Waiting in lines is a part of travel. It sucks, but there’s nothing you can do about it — most of the time.
If you’re an American citizen or resident who’s sick of waiting in line at domestic airports, I’ve got the perfect solution for you.
Thanks to its participation with TSA Precheck, this kick-ass US government program allows eligible travelers to bypass lines at passport control AND security. Sounds pretty sweet, right?
Well, I just got mine… and let me tell you: it IS.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about applying for Global Entry and getting TSA Precheck.
How to Get Global Entry and TSA Precheck
Global Entry is a “trusted traveler” program run by the US government. Essentially, it allows “low-risk” US citizens to travel more easily. Once accepted to the program, you’ll receive a “Known Traveler ID” number that you can input when booking flights.
What are the benefits of Global Entry?
If you book flights using your known traveler number, you can bypass the long lines at passport control when returning to the country. Instead of waiting in line to talk to an agent, you’ll simply go to one of the automated kiosks and scan your passport.
And what about TSA Precheck?
Once you’re accepted to Global Entry, you’ll be eligible for TSA Precheck when flying domestically. This will often (but not always) allow you to go to the expedited security line.
Who can apply for Global Entry with TSA Precheck?
In short: American citizens who don’t have a criminal record. Also: lawful permanent residents, Dutch citizens, Korean citizens, and Mexican nationals. Here’s a full list of eligibility requirements.
That’s me. How can I apply?
Visit this website and fill out an online application. The application took me about an hour to complete, because it asked for previous addresses, jobs, and countries visited from the past FIVE years. (Phew!)
Once you’ve submitted your online application, you’ll receive a letter of conditional approval. (That is, if you’re conditionally approved.)
Next you’ll have to schedule an in-person interview at one of 16 domestic locations (mostly airports in major cities). Schedule your interview as soon as you’re able, because some location’s slots are filled several months ahead of time.
What’s the interview like?
My interview was brief. A woman asked me how often I traveled, why I traveled so much, who I traveled with, and what I was doing in Nicaragua, Korea, etc. All in all, it took about five minutes — and it might take less time if you have a more normal career and travel history.
How much does it cost?
There’s a $100 application fee per person, which is NOT refunded if your application is declined. (Though this American Express card will refund application fees for you and your family.)
How long is it good for?
Once your application is approved, your Global Entry status will be good for five years — after which you’ll have to pay another $100 and potentially schedule another interview.
Will I look super badass when I get to use the expedited line at security?
Yes. You don’t even have to take off your shoes or remove your laptop from your bag. People will think you’re first class or royalty… until they sit next to you in coach.
Why didn’t I get this years ago?
No clue. I can’t believe I just got mine a few months ago. I think I mistakenly believed that Global Entry was some program for spies or billionaires.
But don’t fret — just get on it now!
What other questions do you have about the Global Entry and TSA Precheck program? Any fellow “known travelers” out there?