General Travel, International Travel

The Trusted Traveler Program – is it for you?

TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry? 

Anyone who has experienced clearing US Customs when traveling internationally will tell you the line is long and you breathe a sigh of relief after reaching the other side.  

This is especially true for busy airports like JFK, Charlotte, Chicago, Atlanta and LAX to name a few. 

photo courtesy of US.State.Gov

There is a way to lighten the burden of clearing US Customs for those who travel frequently.  I just completed this process and I am looking forward to traveling internationally again with the Global Entry card in my pocket! 

There are five types of trusted traveler programs for the US Customs and Borders. 

  • ​The two most popular are the TSA Pre-check and Global Entry
  • Two other programs are for those who frequently travel to Canada or Mexico
  • One is for commercial truck drivers. 
  • See all five at the link below to see which one is right for you.  


You’ve seen that TSA Pre-check line at the airport… perhaps you wished you were in it instead of the regular traveler line.

What is the difference between TSA Pre-check and Global Entry? 
Does one matter more than the other?  

If you are considering the TSA Pre-check then it’s in your best interest to pay the extra $15 and do Global Entry as TSA Pre-check is included with the Global Entry program. 

What is Global Entry?
Global Entry is for international travel while TSA Pre-check is for travel within the US and US Territories.  

What are the benefits of Global Entry?

  • Expedited Customs and Border Protection processing into U.S. following an international flight, after a cruise, or crossing the US borders.
  • Access to TSA Pre✓® expedited security lanes at airports within the U.S. and U.S territories.
  • Expedited vehicle/pedestrian entrance into U.S. from Canada and Mexico.

​How to apply and what is the process?
You begin the process by creating an account and applying online.
Once you apply and pay the fee then you will wait to receive your approval for an interview. This can take some time.  For some people it’s a matter of days.  For me, it was a little over two months to receive the approval and move to the next step which is the interview. 

Once you receive notification that you’ve been approved for the interview you will make an appointment online at your nearest US Customs and Borders office.

Where to go?  There is a list of areas by state and region on the Trusted Travelers website.
Find an Enrollment Center Near You:

At the Interview:
You will be met by a Customs and Borders officer. You will need your passport, your state photo ID such as a driver’s license and (if asked) a utilities bill to confirm your residency.  I used my passport, state driver’s license and military dependent ID card.

During the interview the officer will confirm the information and will take your photo for your Global Entry card.  Your card, which is a hard-plastic card much like your driver’s license, will be mailed to you within a week of the interview.

The Customs officer will also explain the program, what you to expect at the airport, how to clear US Customs from international travel and answer any questions you may have for them. 

The entire interview time usually takes 15-20 minutes to complete.  Once accepted your membership will be valid for 5 years.  At which time you will need to renew.  

Also, if you obtain a new passport then you will have to visit your nearest US Customs and Borders office with your Global Entry card and have your new passport scanned to your account.  This takes only a few minutes to complete but you may have to wait for the officer to be available.  

NOTE:Every member of your traveling party will need their own membership in order to use the Global Entry kiosks.

This means every member of your family, including children, will have to go through the enrollment process. 

Global Entry also means… No paper arrival customs for to complete.

All declarations are done on the Global Entry kiosk.


  • Global Entry = International Travel
  • TSA Pre-check = US and US Territories

If traveling internationally – anywhere outside the US Borders including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean then you will want Global Entry for a speedy entrance back into the United States of America.  It is well worth the $100 fee for 5 years | $20 per year. 

Did you find information helpful? Are you interested in experiencing a cruise or land vacation for yourself? Then consider booking your next vacation with us at Sail & Sand Travel. We are here to assist you with expert advice and personalized service.

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