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How to Apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry | Frommer's The Toidi / Shutterstock

How to Apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

TSA PreCheck (sometimes written as TSA Pre-Check) helps you jump airport security lines and Global Entry helps you jump the immigration processing line when you enter the United States. It's not too hard to apply for them, but there are some important details you must get right.
Last update: October 4, 2021

Jump to: TSA PreCheck
Jump to: Global Entry

TSA PreCheck 
First of all, what is TSA PreCheck? 
By pre-screening applicants, TSA PreCheck allows you to skip the lines and go through airport security efficiently by providing a separate lane for low-risk travelers. 

Step 1: Am I eligible? 
In order to apply for TSA PreCheck, you must qualify as a “low-risk traveler.” This means you must be a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent resident. It also means that you can’t have a criminal record for certain offenses. Visit eligibility requirements on the TSA website to find out more about the ineligible crimes. If you're also interested in applying for Global Entry (see below), skip down to that section—TSA PreCheck membership is included for free with every Global Entry membership.
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Warning: Make sure you only apply for TSA PreCheck directly through the Department of Homeland Security at TSA.gov. The Better Business Bureau has issued a scam alert for third-party websites that look similar to the DHS site and claim to assist travelers with the process, only to steal their application fee and personal data. 

Step 2: Visit the TSA Application Center. 
Once you determine your eligibility, you can make your way to an application center. You can find a center near you on the TSA website and can either schedule an appointment online or call 855/347-8371 or simply walk in. At your enrollment appointment, you’ll provide your basic information like name, birthdate, and address plus fingerprints and a valid form of identification. You can also pre-enroll online to save some time at the application center.  To process your application for the first time, the TSA charges an $85 nonrefundable fee. (When your membership comes up for renewal, the fee is $70 for digital processing.)
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Step 3: Congratulations! TSA PreCheck has accepted your application. Now what? 
You will hear within a few weeks if your PreCheck application has been accepted.  While you are waiting, you can check your application status online. If it has, you will receive a “Known Traveler Number.” This number is valid for five years. 

Step 4: Booking a flight with TSA PreCheck
Now that you have your Known Traveler Number, the next thing you need to do is book your flight. When making reservations, make sure you’re flying with an airline that honors PreCheck. When booking your flight, either call the airline reservation center or enter your Known Traveler Number in the space provided during online booking—usually, that's on a separate page for passenger information. Make sure your name on your plane ticket matches your Known Traveler Number name so there is no confusion at the airport.
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After linking your Known Traveler Number to your flight, your boarding pass will be marked with "TSA Pre-Check" to ensure your security inspection will be quick and easy. 

For more information on applying for TSA Pre-Check, visit the TSA website at https://www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck/apply.


 
Global Entry
What is Global Entry? 
After getting off an international flight, the Global Entry process is meant to make your entrance back into the U.S. as easy and painless as possible. Global Entry kiosks are located at international airports in the U.S. where a traveler can check-in to avoid paperwork and long processing and security lines. At these kiosks, Global Entry travelers have their fingerprints scanned and complete a customs declaration on a touch screen. The kiosk will then print a receipt the traveler takes directly to baggage claim, without waiting in the long queue of passengers being processed.
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In a way, being accepted by Global Entry is like going through inspection once, in an office, and unless you break any Customs rules, you'll remain cleared for five years. Best of all, if you are accepted for Global Entry, you're automatically eligible for TSA PreCheck—there's no need to apply for both.

To Apply for Global Entry

Step 1: Am I eligible? 
To apply for Global Entry, you must be a Lawful Permanent Resident or a Citizen of the United States, a Citizen of Germany, the Netherlands, Panama, and South Korea or a Mexican National. You are ineligible for Global Entry if you have ever been convicted of a crime, have violated Customs, are a subject of a federal investigation, or do not satisfy any of the other U.S. Customs and Border Control low-risk requirements. To find out more about eligibility, visit the US Customs and Border Control Website at http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/about/eligibility.   
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Warning: Make sure you only apply directly for Global Entry through the Department of Homeland Security at TSA.gov. The Better Business Bureau has issued a scam alert for third-party websites that look similar to the DHS site and claim to assist travelers with the process, only to steal their application fee and personal data. 

Step 2: Applying to Global Entry
First, you must create a free Trusted Traveler Program account with the DHS. Once you have, you can begin the application process and pay the $100 non-refundable fee. All of this can be done online.
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Step 3: The Interview
Once your application has been approved, you will receive an email from your GOES account telling you to schedule an interview at an enrollment center—usually, that will be at an airport, and you'll be given a calendar of available slots. When you arrive at the enrollment center for your appointment, you will be interviewed by a U.S. Customs Border Protection officer. You will have your picture taken and provide your fingerprints (no ink—just a scan) plus some biometric details such as your name, birthdate, and address.

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Don’t forget to bring your valid passport and a form of I.D. like your driver’s license or permanent resident card. As long as the interview goes smoothly, your application will be officially accepted on the spot and you'll be give your Global Entry number—which will also work for TSA PreCheck, too.

For more information on Global Entry, visit the US Customs and Border Control at their website, http://www.cbp.gov/global-entry/about


For more on flying internationally, read How to Apply For a Passport or Visa
 
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