Which is right for you: TSA Preè or Global Entry?

If you’re a frequent airline flyer, you may want to consider taking advantage of the Trusted Traveler programs offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Designed to improve the overall experience of travelers through efficiency and security enhancements, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, offer the choice of 2 popular systems: TSA Pre√® (PreCheck) and Global Entry.

Man using a Global Entry Kiosk at Newark Airport
An arriving passenger at Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport uses a Global Entry kiosk to enter the U.S. (photo by Josh Denmark)

While each has specific qualifications, fees and a thorough application processe to complete, the destinations to which you primarily travel will generally determine which program you should consider applying for. Here’s a detailed look at the benefits each of these Trusted Travel programs has to offer, in order to help you determine which program will best suit your needs as a traveler.

TSA Preè: Transportation Security Administration

Designed for frequent airline travelers who are U.S. citizens and/or legal permanent residents, and who fly mainly within the U.S., TSA Preè offers expedited security screening at more than 160 participating airports across the USA. Member benefits include no longer having to remove your shoes, belts, 3-1-1 compliant liquids or laptops.

A ‘known traveler number’ or KTA will be issued and then used to identify you a TSA Pre√® member when you book your flights; it will also be printed onto your boarding pass for easy identification purposes. There’s no passport required to apply and an application fee for a 5-year TSA Pre√® membership is $85. The application process entails filling out a pre-enrollment form online, followed by a physical visit to a TSA Pre√® enrollment center where fingerprints must be provided along with verification of your personal identification.

Global Entry: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

As the name implies, the Global Entry security program has been developed for passengers who fly both internationally and within the U.S. It’s intended to provide pre-approved customs clearance for low-risk airline passengers upon arrival in the USA. Benefits of using Global Entry include being able to bypass the usual long line ups at customs by using an automated kiosk at 46 participating airports (and 13 pre-clearance airports), along with not having to remove your shoes, belts, laptop or 3-1-1 compliant bag from your carry-on.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent citizens and eligible citizens of foreign countries (currently Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama and South Korea) may also apply. A valid passport is required, and there’s a $100 application fee for a 5-year Global Entry membership. The application process involves completing a pre-enrollment form online, followed by a personal interview at an enrollment center where fingerprints and identification will be verified. Members of the Global Entry program are also eligible to participate in TSA Pre√®. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the 2.4 million people enrolled in TSA Pre√® have enjoyed a reduction of 70% in their customs processing wait times.

Connie Motz is an award-winning freelance writer located in BC, Canada. She’s also a proud 5-year breast cancer survivor & Celiac traveller. Connie invites you to visit her blog, Travel Writer, at www.conniemotz.com. Follow her on Twitter or Pinterest, or meet her on Linkedin


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