As a Travel Advisor, I am often asked about TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry, and if they are worth it. My answer is always "YES!!!". And here's why....
The Global Entry & TSA Pre-Check progam was put in place to allow pre-approved, low-risk travelers to receive expedited clearance during travel. TSA pre-Check is for domestic travel and Global Entry is for international travel. When you are approved for your Global Entry, you will also receive your TSA Pre-Check as an added bonus. If you travel internationally, Global Entry will allow you to breeze through US Customs & Immigration at 54 US Airports and 15 Preclearance locations. No more waiting in long lines, you simply go to a Global Entry Kiosk and have your passport scanned. When given the all-clear, you move on to collect your luggage, if you checked any.
In order to enroll in Global Entry and/or TSA-Precheck, you must first apply with Customs and Border Protection, by going to www.cbp.gov From there you will be able to access Trusted Traveler Program/Global Entry. The application process can take several weeks to process as a thorough background check is completed. Once you are conditionally approved, you must go in for an in-person interview with Homeland Security. Arranging for the interview can also take several weeks as there are only a few available. Your closest location will be made available when you are able to schedule the interview. You are alerted via email when you are conditionally approved and able to schedule the interview. The interview only takes approximately 15-minutes, you will be asked a few questions and your finger prints & picture will be taken and recorded. After the interview, about 3-7 days, you will be alerted to your status via email. If approved, you will be sent a card and a 'Known Traveler' number to use for travel. The card generally arrives 4-6 weeks after your approval. Overall, once you have completed your application, you can expect a wait of 6-months +/- for you to actually receive your card and 'Known Traveler" number. So plan accordingly. There is a cost of $100.00 that is not refundable and is taken during the application process. Some credit card companies will often refund you the $100.00 if you use their card to make the charge.
TSA Pre-Check works for domestic travel and helps you expedite the line for TSA with a special lane where you will not have to remove your shoes, laptop, liquids, belts or light jackets. A true time saver. The cost for just TSA Pre-Check is $85.00 and is not refundable.
Both Global Entry & TSA Pre-Check are valid for 5-years. It will be up to you to remember when it is time to renew, as you will not receive a notice. It is important to include your Global Entry & TSA-Pre-Check numbers at the time of reservations for travel. It is not automatically included when you book.
If you have ever had to wait in a long line at Customs & Immigration after a long travel day, you know how grueling that can be. Save yourself the aggravation and time....apply for your Global Entry.