What You Need to Know About Airport Security Clearances

Jul 9, 2018 2 min read

Skip the headache of getting stuck in a long line — and potentially missing your flight — with expedited airport security clearance. We outline costs, benefits and the best choices based on your travel: international, domestic or just to a select airport.

TSA PreCheck

Who’s it for? Domestic air travelers

Cost: $85 for 5 years¹

Required documents: Valid U.S. government-issued photo identification and proof of citizenship (passport only or driver’s license and birth certificate)

TSA PreCheck gives you access to an expedited line that will cut down your airport wait time and speed up the security process. You can keep your laptop or liquids in your bag, and your shoes and jacket can stay on. And before you go, check out our travel checklist.

Sign up or register online, then you’ll need to complete the in-person, TSA PreCheck interview. (You can also complete the whole process in person.) Don’t forget the documents listed above, and your application should be vetted in a couple weeks. You’ll receive your known traveler number, which will let you speed through security at more than 150 airports across the country.

Before you travel, check with your airline to ensure they are a participating carrier.¹

Global Entry

Who’s it for? International travelers

Cost: $100 for 5 years¹

Required documents: Passport or permanent resident card

Do you dread the long wait through customs after an international flight? Skip it with Global Entry. Instead of waiting with the masses, you’ll head straight for a kiosk to scan your passport and fingerprints. The machine will take your photo and verify your identity.

You can use Global Entry at one of the participating airports,¹ but be prepared for a wait. It can take months to schedule your in-person interview, and you’ll have to go to one of the enrollment-approved airports. To start the process, create an account online, pony up the nonrefundable $100 application fee and wait for conditional approval to schedule an in-person appointment.

Once approved, Global Entry will get through customs more quickly, plus you’ll get a complimentary TSA PreCheck. Find out if your insurance covers you abroad.


Who’s it for? Domestic travelers who frequent participating airports

Cost: $179 per year¹

Required documents: U.S. driver’s license, passport, passport card, permanent resident card, state issued ID or military ID

Your wait will get even shorter — at certain airports — with CLEAR. Instead of waiting in the ID check line, you’ll head to a special lane to scan your boarding pass and fingerprint or iris, then head directly to security. The company says this will take you just 5 minutes. Once you’re through the ID checkpoint, skip ahead even more if you have TSA PreCheck.

But it’s not at all airports. CLEAR is only available at certain airports. Check to ensure your airport is a participating airport before you sign up.

Fill out an application online, then finish your enrollment (identify verification, iris scanning and fingerprints) at a participating airport.

Do you frequent Mexico or Canada by vehicle? Get through the border faster  — by land, sea or air  — with SENTRI. NEXUS offers similar benefits, limited to just Canada. Each gives you access to an expedited vehicle/pedestrian entrance into U.S. and comes with TSA PreCheck. Each require proof of citizenship and any applicable documentation or visas necessary for entry into the U.S.

SENTRI ($122.50 for 5 years)¹ covers travel from Mexico, and NEXUS ($50 for 5 years)¹ gets you home quicker from Canada.



¹ Subject to change






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