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Should You Enroll in a Trusted Traveler Program?

Make clearing security or U.S. Customs easy with TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and others.

Pre-approved traveler programs allow you to skip some of the regular screenings when flying commercially.

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Anything that makes getting through an airport easier and less stressful is a good thing, and that's exactly what the various trusted traveler programs are designed to do. Eligibility requirements, costs, and availability differ with each program, so if after reading this overview you're still not sure which is right for you, try this interactive page on the Department of Homeland Security's website.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck (also called simply TSA Pre) is a Transportation Security Administration program for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents traveling within the United States. A passport is not required.

The designation grants access to the TSA PreCheck security line at airports, though not all airports participate in the program. The line typically moves more quickly, as TSA PreCheck passengers are not required to remove shoes, laptops, belts, and other items, which can cause delays in the regular security lines.

Cost: $85 for a 5-year membership

How to Apply: You need to pre-enroll online and make an appointment to visit an enrollment center for an interview. At the interview, an official will take your fingerprints and verify your ID.

Global Entry

Global Entry is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the program is available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as “citizens of certain other countries.” You'll need a passport or a lawful permanent resident card to apply.

With Global Entry, you get the benefits of TSA PreCheck when flying domestic, and you'll also get through border control more quickly when you arrive in the U.S.

Cost: $100 for a 5-year membership

How to Apply: You need to pre-enroll online. If your application is accepted, you will need to make an appointment to visit an enrollment center for an interview. At the interview, an official will take your fingerprints and verify your ID.

Nexus

Nexus is a CBP program that's strictly for traveling between the U.S. and Canada, and is available to citizens and lawful permanent residents of both countries. No passport is required.

With Nexus, citizens and lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and Canada get the benefits of TSA PreCheck as well as Global Entry benefits. You'll have access to expedited processing during arrivals in both countries—not just the United States.

Cost: $50 for a 5-year membership

How to Apply: You need to pre-enroll online and make an appointment to visit an enrollment center for an interview. At the interview, an official will take your fingerprints and verify your ID.

Sentri

The Sentri program, also operated by CBP, is solely for returning to the U.S. from Mexico via land. No passport is required.

Sentri includes TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, plus speedier processing at land borders upon arriving in the U.S. from Mexico.

Cost: $122.25 for a 5-year membership

How to Apply: You need to pre-enroll online and make an appointment to visit an enrollment center for an interview. At the interview, an official will take your fingerprints and verify your ID.

Clear

The only private program authorized by the TSA, Clear is available to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. A passport is not required.

Clear gets you through security faster with screening kiosks that scan your fingerprint or retina, rather than waiting for a TSA official to check your ID. At the time of this writing, Clear kiosks are only at a limited number of airports—as well as a few baseball stadiums.

Cost: $179 per year

How to Apply: You can pre-enroll online, then visit a Clear location (no appointment required). You only need to bring your ID.

This article was published in January 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.