won’t be subjected to manual scanning. If you travel frequently, TSA Precheck can save considerable time and make the process a lot more comfortable and convenient.
However, it’s important to add that some TSA Precheck members can be randomly selected for the standard screening. The selection is completely randomized, so you can’t always count on receiving the complete benefits of a TSA Precheck membership. TSA uses seen and unseen security measures throughout the airport, so no individual is guaranteed expedited screening. You should still visit the airport with plenty of time to spare in case you’re selected for a randomized standard screening.
The benefits of TSA Precheck are only available at participating airports and airlines. TSA Precheck is currently available in 200 domestic airports and 80 airlines. When booking flight tickers, it might be helpful to ensure you select airports and airlines that participate in TSA Precheck. Otherwise, you will have to go through the standard security. You can explore airports and airlines participating in TSA Precheck from the official website.
The TSA Precheck is available for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent U.S. residents. An individual may be ineligible because of violations of transportation security regulations, incomplete or false application information, or disqualifying criminal offenses. Children under the age of 13 can also use the TSA Precheck lane when they’re traveling with parents or guardians who are TSA Precheck members.
The online application for the TSA Precheck costs $85 and is valid for 5 years.
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Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As the name suggests, Global Entry is most suitable for frequent international travelers because it can expedite the customs process when returning to the United States after international travel. If you’re a member of Global Entry, you can use the Global Entry Customs Kiosks when returning to the US and skip the customs interview and customs paperwork.
When entering the United States from select airports, Global Entry members don’t have to wait in long processing lines or complete paperwork. They can simply visit the Global Entry kiosk, use their machine-readable passports or U.S. permanent resident cards, place their fingers on the scanner for verification, and proceed. Facial recognition with Clear can further speed up the process in some airports, eliminating the need for fingerprints and documentation.
The Global Entry application starts with an online form, following which you may receive conditional approval. You will then have to set up an in-person interview at a Global Enter Enrollment Center and pass a background check. If you’re flying into the United States, you can also use the Enrollment on Arrival feature to complete the interview as you clear customs, making the process more convenient.
The primary benefit of Global Entry is that you can access expedited customs processes while returning to the United States. However, Global Entry also includes an automatic TSA Precheck, so you can also speed through the security line at airports participating in a TSA Precheck. As such, enrolling in Global Entry essentially gives you the benefits of two Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) in one — you can speed through security and customs.
The benefits of Global Entry can only be availed through Global Entry Customs Kiosks, currently available in 75 airports in 13 countries. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website offers a comprehensive list of airports with Global Entry Customs Kiosks.
Global Entry is available for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent U.S. residents, and select foreign nationals, including citizens of Argentina, Brazil, India, Colombia, United Kingdom, Germany, Panama, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Mexico. Canadian citizens and residents are also eligible for Global Entry through the NEXUS program. Individuals under 18 years of age can also apply for Global Entry with the permission of their legal guardians.
The online application for Global Entry costs $100 and is valid for 5 years.
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TSA Precheck vs. Global Entry: Which is Better?
TSA Precheck and Global Entry are the two most popular and reliable Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP). TSA Precheck is meant primarily for frequent domestic travelers, whereas Global Entry is primarily meant for international travelers and some foreign nationals. You should enrol in TSA Precheck if you want to speed through airport security lines, and you should enrol in Global Entry if you want to speed through customs while returning to the US.
However, it’s worth emphasizing that Global Entry also carries the benefits of TSA Precheck. If you’re a Global Entry member, you can also speed through airport security in TSA Precheck-participating airports without removing your shoes, belt, jacket, and other pieces of clothing. That means enrolling into Global Entry essentially gives you the benefits of both Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP). Most people can benefit more from Global Entry membership than from TSA Precheck membership.