In a word – YES! While many people I know have finally gotten around to signing up for TSA PreCheck, I’m still shocked at how many people haven’t gotten Global Entry.
What’s the difference between the two programs? Having your TSA PreCheck means you can go through the expedited TSA PreCheck line when flying out of over 200 US airports. You don’t have to take off your shoes and belt, take out your liquids, or laptops. It costs $85 for a 5-year membership. You need to fill out an online application and go in for a short interview along with having your fingerprints taken.
Global Entry is a program that allows you expedited re-entry into the USA, AND it includes TSA PreCheck for the price of $100 for 5 years. It’s truly a bargain! Again, you apply online. Once they do the background check, and you are approved for the program, they contact you to make an in-person appointment to have an interview and get fingerprinted.
In a word – YES!
When I went through the Global Entry process, I had to wait about 3 months to get an appointment at the San Francisco airport for my in-person interview. So plan ahead and know that this is not an instant process.
I happened to renew my passport during my 5-year subscription, which therefore gives me a new passport number. To update with Global Entry, you can just pop by a Global Entry office, no appointment necessary, and they will swipe the passport to update the system.
The first time I used my Global Entry when entering the US, I was blown away by how much time it saved. First of all, I didn’t have to fill out that boarding card on the plane before landing. When we landed, I was directed to a special line at customs for Global Entry members.
I used a kiosk to scan my passport and my fingerprints. It took my photo, and issued me a receipt, which I took to the customs agent. In a matter of minutes, I found myself in baggage claim.
Granted, I live only 2 miles from the airport, but from the time I landed to the time I was in my house was under an hour. Incredible! It doesn’t always go this quickly. I find the most common slow down is waiting for my luggage at baggage claim, not the actual customs process.
So which program is right for you? If you only travel domestically then TSA PreCheck is your best bet. Though if you are an international traveler, then I highly recommend getting Global Entry, which will make your life much easier both domestically, and when arriving back home from abroad.
Postscript: Since your Global Entry number is embedded into your passport, you don’t have to bring the ID card they issue you when you travel. The only time I’ve found this NOT to be true was when flying from Canada to the US. In this instance, you go through customs in Canada, instead of when landing in the US, and they required me to have my Global Entry ID card with me, as well as my passport. I have heard similar stories about Mexico.