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Here’s Why TSA PreCheck and Global Entry Aren’t the Same

Here’s Why TSA PreCheck and Global Entry Aren’t the Same
Scott Dylan

There’s one topic that’s been perplexing travelers for a little while now. It turns out that not everyone is completely clear on the differences between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. These two programs are not the same thing. That means that you are not automatically entitled to the perks of both just because you’re registered with one. Are you ready to finally understand the difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry? Settle in for a quick lesson.

This Is TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is a program that allows eligible low-risk travelers to get through airport security faster. Travelers who are enrolled don’t need to take off their shoes, take off their belts, pull off jackets, remove liquids from their carry-on bags or remove laptops from bags. The TSA is reporting that 93 percent of PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes when checking in during November of 2018.

A person can apply directly through the TSA if they are a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident and they have not been convicted of certain crimes. TSA PreCheck membership costs $85 for five years. You will need to visit the PreCheck website and submit an online application. This takes about five minutes. It is then necessary to schedule an appointment at one of the more than the 380 enrollment centers around the country. You will need to agree to a background check, fingerprinting and an in-person interview.

This Is Global Entry

Global Entry is a program that is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It allows eligible low-risk travelers to enjoy speedier clearance when returning to the United States. Members can visit Global Entry kiosks when they arrive at airports and present their passports or permanent-resident cards. It is also necessary to use the kiosk’s fingerprinting scanner and complete a customs declaration. Global Entry members must go through a pre-approval process that includes an extensive background check and in-person interview. Global Entry will help you to enjoy a speedy arrival most of the time. However, nothing is guaranteed. All members could still be subject to deeper examinations upon entering the United States from a foreign country. Failing to comply with what you are asked to do could result in the termination of your membership privileges. Global Entry membership costs $100 for five years.

Here’s the Short Answer

What’s the difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry? TSA PreCheck speeds up your security process when you enter an airport. Global Entry speeds up your customs experience when you return to the United States from a foreign country.

Which One Is Better?

You might think that Global Entry membership isn’t worth the effort if you don’t fly internationally very often. However, there is one important detail to keep in mind before you write off the idea of signing up for Global Entry. Global Entry travelers automatically qualify for PreCheck membership. This eligibility is offered as a perk that goes along with your Global Entry status. That means that you can get the benefits of both programs if you simply pay $15 more and go through a slightly more intense application process.

View Comments (11)


  1. j2simpso

    December 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Don’t forget if you live in a border city near Canada you can apply for Nexus which gives you Global Entry privileges including PreCheck, speedy entry into Canada all for $50 CAD/USD every 5 years!

  2. xchpstang

    December 21, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    The same goes for SENTRI. If you cross by car from Mexico the time you save with the SENTRI is substantial, as in it can save you sometimes hours per trip, and worth every penny. As a bonus you get Global Entry and by extension PreCheck. It’s $122.25 plus $42 per vehicle you want to register. The other drawback is that it’s difficult to get it reimbursed with the myriad of premium cards that reimburse for Global Entry and PreCheck.

  3. jonsail

    December 21, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    With expired Nexus status, my wife and I got approved for Global Entry without an interview, although we did have interviews when we applied for Nexus. Perhaps, the interview is waived if you have already had one in applying for a similar previous program.

  4. scottinaz

    December 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

    I have Global Entry but my experience is this does not imply TSA PreCheck at least in practice. When I returned to the US from Amsterdam into LAX I used my Global Entry to enter the country however since TSA PreCheck was not printed on my boarding pass at AMS I was not allowed to use the TSA Pre Check line for my flight to PHX even though I showed them my Global Entry card. They told me that Global Entry did not mean TSA Pre Check. So I went back to checkin, had them print me a new boarding pass (this time with Pre Check) and then went through the Pre check line.

  5. odojoe

    December 22, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Scottinaz- Even with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, you may be randomly selected to a regular check line. It happens!

  6. CalRef

    December 22, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I have had the same experience as scottinaz. I think the reason is that, while more and more countries are recognizing and allowing TSA PreCheck for departures from their airports, most still do not. Additionally, I have been denied TSA PreCheck when flying foreign carriers departing from US airports.

  7. Dianne47

    December 24, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    In order to get PreCheck, the airline you’re flying on must be a member of the program. Foreign airlines such as LOT Polish and Austrian (and many more) are NOT members of the program, so passengers flying on them cannot get PreCheck for those departures.

  8. zephyr17

    December 26, 2018 at 5:37 pm

    I have a Nexus card and almost always get Pre-Check. You have to have your Known Traveler Number from the card on the reservation to really have a chance of getting Pre Check based on the trusted traveler program you belong to. You will get a KTN from any of the 4 DHS trusted traveler programs (SENTRI, NEXUS, Global Entry and PreCheck).

    Nexus is the best, you get the most (expedited US-Canada travel, into both countries. Love those Nexus lanes), Global Entry privileges, and PreCheck, plus it is the cheapest.

    Oh, and also speedier security lines at most Canadian airport CATSA checkpoints. CATSA’s equivalent to TSA PreCheck is based on the Nexus card.

  9. Lampsaw

    December 27, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Every time I go through the pre check line, the agent tells me “ no need to take your shoes and belt off”. The detector goes off. Next the TSA agent tells me to remove my belt and shoes and make me walk through again as I look at people in the regular line moving through quicker than me. I’m not sure the pre check is all it’s cracked up to be.

    It all sunk in when another time I went through pre check and two agents were having an intense and thought provoking discussion about how Hitler is still alive and living in Detroit.
    Pre check yea!

  10. Steve M

    December 28, 2018 at 9:06 am


    To clarify, having Global Entry does mean you have TSA Pre Check membership, but not necessarily that you have Pre Check for any particular flight. The airline may not participate, you may have been randomly selected to not get PreCheck for a particular flight, or perhaps they have intelligence about your flight and deny PreCheck to everyone on it – who knows? The TSA line minder certainly doesn’t know why PreCheck is not listed on your boarding pass, and showing your GobalEntry card and thus establishing TSA Pre Check membership doesn’t overcome this.

  11. jonsg

    January 3, 2019 at 10:34 am

    Another article entirely from the perspective of a US writer and pitched at a US audience. (Hint: flyertalk is a _global_ website.)

    There is another, _huge_, difference between the two programmes. Unlike Pre Check, Global Entry is, as the name suggests, available to citizens of many other countries. So far as I’m aware, it doesn’t convey Pre Check benefits to non-US Global Entry members, but I’m prepared to be corrected on that.

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