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What is TSA PreCheck® and why do I need it?
TSA PreCheck® is a trusted traveler program run by the US Department of Homeland Security. Basically, it allows you to go through US airport security faster than those who don’t have TSA PreCheck® status.
Everyone has to go through airport security screening to board a plane. Standing in long snaking lines, removing your shoes, pulling your laptop out, taking off belts and jackets… all that discomfort goes away once you have TSA PreCheck® status. Like a V.I.P. you get to jump to the short line, keep your shoes, belt, and jacket on. You don’t have to pull out your electronics or 3-1-1 liquids. Plus, children under 12 can join you in the dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes.
Once you apply, pay the enrollment fee, and are accepted into the program, you will receive a KNT (Known Traveler Number). Give your KNT to your travel agent so they can add it to your flight reservations or if you book your own flights, use it when you buy your ticket so the airline will flag your boarding pass with the TSA Pre-check status.
 
How much does it cost to apply for TSA PreCheck®?
Enrollment cost $85 USD and lasts for five years. However, if you apply for the Global Entry program instead, the cost is $100 and includes TSA PreCheck®. I recommend The Global Entry Program gets you through US customs and back into the country quicker.
 
How do I get TSA PreCheck status?
If you only want to get TSA PreCheck® apply online then schedule an appointment at any of 380+ enrollment centers. Once approved, add your Known Traveler Number to your airline reservation to enjoy faster, more seamless screening.
 
What is the Global Entry Program?
Global Entry is another US Dept. of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler Program. It is also part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Membership in this program allows you expedited entry upon arrival in the U.S. Where TSA PreCheck helps you get through security when you leave for vacation. Global Entry helps you get through customs faster when you return. Benefits of Global Entry Program membership include:
  • Reduced wait times with self-service kiosks or E-Gates using facial comparison technologies
  • No paperwork to be filled out by passengers upon entry
  • Includes TSA PreCheck®
Global Entry program members can use Global Entry Customs Kiosks at more than 75 airports when returning to the U.S. from travel abroad.
 
Once you apply, pay the enrollment fee, and are accepted into the program, schedule an interview at an enrollment center. My local center was a small office located in DFW International Airport, Terminal D. However, some locations are now offering virtual appointments! During your interview, they ask you a few questions, take your picture, then a few weeks later you should receive your Global Entry Card. It’s the same size as your driver’s license.
 
How do I apply for Global Entry Program Membership?
To start the process, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Programs website https://ttp.dhs.gov/ and choose the Global Entry program. If you are planning a European or International vacation in the next few years, I recommend going ahead and applying for Global Entry over TSA PreCheck® membership because it also includes TSA PreCheck®. You will need your driver’s license and passport to apply online. The online application is super simple and only takes about 5 minutes.
If you have questions, be sure to check out this comprehensive FAQ page: https://ttp.dhs.gov/faq?lang=en
 
BOTTOM LINE:
  1. Departures from U.S. Airports are much less stressful once you get TSA PreCheck® status.
  2. Arrivals to the US from an International Airport is easier with Global Entry.
  3. Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck®.
  4. It’s totally worth the time and money to do it!