Understanding the Differences: TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

Traveling can be both exciting and stressful. The anticipation of exploring new destinations or reuniting with loved ones is often accompanied by the dread of long lines at airport security and customs. 

But what if there were a way to expedite these processes, making your journey smoother and more enjoyable? Enter two renowned programs: TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. 

In this comprehensive article, we will guide you through the nuances of these programs, highlighting their differences and helping you decide which one aligns with your travel needs and preferences.

What are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

TSA PreCheck:

TSA PreCheck, short for Transportation Security Administration PreCheck, is like the golden ticket for smoother domestic air travel within the United States. With this program, eligible travelers get to breeze through security checks, skipping many of the inconveniences that come with traditional airport screening.

Imagine this, You arrive at the airport, head to the TSA PreCheck lane, and, in a matter of minutes, you’re through security. No need to remove your shoes, take out your laptop, or unpack your toiletries. You can even keep your light jacket on. It’s efficient, convenient, and designed to make your domestic travel as hassle-free as possible.

Global Entry:

Global Entry, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive program. Managed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), it encompasses TSA benefits while primarily focusing on streamlining the international travel experience.

With Global Entry, your adventures abroad become more enjoyable right from the moment you land back in the United States. Picture this scenario: You disembark from an international flight, anxious to make your way through customs and immigration. 

Instead of enduring long lines, you head to the Global Entry kiosk. A few simple steps later, you’re on your way, leaving fellow travelers in your dust. This program is designed to save you valuable time and reduce the stress of re-entering the country.

Key Differences Between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry


TSA PreCheck: This program is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Additionally, some foreign nationals with memberships in other Trusted Traveler Programs may be eligible.

Global Entry: While Global Entry also caters to U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and certain citizens from neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico, it extends its reach to a more international audience.

Scope of Benefits:

TSA PreCheck: TSA mainly enhances the domestic travel experience within the United States. It expedites the security screening process, allowing you to bypass long queues and enjoy a smoother journey. However, it doesn’t offer benefits for international customs and immigration processing.

Global Entry: Global Entry includes all the benefits of TSA, making it ideal for domestic travelers as well. However, its true strength lies in the realm of international travel. It facilitates swift customs and immigration clearance, significantly improving the experience when returning to the United States from overseas.


TSA PreCheck: The application fee for TSA PreCheck is $85, and this membership is valid for five years.

Global Entry: The application fee for Global Entry is slightly higher, at $100 for a five-year membership. However, it’s important to note that Global Entry includes TSA benefits, making it a more cost-effective choice for those who frequently engage in international travel.

Application Process:

TSA PreCheck: Applying for TSA is a straightforward process. You can initiate your application online, schedule an in-person appointment for fingerprinting and an interview at an enrollment center, and typically receive your approval within a few weeks.

Global Entry: The application process for Global Entry is more thorough, involving a comprehensive background check and an in-person interview. Due to these additional security measures, it may take a bit longer to complete.

Travel Companion Benefits:

TSA PreCheck: If you possess TSA, your eligible travel companions (typically children under 12) may also be able to use the TSA lanes with you. However, each traveler, including children, must have their boarding pass.

Global Entry: Global Entry offers more extensive benefits for travel companions. Immediate family members can enjoy expedited customs and immigration processing when traveling with you, making it a great choice for families who explore the world together.

Renewal Process:

TSA PreCheck: After your five-year TSA PreCheck membership expires, you’ll need to reapply and go through the same application process again to continue enjoying its benefits.

Global Entry: Similar to TSA PreCheck, Global Entry also requires a five-year renewal. The renewal process involves updating your information and may include an in-person interview, depending on CBP requirements.

Coverage at Non-U.S. Airports:

TSA PreCheck: TSA PreCheck primarily benefits travelers at U.S. airports, offering a streamlined security experience for domestic flights.

Global Entry: Global Entry shines when you’re returning to the United States from international destinations. You can use the Global Entry kiosks at participating U.S. airports to expedite your customs and immigration processing.

Choosing Between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

The decision of whether to opt for TSA or Global Entry hinges on your unique travel patterns and needs. Here are some scenarios to help you make an informed choice:

  • Domestic Traveler: If your travel is predominantly confined to the United States, and you seldom venture outside the country, TSA PreCheck is the ideal choice. It will make your domestic security screening process a breeze.
  • Frequent International Traveler: If you find yourself jet-setting internationally often, Global Entry is your go-to option. Not only does it include TSA benefits for domestic travel, but it also provides the convenience of bypassing lengthy customs and immigration lines when you return to the U.S.
  • Mixed Traveler: For individuals who enjoy a balance of both domestic and international journeys, Global Entry is still the more appealing choice. It offers a comprehensive solution for both types of travel, ensuring a smoother experience regardless of your destination.
  • Family Traveler: If you regularly travel with your immediate family members, Global Entry is the superior option. It enables your family to benefit from your Global Entry membership, making group travel more convenient.

How to Upgrade from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry

If you currently hold a TSA PreCheck membership and wish to upgrade to Global Entry, the process is straightforward. Follow these steps to make the transition:

  1. Eligibility Check: Verify that you meet the eligibility requirements for Global Entry, which are similar to those of TSA PreCheck.
  1. Apply for Global Entry: Initiate the Global Entry application process online. You’ll need to create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account and complete the application form.
  1. Payment: Be prepared to pay the Global Entry application fee, which amounts to $100. This fee covers your membership for five years.
  1. In-Person Interview: Following the submission of your Global Entry application and payment, you’ll need to schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. During this interview, a CBP officer will review your application, inquire about your travel history, and ensure that all information is accurate.
  1. Approval and Activation: Once your application is approved, you will receive a Global Entry card. While this card is not essential for using Global Entry kiosks, some travelers find it convenient as an additional form of identification. Additionally, you will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) to use when booking flights.
  1. Enjoy the Benefits: With your Global Entry membership activated, you can now revel in the advantages of both TSA and expedited customs and immigration processing, making your international travel experiences notably smoother.

In Conclusion

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry stand as two essential programs designed to enhance your travel experiences. They eliminate the frustration and inconvenience of long security lines and lengthy customs and immigration processing times. These programs allow you to spend more time enjoying your journey and less time waiting in queues.

In your decision between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, reflect upon your typical travel habits, whether you travel with family and the value you place on expedited customs and immigration clearance. As a travel freak you can check this article about how to save beggage fee on Jetblue. By making an informed choice, you can look forward to more enjoyable and stress-free travels, regardless of your destination. Safe travels!

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