The answers to your common TSA PreCheck questions
If you’re searching for time-saving shortcuts at the airport, look no further than the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program. This special privilege gives you access to shorter security screening lines that do not require you to remove articles of clothing or the contents from your carry-on bags for X-ray scanning. Because of the program’s immense popularity, the application process wait time has increased since the PreCheck’s 2013 inception. Plan early, however, and you may be enjoying the benefits of an expedited screening process on your next trip.
Q: How long does the TSA PreCheck application process take?
A: The application process for TSA PreCheck is relatively painless, but you should give the agency plenty of time to complete your request. Keep in mind that TSA is swamped with demands during the holidays and summer months.
The actual application process begins online, and it takes only approximately five minutes to fill out the form. You’ll also have to submit a non-refundable application fee and schedule an in-person interview with a TSA agent at an enrollment center. On the day of your interview, you’ll be fingerprinted, and the agency will begin a background check. The whole interview should take no more than 10 minutes, but don’t be surprised if it begins after your scheduled appointment time as the office is typically very crowded. You can speed up the process by making sure you bring all the necessary documents, including your passport. If you don’t have a passport, make certain you bring two forms of ID: a photo ID and a document that shows you meet the program’s citizenship requirements. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, you should receive news on your application status two to three weeks after your office visit.
Q: How long does the Global Entry application process take?
A: Global Entry is the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s own expedited processing system. Normally, once you depart from an international flight, you are required to speak with a customs agent and declare and pay duties on any eligible goods. Global Entry lets you skip the long lines and in-person interview. Instead, you’re able to declare your items, pay duties, and scan your passport and fingerprints via an electronic kiosk at the airport.
You can submit your application and pay the non-refundable application fee online for the Global Entry program. Typically, within a few days or weeks, you’ll be contacted to schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry office. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will start a background check on you prior to your arrival at their office. As a result, most in-person interviews only last around 15 minutes, and they consist primarily of basic personal questions and a quick fingerprinting and photo session. As with your PreCheck interview, you can expedite the process by bringing all of the required documents: a passport or resident card and a secondary form of ID. If there are no red flags during your background check or interview, you should get your Global Entry card in the mail in a matter of weeks.
Q: What is the cost of signing up for either or both programs?
A: As of April 2017, the fee for the TSA PreCheck application is $85. The Global Entry application fee will run you $100. If you qualify for Global Entry, however, you are also eligible for PreCheck credentials. In other words, for just $15 more, your Global Entry fee covers the costs of both programs.
Q: How long is my TSA PreCheck and Global Entry status valid?
A: After successfully completing the application and interview process for one or both programs, your PreCheck and Global Entry status are both good for five years from the date of approval.