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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Strack

Global Entry vs TSA Pre-Check. What's the difference?

If you’ve ever flown anywhere domestically, you’ve undoubtedly had the experience of enduring a TSA security line before your flight. Or when traveling internationally, you've experienced an immigration line upon re-entry to your home country.

You may have heard of Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. You fill out a fairly lengthy application, pay $100, and if your application passes the initial phase, you’re invited to an in-person interview/screening at a participating airport. If you pass that phase of the application, you are granted a Global Entry ID. In a nutshell, this is how it works:

At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration. The kiosk issues the traveler a transaction receipt and directs the traveler to baggage claim and the exit. (

In addition, people who are approved via the Global Entry program can ALSO participate in TSA Pre-Check, which allows people to skip regular TSA security lines at participating domestic airports and go through an expedited line — without having to remove shoes or other clothing items, open laptops, or do any of the other things that take up time in line.

Global Entry (and the accompanying TSA Pre-Check) is a good fit for your flying needs if:

  • You plan to travel internationally any time in the next five years. The more you travel, of course, the more worthwhile it will be — but many reviewers indicated that Global Entry is worth the time savings even if you travel internationally once a year or less.

  • Your credit card pays for enrollment. Many credit card rewards programs will pay for your initial Global Entry application. Be sure to check yours!

  • You live within a reasonable distance of and use any of the airports listed here. The Global Entry program requires the in-person interview, so if the nearest participating airport is several hundred miles from you, it might not be worth it, unless you are a very frequent flier.

Most airlines participate in TSA Pre-Check, but if you want to make sure TSA Pre-Check airlines and airports can be found here.

Current processing time for Global Entry is 4-6 months. I suggest if this is something you’re interested in for your next international trip, start now!

Another option is Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) that allows Global Entry applicants who are conditionally approved to complete their interviews upon arrival into the United States. The EoA program eliminates the need for a Global Entry applicant to schedule an interview at an enrollment center to complete the application process.

Do you have more questions about Global Entry or traveling? Reach out to me, I’d love to help!


My name is Meredith Strack -- Adventure and Family Travel Advisor Meredith loves the excitement of planning travel adventures! She is married and has three young children, ages 2, 4, and 6. She has traveled coast to coast through the United States, and has slept in 47 different states. She has visited 26 countries on 6 different continents, and can't wait to add more to her list each year. Her bucket list includes seeing each of the 7 New World Wonders, and she is so close to completing the challenge!


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