TSA, Customs & Immigration Options
Everyone hates the lines going through TSA checks as well as re-entering the country (USA) after a trip. There are a number of options available to speed up these processes with various costs and features.
TSA Security Lines and TSA Pre✓®
Getting a TSA Pre✓® indication on your boarding pass can save a lot of time going through airport security screening. In some situations it can save you a half hour or even more, but how do you get selected for TSA Pre✓®? We often find that we are selected for TSA Pre® when we get our boarding passes and the truth is we don’t really know why. We have not signed up but still almost always get it with certain airlines and never get it with a few others but if there is a selection process we have no idea how or why it works.
If you do a good amount of flying in or from the United States and really hate the hassle of those security lines, you should consider applying for TSA Pre✓®.
With a 5 year, $85 membership, you can speed through security and don’t need to remove your:
shoes, laptops, liquids, belts and light jackets.
There are a number of options for applying to get TSA Pre✓® but all
1. Apply Online HERE
Submit an online application in 5 minutes & schedule an appointment at any of 380+ enrollment centers.
2. Background Check (Find an office near you – HERE
A 10 minute, in person appointment that includes a background check and fingerprinting.
3. Enjoy TSA Pre✓®
Add your Known Traveler Number to your ticket and fly!
Note: Family members ages 12 and under traveling with an eligible parent or guardian with a TSA Pre✓® indicator on their boarding pass can participate in expedited screening. Family members 13 and older must go through standard security lines.
Customs And Immigration Clearance Options
Global Entry provides the TSA Pre ® benefit plus expedited US customs screening for international air travelers when entering the United States. TSA Pre ® costs $85 and Global Entry costs $100 for a five year membership. Travelers interested in Global Entry must apply through the Trusted Traveler Program.
How it Works
1. Apply Online HERE -Submit the online application.
2. Enroll – Schedule & attend your in-person appointment. Find an enrollment center HERE
3. Membership – Once accepted, your membership will last for 5 years.
- Includes TSA Pre✓®
- Reduced wait times with self-serve kiosks.
- No paperwork to be filled out by hand.
- Global Entry program members can use Global Entry Customs Kiosks at more than 75 airports when returning to the U.S. from travel abroad.
Mobile Passport App
This is an app that allows you to speed through Customs An Immigration at a number of airports and seaports. When it was first introduced we started using this app.You set up an account and store your passport information. Shortly before you arrive at a point of entry you use the app to declare flight or ship information and make a declaration. At that point the system provides a bar code that can be scanned by the CPB officer using a clearly marked, designated line (even when their scanners weren’t working they still just waved us through). The system worked great and we just walked through Customs And Immigration while others waited in long lines.While it was originally free it now costs $15 per year which is still less expensive than Global Entry and it actually seems to be faster getting through customs.
Mobile Passport Current Cities Served
Airports: BALTIMORE • BOSTON • CHICAGO • DALLAS • DENVER • FORT LAUDERDALE • HOUSTON • HOUSTON HOBBY • LOS ANGELES • MIAMI • MINNEAPOLIS • NEW YORK • NEWARK • ORLANDO • PHILADELPHIA • PHOENIX • PITTSBURGH • PORTLAND • RALEIGH DURHAM • SACRAMENTO • SAN DIEGO • SAN FRANCISCO •SAN JOSÉ • SAN JUAN • SEATTLE • TAMPA • WASHINGTON DULLES WEST
Seaports: PALM BEACH • MIAMI • SAN JUAN • FORT LAUDERDALE
NEXUS A Canadian System
NEXUS is a Canadian program that allows expedited entry into Canada, but it also provides Global Entry, which in turn provides TSA Pre✓®. Americans can apply and the application fee for NEXUS is $50 for adults, half of what Global Entry costs, and children under 18 are free. If you live near the Canada border, or have a trip planned to a location that handles NEXUS interviews, this is a far more cost-effective option for a whole family than Global Entry.
The downside is this service has been gaining in popularity and scheduling an appointment at last report, can take a number of months.
The Bottom Line
If don’t do a lot of international travel but still want to speed up your trip through airport security, the TSA Pre Check program is probably your best bet. If you do frequently travel overseas the Global Entry system gives you TSA and Immigration & Customs in one application. If you already have TSA Pre and you are going to travel internationally the Mobile Passport App would be a good addition especially if the travel is sporadic.