Flying can be stressful. The time it takes to check-in and goes through security lines can top an hour during the travel season at the nation’s busiest terminals. Then once you’re through, you’ve got to jostle with fellow passengers to get to your seat and find space for your bag in the overhead compartment. If you’re returning to the U.S. from abroad, you can also expect long lines to get through customs and immigration.
One of the best ways to beat the stress of travel is to join one of the government’s trusted traveler programs: TSA Precheck or Global Entry. One allows you to use faster security lines before your flight, while the other lets you access expedited customs and immigration processing lanes when returning to the U.S.
Read on to learn more about the difference between TSA Precheck and Global Entry, and why you might want to choose one program over the other.
What Is TSA Precheck?
TSA Precheck was launched in 2013 and allows travelers who are deemed low-risk by the Transportation Security Administration to use expedited security lines at certain airports.
Passengers with TSA Precheck can leave laptops and liquids (in approved containers) in their bags, and do not have to remove their shoes or belts when going through airport security. Travelers can now find TSA Precheck lanes at over 200 airports across the U.S., and a total of 73 airlines currently participate in the program.
According to the TSA, 94% of travelers who use TSA Precheck lanes experience wait times of five minutes or less. That’s a lot of time saved, especially when the TSA considers the normal average wait time to be 30 minutes, and even longer during peak travel times.
Eligibility: You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or legal permanent resident of the United States to be eligible for TSA Precheck. There are no age requirements, but children 12 and under can use Precheck lanes when traveling with a parent or guardian who is a member.
Applying:Global Passport and Visa LLC USA-3119 S Main Street Stafford, Texas 77477, Tel-281-612-3564
Registering with airlines: Even after you are approved for TSA Precheck, you will not automatically get to use the designated security lanes when flying. You must first register your Known Traveler Number with any airlines you fly by logging into your frequent-flier accounts and adding it to your traveler profile. If it works, you should see the TSA Precheck logo on your boarding pass when you check-in. If you do not, you can ask an airline agent at the airport to add you’re Known Traveler Number to your reservation.
Expiration and renewal: TSA Precheck membership is valid for five years. You can renew your membership online up to six months before it expires. You will have to pay the $85 application fee again and may be required to complete another in-person interview.
What Is Global Entry?
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows travelers the U.S. government designates as low risk to use automated immigration kiosks and expedited customs lines when returning to the U.S. from abroad. It is currently available at over 70 airports in the U.S. and a few international airports such as Abu Dhabi International and Toronto Pearson.
Eligibility: You can apply for Global Entry if you are a U.S. citizen, a lawful permanent U.S. resident, or a citizen from a list of other approved countries that includes Argentina, Germany, Mexico, Singapore, and Switzerland, among others.
Applying: Global Passport and Visa LLC USA-3119 S Main Street Stafford, Texas 77477, Tel-281-612-3564