4 Trusted Traveler Programs That Save You Time (and Stress) at U.S. Airport Security

by Garvey Schubert Barer
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Because this is an “International” blog, we need to talk about one of the most important aspects of international business –  travel.

And as you know, we are in the thick of the travel season. So it only makes sense to A) take stock of the best way to navigate the unpleasantness of flying, and B) to learn from the mistakes of others (me).

I’ll start by telling you what you already know: airports are busy and lines are long. I’ll add to that and tell you another thing you likely already know: that many of you can save yourself a lot of headache by signing up for a Trusted Traveler program through the Department of Homeland Security. The most common known of those programs is TSA PreCheck , which is available as a stand-alone program to U.S. citizens, nationals, and lawful permanent residents. Enrollees are allowed to move through security lines without taking off their shoes or light jackets or removing electronics and liquids from the luggage. Additionally, TSA PreCheck normally has a separate line and screening area. To boot, children ages 12 and under traveling with an eligible parent or guardian with TSA PreCheck can take advantage of expedited screening as well. But please be aware that both parents must be enrolled if children are traveling with both parents.  Screeners won’t allow an individual through (no matter the hurry and begging!) unless they are a program enrollee. Ultimately, TSA PreCheck adds up to less time spent in security, which hopefully results in less time spent at the airport, saving you from a lot of headache. And avoiding headaches is something we all want.

What you might not know is that Homeland Security’s several other Trusted Traveler programs might be right for you, too, including those of you not eligible for TSA PreCheck as a stand-alone program. Check out this helpful chart (which wasn’t available when I signed up for TSA PreCheck, only to then sign up for Global Entry one year later!) As you can see, SENTRI, Global Entry, and NEXUS all include TSA PreCheck and other various travel benefits – and at least NEXUS is cheaper. For those of you who frequently travel to and from the U.S., one, or all, of the programs can vastly improve your entry time and your travel experience. And, as someone who has gone through the application for both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry, the process was essentially the same from my perspective. I’ve heard the NEXUS procedure is similar as well.

Some additional factors to consider:

  • TSA is an “in U.S.” expedited airport screening process that doesn’t do anything regarding admission to the U.S. or into any other country.
  • For many international travelers, Global Entry is THE way to go, as it is available to many individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for TSA PreCheck and gives TSA PreCheck as a part of it. So you get in-US expedited screening and arrival-to-the US expedited admission.
  • Enrollment in Global Entry also can result in easier admission to other countries, such as Australia, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the UK, though some of those countries require additional registration and/or fees.
  • NEXUS is a U.S./Canada issue. It also works for admission to and travel within Canada. Global Entry is (generally, see above) for admission to US only, so some may want Global Entry and NEXUS if they travel to and within (by air or sea) Canada with regularity.
  • SENTRI is a southern border (Mexico) issue that I don’t know a lot about, but for someone who travels between the US and Mexico often, it can be helpful there.

So while nothing can make travel, especially family travel, stress free, there are certainly things we can do to make it more palatable. And one of those things, at least in my opinion, is enrolling in one or more of the various Trusted Traveler programs.

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Garvey Schubert Barer
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