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8 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About TSA PreCheck & Global Entry

Whether you’ve had TSA PreCheck or Global Entry membership for a long time or if you’re just thinking about applying, there are some surprising things about the two programs that you may not know. 

From who you can bring with you through expedited screenings to who can cut you in the security line, here are some important facts about the Trusted Traveler programs.

You Can’t Bring Your Kids Through With You

Family going through security scanner line at airport
Monkey Business | Adobe Stock

Only travelers with Global Entry memberships can go through Global Entry lanes at customs—no exceptions. This means parents/guardians traveling with children cannot bring their kids through with them unless the children have their own Global Entry memberships. 

However, children 12 and under can go through TSA PreCheck lanes with an adult who has a PreCheck membership. Children aged 13-17 traveling on the same reservation with an enrolled adult can only go through the TSA PreCheck lane if they have the TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding pass. 

Interviews Upon Arrival are Available

If you can’t find a convenient Global Entry interview appointment, save yourself a trip out to the airport by doing Enrollment on Arrival during your next international trip. 

This program allows Global Entry applicants who are conditionally approved to complete their interviews upon arrival into the United States—no appointment necessary. Simply follow the airport signage to Global Entry after you land. Just remember to bring the required documents that you’ll need for your application (proof of residency and a valid passport.)

Global Entry Only Costs $22 More Than TSA PreCheck

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If you’re going to leave the country at all in the next five years, it’s an easy decision to choose a Global Entry membership over TSA PreCheck. 

Global Entry costs $100 for five years, and TSA PreCheck costs $78 for the same time period. A Global Entry membership automatically includes a TSA PreCheck membership, plus offers expedited customs screenings when reentering the United States.

Both programs have a similar application process, and each require an in-person interview that includes fingerprinting.

The extra $22 for Global Entry is definitely worth it to be able to skip the long customs line after a long international flight!

Military Members Get PreCheck for Free

Active military members can participate in TSA PreCheck for free—no application or enrollment required.

To get the benefits of TSA PreCheck, simply enter your Department of Defense ID number as your Known Traveler Number when buying an airplane ticket, and you should automatically get the TSA PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass.

Unfortunately, military members don’t get Global Entry for free. 

Global Entry Applications Take a Long Time

Want to get a Global Entry membership before your next international trip? Better plan ahead, as according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Global Entry applications are currently taking between 4-6 months to be processed. 

Additionally, appointments for application interviews are often booked up two or more months out at major airports. 

You Don’t Even Need to Show Your Passport With Global Entry

Close up of person holding suitcase and passport
Atstock Productions | Adobe Stock

Entering the United States with Global Entry has gotten even faster lately. When the program first launched, flyers had to use a machine to scan their passports and fingerprints in order to be processed. Now, most airports feature kiosks with facial recognition technology, so all you have to do is snap a photo of your face and you’re done. 

You Might Still Get Cut in Line

One of the best parts of having a TSA PreCheck membership is getting to feel smug when you cut all of the regular flyers in line for security. Unfortunately, you might still get cut in line yourself, as CLEAR members get top priority in line.

A CLEAR membership only allows you to skip the security line—if you’re tempted to sign up, just know that you’ll also need to pay for a TSA PreCheck membership if you want screening perks like going through the metal detector instead of the body scanner.

Watch out for Scam Websites

When you’re ready to apply for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you might just Google the name of the program and sign up through the first link you see.

There are a number of sponsored links that show up first in Google search results for both programs that are not the official application sites.

Only apply for Global Entry through the official U.S. Customs and Border Protection website and TSA PreCheck through the TSA’s website. Remember to look for a URL ending in .gov to make sure you are on a real government website, and not a spoof site pretending to be official. 

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