Your Guide to Global Entry and TSA PreCheck

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has developed a trusted traveler program that eases some of the pain out of the security screening process at airports.  Those deemed low risk travelers are able to enroll in TSA PreCheck and/Global Entry that allows them to skip some of the security protocol and typically encounter shorter lines.

Anyone who travels more than once per year should consider applying for the service.  It saves a lot of time over the course of a year.  Among the advantages trusted travelers enjoy is they do not have to take off their shoes, belt, or light jackets when going through metal detectors and do not have to remove their liquids or laptops from carry on baggage when they go through scanners.

What Is The Difference Between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

The easiest way to think about it is TSA Pre-Check is for leaving from any U.S. airport that participates in the program.  Global Entry is when you are returning to the United States from traveling internationally.

What is The Cost?

TSA PreCheck costs $85 and will last for five years.  Global Entry costs $100 and also lasts for five years.  TSA PreCheck is included in Global Entry so if you travel internationally it is worth the extra $15 to get Global Entry.

Can I get The Fee Waived?

It is possible to get your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee reimbursed.  Certain credit cards which will automatically issue a statement credit when you use the card to pay the fee.  It should be noted that these credit cards only provide one fee reimbursement every five years, so you can not have one card and get you and a companion a free membership.  The following credit cards will issue a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Citi Prestige Card
  • Citi /AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard
  • Platinum Card from American Express
  • Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
  • Centurion Card from American Express
  • American Express Corporate Gold Card
  • American Express Corporate Platinum Card
  • U.S. Bank FlexPerks® Gold American Express® Card
  • Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard (Global Entry only)

It is also possible to get Global Entry reimbursed through the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card by calling them and using your annual travel credit. The Expedia + Voyager Card also allows you to use your travel credit on the service.  Delta and United will also reimburse you for Global Entry for members of a certain status level.   

Who Is Eligible for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

TSA PreCheck is open to U.S. citizens, while Global Entry (includes PreCheck) is open to U.S. citizens as well as citizens of the U.K., Canada (as part of NEXUS), Mexico, Colombia, Panama, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, and the Netherlands.  You maybe disqualified from participation for the following reasons:

  • Provide false or incomplete information on the application
  • Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants (to include driving under the influence)
  • Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country
  • Are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency
  • Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or
  • Cannot satisfy Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) of your low-risk status 

Not all arrests but major arrests including DUI’s may disqualify you.  A background check will be part of the process.

How To Apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

The process begins by going online and applying at the GOES website.  Click on the register icon in the new user area and create a new account.

After registering you will fill out the application and pay the appropriate fee.  The process typically takes 4-6 weeks.  You will receive a notice via email notifying you if you are conditionally approved.

On the left is your notice of being conditionally approved and where you can schedule or manage your interview. On the right is your letter of being conditionally approved. Be sure to print out and bring your letter to the in person interview.

If you are conditionally approved, The next step is to schedule an in person interview.  For a complete listing of enrollment centers, you may follow this link.  Due to a backlog you may have to schedule your interview several weeks or even months ahead of time.  You can try walking in, but your chances of getting an interview will be slim unless there is a cancellation.  You must schedule your interview within 30 days of getting conditionally approved.  You may change your date and time by clicking on manage interview as seen in the screenshot above.

 What to Bring and Expect at The Interview

First off be on time to your interview or risk having to reschedule for another day or even having to re-apply completely.  For the interview bring your approval letter along with your ID (State ID for PreCheck or Passport for Global Entry.) If your ID does not match your current address, also bring proof of residency such as a utility bill.

The interview is usually pretty short (15 minutes or less) and more or less the officer will ask you questions that verify information from your initial application.  You will be asked about your current employment, if you have ever been convicted of a crime, as well as whether you travel for business or pleasure and for Global Entry what countries you have visited. As a reminder they did a background check and will already know the answers, so be truthful.

Assuming you satisfy the officer you are a low risk traveler, they will take a picture and your fingerprints.  At this point they will (hopefully) say you have been fully approved and go over the specifics of the program.  They will also answer any questions you have.  And with that you can start using the program either immediately or within a few days.  In my case, I had a flight that night.  I had already checked in so I couldn’t use Pre-Check on that flight, but was able to use it on my return home.

Using PreCheck and Global Entry

If you are apart of airline frequent flyer programs, the first thing to do is to update your accounts with your known traveler number (KTN) which was given to you at the time of approval.  Anytime you book a flight, be sure your KTN is included at the time of booking.  You may also update any existing booked flights with your KTN as long as you have not checked in.

Not all airlines and airports are apart of the program so be sure to check if it is available on your flight.  Your boarding pass will have a designation indicating you are a PreCheck participant. Head for the security lines that indicate they are for PreCheck members and show them your boarding pass.  From there you will go through the security measures for PreCheck members and head off to your flight as normal.

Global Entry members will enjoy a smoother experience on returning from an international trip. You will head to a kiosk where you will scan your passport, take your fingerprints as well as your picture, and answer questions about your trip.  Take the print out and proceed to the next station where you will show the print out to the CBP officer and then you are done.  

As part of Global Entry you will also receive a card.  You do not need this when arriving by air.  Instead you use your passport.  It maybe used for border crossings by land or sea to speed through custom checkpoints.  For example you may use it when returning from Canada or Mexico by land.  It does not provide you expedited access when going to Canada or Mexico.  

Final Tips 

  • Be patient during the application process.  It takes time.
  • Be courteous to all CBP Officers.  They have final say over whether you are approved.
  • Be truthful at all times.  They ran a background check on you.  The sure-fire way to not get approved is lying.
  • If you have PreCheck or Global Entry and your traveling companion does not, they can not enjoy the same benefits as you.  Children must have their own Global Entry clearance. For PreCheck, children under 12 can go through the same line as their parents without PreCheck.
  • You may be selected for additional security even with PreCheck or Global Entry.  It’s for your protection.
  • Be sure to update any new information through the GOES website such as getting a new passport.   If you do have a name change or passport status change that must be done in person at a CBP office.
  • Global Entry cards count as government issue ID.
  • You are not guaranteed PreCheck on every flight.  Be sure to check your boarding pass.
  • If you were denied entry into the program you can reapply.  Be sure to have additional information to satisfy CBP of the concerns they had that prevented you from approval.
  • Sometimes the fingerprint scanners don’t work at the Global Entry kiosks.  You still get expedited access through the line though.
  • Check out the GOES FAQ’s for more information.

3 thoughts on “Your Guide to Global Entry and TSA PreCheck”

    • Hi there,

      It is at the discretion of Homeland Security. From what people have indicated online Global Entry is tougher to get and usually requires you to have a completely clean record. TSA PreCheck is a little easier especially if it was that long ago. The best thing to do is to apply and be honest. If you are denied you can appeal and a lot of times you can win approval that way if that is the only thing on your record.

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