Why Travelers Are Being Encouraged to Apply for TSA PreCheck Instead of Global Entry

Applications for Global Entry are currently taking anywhere from 6-18 months to process.

Travelers pass under a TSA Pre-Check checkpoint at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security is encouraging travelers who mostly fly domestic to skip Global Entry and opt for TSA PreCheck instead amid long application wait times that can stretch up to more than a year.

“If you do not travel multiple times per year internationally, we recommend applying for the TSA PreCheck Program,” DHS wrote on its website. “Most TSA PreCheck applicants can schedule an appointment in less than 2 weeks and, if approved, can receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) in about 3 to 5 days after the appointment.” 

Federal officials have struggled to keep up with Global Entry applications — a program in which pre-screened international travelers can skip the customs line — since the pandemic forced a five month closure in March 2020, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Currently, “application processing delays” for Global Entry — along with other expedited programs SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST — are stretching up to 6 to 18 months to complete, according to DHS.

DHS said some Global Entry applications are reviewed quickly, but the agency encouraged “applicants to check interview appointment availability at a preferred Enrollment Center before applying.” 

Alternatively, applicants who have been conditionally approved can participate in the agency’s Enrollment on Arrival program in which arriving international passengers can simply complete their interview when they get to a participating airport, significantly speeding up the process.

The Global Entry program is increasingly popular. As of March, more than 10 million people had enrolled in one of CBP's Trusted Traveler Programs, with nearly 8 million of them enrolled in Global Entry. TSA PreCheck, which is included with Global Entry, is an expedited airport security process that includes a separate security line and doesn’t require passengers to remove things like their shoes and laptops.

“Global Entry offers members many benefits, and it’s certainly something international travelers eligible for the program should consider,” Michael Millich, the director of CBP Trusted Traveler Programs, said in a statement earlier this year. “We have had a large demand for TTP enrollment, especially over the past several months, and we’ve identified different solutions to try to address this.” 

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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