There are so many expedited screening programs, which one should I get?
TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, Clear and Mobile Pass are all expedited screening programs that help you get through U.S. airport security checkpoints faster. The main difference is that TSA PreCheck and Clear save you time at the initial TSA security screening, while Global Entry speeds up the process at customs after you return to the U.S. from an international destination. Global Entry costs $100 and includes TSA PreCheck, whereas PreCheck on its own is $85. (As of October 1, 2021, the cost to renew your TSA PreCheck membership online dropped to $70.) Both fees are often reimbursed or covered by travel credit cards and both programs are valid for five years.
If you’re not sure which one to get, we recommend applying for Global Entry since you can enroll in TSA PreCheck at the same time for an additional $15, essentially bundling the two programs. The only downside is that appointment times for Global Entry application interviews at larger, airports can be hard to get (especially now, thanks to COVID-related delays). Interview appointments for Global Entry at smaller airports or for TSA PreCheck only are much easier to find.
TSA PreCheck – First implemented in 2013, TSA PreCheck (one of the ‘Trusted Travelers Programs’) serves as a way to screen travelers before they arrive at the airport and allow them access to expedited screening through security lanes in more than domestic 200 airports. In TSA PreCheck lines, there’s no need to remove your shoes, belt, or light jacket. Liquids and electronics like tablets and laptops can also stay in your bag, saving travelers time and hassle. Children 12 and under can also go through the expedited line with a guardian who has TSA PreCheck. To apply for a new membership, go to https://ttp.dhs.gov. Travelers must undergo a background screening and pay the $85 fee for five years of membership.
Global Entry – Is designed to provide expedited re-entry into the United States (one of the ‘Trusted Travelers Programs’) by helping international travelers clear customs faster. It is the preferred program if you travel more than once to an international destination. Available at more than 50 U.S. airports, costs $100 to apply (though as of this notice, the CBP has proposed raising the fee to $120) and is valid for five years).
If you are approved, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck for no additional fee, so you don’t have to apply separately for it. Everyone who has Global Entry gets TSA PreCheck, but not everyone who has TSA PreCheck qualifies for Global Entry. Many credit cards provide fee waivers to cover the application fee for Global Entry.
NOTE: Your Global Entry is attached to your passport information, so you only need to present the passport
Clear – Beyond TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, there are a couple other expedited screening options worth noting, including Clear. This program is at more than 50 domestic airports, stadiums, and other venues. Instead of showing identification at the security checkpoint, facial recognition and fingerprint scans are used at the dedicated kiosks in participating airports. Thus, you don’t need to show any identification when traveling through the airport—although it’s wise to carry it as backup.
How do you get Clear? The easy application process for Clear involves registering your fingerprints and iris (for the facial scan) along with your government-issued identification. You can register online or at an enrollment center, often found at airports, among other locations. Once your biometrics are in the system, you can start using the program the same day. It costs $179 per year.
Mobile Passport – If you aren’t eligible for Global Entry or simply don’t feel like going through the cumbersome application process, Mobile Passport is a helpful free app for speeding past customs at 30 U.S. airports and four seaports. In fact, sometimes the lines for Mobile Passport at the immigration checkpoint are even shorter than the lines for Global Entry.
How do you get Mobile Passport? There is no application process to sign up for Mobile Passport. You simply need to download the app (available for iOS and Android) and set up a profile in it—all of which you can do before your travel date. How does Mobile Passport work? Once you land from an international flight, the app asks you the standard customs questions and creates a unique QR code for you to scan when you talk to an immigration officer. All you need is a cellular or Wi-Fi connection to get the QR code when you land—and it only takes about one minute.
We appreciate your continued support of small businesses like ours. Please know our commitment to providing the best vacations will never waver, nor will our commit-ment to you, our valued Travelers. Joyce Bates is the owner of Sun Connections Travel & Cruises, the ‘go to’ travel agency for all occasions. For more information on this subject or to book your next trip, visit www.sunconnections.com or call 503-655-4850.
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