TSA Precheck and Global Entry Programs

Travelers going through metal detection screening
Airport Security Screening

This is an update to the registration for TSA Precheck and Global Entry I originally published in 2014. Lines at the TSA security checkpoints can be long, especially at peak times. Although security protocols change from time to time, such as the ban on hover-boards and the Galaxy Note7, and more screening of laptops and tablets, as of this writing, you must still keep gels and  liquids in a 1 quart bag and no more than 3 oz (100ml) in each container in that bag. You must remove all jewelry, coats, belts and shoes and anything in your pockets before you go through the screening. This is a delay and hassle that frequent trusted travelers now have a way to avoid most of the time. “Most” means you still may get picked at random to be fully screened. If you are an international traveler, the Global Entry program allows you to scan your passport at a kiosk and bypass the manual immigration line.

There are two trusted traveler programs for air travel in the US. One is TSA Precheck and the other is Global Entry. Both are ways to reduce the hassle of traveling and both are described here. (There are surface travel programs for Canada and Mexico only, not described here.)

TSA Precheck operates at all major US airports and screening does not require you to take out your quart bag of liquids, or your laptop. You do not need to  remove belts, shoes, and light jackets. In the past, frequent fliers have been nominated by their airline for TSA Precheck, but as more enroll in the official program, some elite flyers are now being sent through normal screening and even more will be sent to normal screening if they do not register soon. For TSA Precheck registration, travelers need to apply online using this link: www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck and then pre-enroll. Then setup an appointment to visit one of the centers for an in person interview. As of this writing, there are five centers in Minnesota: MSP Airport, Bloomington, Mankato, Brooklyn Center, and St. Cloud. For an up to date listing and the hours, visit the link above. You must bring an original copy of a government issued identity and proof of US citizenship. An unexpired passport will fulfill this requirement as will an unexpired US drivers license and a certified copy of your birth certificate. There are other options listed at the TSA web site. Cost to enroll, at present time is $85 for a 5 year period.

Global Entry will allow international travelers to speed through the customs and immigration process. For Global Entry, travelers need to apply online starting with this link: www.cbp.gov/global-entry/how-to-apply and read the process and then enroll. After enrollment, you would make an appointment to visit one of the centers for an in person interview. The interview center in Minnesota is at the MSP Airport. The link above will give you all of the locations and specific addresses. Cost to enroll in the Global Entry program is $100 for five years. One advantage of Global Entry is that if you apply and are accepted for this program, you are automatically part of the TSA Precheck program. So if you plan to travel internationally, this is the program for you. You will receive a Global Entry card that can be used instead of a drivers license to board a domestic US plane. (You will still need your US passport to board a plane traveling internationally.)

Once you have been accepted and get your known traveler number, be sure that you give it to your travel agent when making reservations so that your boarding pass will indicate you are a trusted traveler. Like your frequent flier numbers, this can be put in your profile at your travel agency so you don’t have to give it out each time. One final note: Random checks are still performed on the trusted travelers. This means you might still be randomly selected to undergo the normal screening process even if enrolled in one of these programs.This has happened to me several times, so it is not rare.

These programs serve two benefits. One is less hassle for you when traveling. The second is it costs the government less to screen you. Unfortunately, this does not translate into a savings on your ticket, but it should help to keep costs down in general. As of December, 2017 we learned that the government may merge TSA Precheck and Global Entry. We will update this blog if that happens.

If you do get your Global Entry, you may apply for the U.K. Registered Traveler program which will give you similar screening benefits when traveling to the U.K. The details of this program can be found at www.gov.uk/registered-traveller .
The cost of this program is GBP 70, but it is only good for one year.

There are other programs, such as the CLEAR program which is currently limited to many of the larger US Airports, and not all of the terminals at an airport. For example, at MSP airport, only in Terminal 1. Cost is $179 per year although some elite flyers receive discounts. I might blog about this in the future.

Bottom line is I highly recommend that anyone doing multiple trips by air each year should consider getting TSA Precheck or Global Entry. This will save you time and hassle. If traveling domestically on a Minnesota drivers license for ID, please see my blog about Real ID.