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How to sign up for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry hassle-free

Don't wait in the airport security line any longer than you have to

man walking through airport terminal
Matthew Turner / Pexels

Are you tired of long security lines and time-consuming customs procedures? Do you watch in jealousy as people skip right past you in airport security lines and walk down the “TSA PreCheck” lane? If so, you may wonder how to expedite your travel time and just skip to the good part. 

Don’t worry – we compare TSA PreCheck and Global Entry so you can find the right program for you. Plus, we guide you through the process of signing up for each program so you can skip those long lines next time you’re traveling. 

empty airplane on ground
Marina Hinic / Pexels

What is TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

Let’s start with the basics. 

TSA PreCheck is the most affordable option of the airport security programs. It offers expedited security screening, allowing you to breeze through checkpoints without having to remove your shoes, belt, or outerwear, or take your laptop out of your bag. 

As you’ve probably noticed, the TSA PreCheck line is typically much shorter than the general airport security lines. What is the TSA PreCheck cost? It costs $78 to apply for TSA PreCheck; once approved, it lasts five years.

On the other hand, Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that gives pre-approved travelers expedited clearance into the United States. 

Global Entry’s benefits include no processing lines, no paperwork, access to expedited entry, availability at major U.S. airports, and reduced wait times. Sounds pretty nice, right?

It’s important to note that those lucky individuals in the Global Entry program also have access to PreCheck privileges. But it’s a little more expensive than PreCheck. It costs $100 to apply for Global Entry and, like PreCheck, lasts five years.

Both programs can offer huge time savings and stress reduction during your travels.

Eligibility and requirements

Are you eligible? Let’s take a look at the application requirements.  

TSA PreCheck: For TSA PreCheck status, you need to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. 

Global Entry: ​​U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and citizens of the following countries are eligible for Global Entry membership:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • India
  • Colombia
  • United Kingdom
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Mexican nationals
Girl walking outside airport rolling her suitcase
Oleksandr P / Pexels

Key benefits of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

Both airport programs offer great benefits. Let’s compare the two.

TSA PreCheck benefits

  • Faster security screening: Running late for your flight? You’ll want TSA PreCheck so you can bypass the regular security lines and get through quicker. 
  • You get to keep your items on: You can keep your shoes, belt, and light outerwear on during the screening.
  • You don’t have to lug out a heavy laptop: You get to save time by leaving your laptop in your bag instead of having to dig for and remove it. 
  • You can get through security faster: The TSA PreCheck lines are typically much shorter than general airport security lines.
  • TSA PreCheck is affordable: TSA PreCheck is cost-effective. A $78 application fee covers a five-year membership period.

Global Entry benefits

  • TSA PreCheck benefits: Global Entry members automatically receive TSA PreCheck benefits. 
  • Reduced wait times: If you have a connecting flight on a time crunch, you’ll be especially thankful for this one. With no processing lines or paperwork, you get quick clearance with reduced wait times through customs.
People waiting in line at the airport
Phil Mosley / Unsplash

How to apply for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

Luckily, the application process is straightforward.

How to get TSA PreCheck

To apply for TSA PreCheck, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Search for an enrollment center near you (you don’t need to go to the airport – your local Staples likely has an enrollment center).
  2. Go to your provider’s enrollment website (either IDEMIA or TELOS, depending on your enrollment center location).
  3. Fill out a TSA precheck application online in as little as 5 minutes. 
  4. Attend a 10-minute appointment at your local enrollment center, where they’ll take your payment, verify your essential documents, and take your fingerprint and photo.

That’s it! Once approved, you’ll receive your Known Traveler Number (KTN), which you can add to your airline reservations. Then, you’ll be flying through those airport lines in no time.

How to get Global Entry

If you’re leaning towards applying for Global Entry instead, follow these steps:

  1. Create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account online.
  2. Log into your account, complete the application, and pay your $100 fee.
  3. Once your Global Entry application is accepted, schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.
  4. Attend the Global Entry interview with a valid passport and another form of identification, such as a driver’s license. You’ll be asked to present your permanent resident card if you are a lawful permanent resident.

Once accepted, you get all the benefits of Global Entry membership plus TSA PreCheck benefits.

Empty seats in airport with a plane outside in background
Dennis Gecaj / Unsplash

Global Entry vs TSA PreCheck: Which program is better?

Wondering which program is best for you? The short answer is – it depends. 

If you plan on going on at least one international trip in the next five years, opt for Global Entry. The convenience is probably worth the slightly more expensive price when compared to TSA PreCheck. 

But if you aren’t planning on going international, stick with the classic TSA PreCheck. The convenience of being able to finish the application process at your local Staples is a plus.

Kelly Baker
Kelly is a writer who loves good books, baking homemade bread, playing the piano, and spending time with her family.
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