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What is TSA pre?

Updated: Dec 13, 2022  | Tags: Airport Security, ESTA Processing

The coronavirus pandemic halted all but essential travel, but as we return to normal, airports are busier than ever. While it is exciting to be planning trips once more, there is an aspect that can be annoying - security screening. Removing your belt, jacket and shoes, in addition to unpacking your hand luggage, is the last thing you want to have to worry about before boarding your flight.

Luckily, there is now a solution: the TSA PreCheck®. But is the TSA PreCheck® really worthwhile? Whether you are planning your next business trip or a vacation, read on to find out more.

What is TSA PreCheck®?

TSA PreCheck® is a program developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that is intended to streamline and simplify the security screening process for air passengers. As you are probably already aware, security lines are a bottleneck, with all the checks that are performed before you can get to your flight.

The US. government established TSA PreCheck® to allow specified travelers who have passed the rigorous screening by the Transportation Security Administration to access expedited security screening lines instead of the usual security screening arrangements. As a result, TSA PreCheck® screenings are far quicker — it usually takes passengers enrolled in TSA PreCheck® under five minutes to pass through security.

How does TSA PreCheck® work?

TSA PreCheck® is available only in U.S. airports for domestic departure flights as well as for travelers who are returning to the U.S. from abroad and who need to connect with a domestic flight. A similar program has been established for international flyers, Global Entry. TSA PreCheck® is not yet available at every airport, but the situation is changing rapidly. At the last count, more than 80 airlines and 200 airports have TSA PreCheck® points.

Can I apply for TSA PreCheck®?

TSA PreCheck® Application is only open to United States citizens, United States nationals, and Green Card holders (lawful permanent residents). A five-year membership costs $85. Not everyone is eligible: reasons for refusal include supplying incomplete or false information, violations of security regulations, criminal offenses, and other factors.

Once your application has been approved, you will be able to use dedicated, shorter lines at airport security checkpoints. You will not need to take off your jacket, shoes, or belt; you will also be able to leave laptops and liquids in your carry-on bag. It is clear to see that you can save time and avoid stress by using TSA PreCheck®.

Do I still need a passport and ESTA to travel with TSA PreCheck®?

Travelers from Visa Waiver Program member countries who are members of Global Entry will still require a valid passport and ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) or a visa.

Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS allow some citizens of foreign countries to apply. You can find more information on all programs here. In addition, nationals from the following countries may apply for Global Entry. They may also be eligible for the benefits of TSA PreCheck®, although they cannot apply for this program directly.

  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

In addition, Mexican and Canadian residents and citizens are eligible for Global Entry benefits when they sign up for NEXUS. However, only United States citizens and Green Card holders are eligible for CLEAR.

Some people may be excluded automatically from the various Trusted Traveler programs. You will be disqualified if you:

  • Fail to satisfy Customs and Border Protection with the evidence of low-risk status
  • Provide incomplete or false when making your application
  • Have a criminal conviction, or have pending warrants or criminal charges against you (including DUI)
  • Have violated any immigration, customs, or agriculture regulations
  • Are subject to any ongoing investigation by a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency
  • Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration laws

How do you sign up for TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry, CLEAR or NEXUS?

Applications for TSA PreCheck®, Global Entry, or NEXUS are made online by visiting the Trusted Traveler portal. The application process involves providing personal details to allow the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct a background check on you. In addition, if you are applying for NEXUS, the Canada Border Services Agency will perform a similar security background check.

After the Department of Homeland Security has successfully performed the background check, you must book a face-to-face interview. Enrollment centers for TSA PreCheck® are situated at many airports and locations throughout the United States. In contrast, Global Entry enrollment centers are usually situated at land border crossings and international airports. For this reason, most applicants find completing the interview process for TSA PreCheck® is more accessible than the Global entry program.

In addition, as there are fewer locations available for Global Entry application interviews, some people opt to apply for TSA PreCheck® instead. In the interview, During the interviews for both PreCheck® and Global Entry, a DHS officer will check that your information is accurate and take your photograph. They will also process your fingerprints, which are used to verify your identity at Global Entry kiosks on arrival from abroad.

Global Entry offers a further option known as “enrollment upon arrival.” Under enrollment on arrival, travelers who have been granted conditional approval may complete the interview on arrival in the United States. More than 60 airports offer this option, including 15 international airports.

How to apply for TSA PreCheck®

To gain access to faster security checkpoints, anyone over 12 must apply for TSA PreCheck®. Children under the age of 12 can access PreCheck® when traveling with an eligible parent. You must apply online; the initial application takes around five minutes to complete, and there is a non-refundable application fee of $85.

  • Schedule your appointment - The second stage of the application is face-to-face, and there are more than 380 available enrollment centers from which to choose.
  • Check what you must bring to the interview - As mentioned above, the TSA will verify your identity by fingerprint. You will need to bring a government-issued photo ID; in some instances, you may be required to show proof of citizenship, for example, your passport. The online tool on the Required Documents page of the Universal Enroll website will explain what documents you are required to bring.
  • Wait for your application to be approved - Most applicants will receive their Known Traveler Number three to five days after their appointment. Once you have been approved, you will be given a KTN. Save this number as you will require it when booking flights. However, should you lose or misplace the number, it is easy to look it up and retrieve it online.
  • Check your boarding pass - When checking in at an airport or printing your boarding pass, you should be able to see a TSA PreCheck® indicator. Now you can avoid the long lines and go directly to the TSA PreCheck® points.

Is TSA PreCheck® worth it?

For anyone who flies regularly, the $85 fee is well worth the cost, saving you from five years of long waits at security checkpoints and the annoyance of having to remove shoes and clothing. Traveling families, especially those with young children, will significantly benefit from TSA PreCheck®. In addition, some credit cards with travel rewards will give you credit to reimburse your TSA PreCheck® application fee. Some of the most popular cards participating in this scheme include American Express Platinum Card and Capital One Venture Rewards Card. There are many others, so check with your bank.