Traveling this year? Here’s what you need to know about TSA PreCheck, CLEAR Plus and Global Entry

By Hira Qureshi, The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — There’s one thing everyone dreads when making their way to the airport: a long security line. Luckily, there are workarounds to expedite the process and get you to your gate in time for a preboarding treat.

Whether you’re jetting off to visit the Philly-themed bar in Tokyo or heading home after adventures abroad, programs like Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR PLUS can help travelers members move through the line faster.

While each offer similar privileges, the three programs often get conflated together. Understanding what each program provides and how to apply can help you select the right program for your traveling needs.

Here’s everything you need to know about Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, and CLEAR Plus.

What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is an expedited screening program of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration that allows travelers to keep their shoes and light outerwear jacket on, as well as small travel-sized liquids and electronics in carry-on bags. About 99% of folks wait in the TSA PreCheck checkpoint lane for 10 minutes or less, according to TSA regional spokesperson Lisa Farbstein.

Travelers go through TSA security checkpoints at the Philadelphia International Airport on Dec. 21, 2021, in Philadelphia. (Jose F. Moreno/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

How to get TSA PreCheck?

Visit tsa.gov/precheck to enroll for the service online. Select an enrollment provider that fits your needs in a location near you. Make an appointment to complete the process in-person, which includes fingerprinting, document and photo capture, and payment. Be sure to bring an original or certified copy of identity/citizenship status for the application process. Once enrolled, you’ll receive a “known traveler number” (KTN).

How much is TSA PreCheck?

Fees vary depending on TSA-selected enrollment partners. Choose a provider based on cost, locations, and additional benefits. TSA lists provider like Telos at $85 and IDEMIA at $78 (these are one-time fees for the five years the service is active). It’s important to start on the TSA site, Farbstein advises, because third party vendors charge more money. “Don’t pay anyone in advance — only pay when you have your in-person enrollment or you are getting ripped off.”

How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck?

Accepted travelers typically wait about a week to get their KTN after their appointment. You’ll need the KTN to enter when purchasing a ticket or to give your travel adviser for your frequent flyer profile.

Does Global Entry include TSA PreCheck?

The KTN you receive when enrolled in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Global Entry program can also be used for TSA PreCheck benefits.

How long does TSA PreCheck last?

TSA PreCheck is good for five years.

Does TSA PreCheck work for international flights?

You’ll find the TSA PreCheck indicator on your boarding pass when you arrive at the travel document checking station at the TSA checkpoint. It is not valid when flying from another country into the U.S.

How to add TSA PreCheck when booking?

Enter your KTN into the online field when purchasing an airline ticket or give it to your travel adviser for your frequent flyer profile.

How to renew TSA PreCheck?

After five years, renew online or in-person with your selected enrollment provider. Telos charges $70 online and in-person, and IDEMIA asks for $70 online and $78 in-person.

People waiting in the TSA at the Philadelphia International Airport. (Tyger Williams/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program, allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited clearance upon arriving on U.S. soil. Members enter the country at Global Entry lanes where processing technology advances them with photo verification of membership. Once the photo has been captured, instructions pop up on the screen for members to proceed to a CBP officer to complete the process. With Global Entry, you’ll skip processing lines and paperwork, have access to expedited entry benefits in other countries and reduced wait times, and will be TSA PreCheck eligible.

“One thing that applicants should understand about CBP’s Global Entry program is that this is a contract based on trust,” said Steve Sapp, public affairs officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Members agree to comply with all U.S. laws, including truthfully declaring all items they are bringing back to the United States to a CBP officer, and in return, CBP grants them expedited arrivals privileges.”

How to apply for Global Entry?

If your are eligible for Global Entry, create a Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) account — all ages must have their own profile. Log in and complete the application with a $100 non-refundable one-time fee for five-year membership (even if an application is denied). CBP will review your completed application and if conditionally approved you’ll be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center. Note: Global Entry is member-specific and cannot be extended to others in your traveling party.

What to bring to your Global Entry interview?

All applicants must undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview before enrollment. According to Sapp, demand for the Global Entry interview is “extraordinarily high due to the incredible popularity” for this Trusted Traveler program.

Bring a valid passport and a second form of identification (driver’s license or ID card) to the interview. If you are a permanent resident, you must have a machine readable permanent resident card.

If you are unable to schedule an interview before traveling, there is an option for conditionally approved members upon arrival to the U.S. with Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) at participating airports. You must have a valid passport, proof of residency including driver’s license or rental payment statement (this is not required for minors), and a permanent resident card (if applicable).

How long does Global Entry last?

Global Entry membership is good for five years.

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How long does it take to process a Global Entry application?

Processing time varies but applicants may receive a conditional approval or a denial within a few weeks to a few months. Sapp recommends checking your Trusted Traveler portal for status updates.

How to renew Global Entry?

You will be eligible for renewal one year prior to program expiration. Submit a renewal application before your membership expires to continue to using benefits up to 24 months after the expiration date.

Log in to your TTP account. Select renew on your Global Entry program membership section and declare your citizenship. Choose the program you wish to renew — you can also select to renew another eligible program. Acknowledge the program requirements and follow the guidelines to update all the application information on the final review page. Confirm, save, and certify the application. And pay the nonrefundable fees for application processing.

What is CLEAR Plus?

CLEAR Plus, a paid airport membership, uses facial, iris and fingerprint biometrics. Members get a quick identity verification experience at the airport when they step up to a CLEAR pod and verify their identity with eye or fingerprint scans — no government issued photo I.D. needed. CLEAR was founded by the TSA to meet baseline security and privacy controls, and is certified as a Department of Homeland Security Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technology.

How much is CLEAR Plus?

CLEAR Plus is $189 a year. If prospective members have certain credit card rewards with airlines like United Airlines or Delta Airlines, they often receive discounts for membership enrollment. Additionally, military service members and government employees are eligible for CLEAR Plus at a discounted rate. Visit enroll.clearme.com/enroll to sign up with your government I.D.

What is the difference between CLEAR Plus, TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

You don’t need all three programs, but many members enjoy CLEAR Plus with both government services, said Ricardo Quinto, senior director of public affairs and communications at CLEAR.

CLEAR, co-founded by Caryn Seidman-Becker and Ken Cornick, is a paid membership program for expedited identity verification at the airport. TSA PreCheck is a U.S. government program for low-risk travelers to move through TSA with convenience. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expedited clearance program for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the U.S.

Do you need TSA PreCheck or Global Entry for CLEAR Plus?

CLEAR Plus members do not need TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to reap the benefits of CLEAR. Quinto said members often find CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck complement each other for a quick route through the airport.

©2024 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Visit inquirer.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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