One of the most stressful aspects of travel can be the long lines at security as well as the customs and immigration process. The good news is that there are several programs available in the United States that can help expedite this process and make it a breeze for travelers flying both domestically and internationally.

Here is an explanation of 4 different programs and how you can best use them.


Clear is a private biometric identity verification program that allows travelers to skip the regular security line and move straight to the front of the line using their fingerprints and/or eye scans to identify them. Clear is available at over 50 airports in the United States and costs $179 per year for a regular subscription. They also offer family memberships, student memberships, and complimentary trial memberships.

To apply for Clear, travelers can sign up online or at a Clear enrollment center located at participating airports. The enrollment process includes scanning ID documents, fingerprints, and facial image capture. Once enrolled, Clear members can simply use their biometric information to bypass the regular airport line and enjoy a hassle-free security check.

TSA Pre-Check

TSA Pre-Check at Reagan National Airport

TSA Pre-Check is a program created by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that allows eligible travelers to use an expedited security screening process at airports. With TSA Pre-Check, travelers can keep their shoes, belt, and light jacket on, and their liquids and laptop in their carry-on bags. TSA Pre-Check costs $85 for a 5-year membership and is available at over 200 airports across the country.

To apply for TSA Pre-Check, travelers can submit an online application and schedule an appointment at any of the 500+ TSA enrollment centers. The enrollment process includes fingerprinting, a background check, and an interview. Once enrolled, travelers will receive a TSA Pre-Check membership number that they can add to their flight reservations to enjoy the benefits of TSA Pre-Check.

Global Entry

Global Entry kiosks at San Jose International Airport

Global Entry is a program created by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows eligible travelers to bypass long lines at customs and passport control when entering the United States from abroad. In addition to TSA Pre-Check benefits, Global Entry members can use automated kiosks to check-in and complete their customs declaration form. The program costs $100 for a 5-year membership and is available at over 75 airports in the United States, as well as several international airports.

To apply for Global Entry, travelers can submit an online application and schedule an appointment at a Global Entry enrollment center for a background check and an interview. Once approved, they will receive a Global Entry membership number that they can add to their flight reservations to enjoy the benefits.

Mobile Passport Control

Mobile Passport Control is a free smartphone app available to U.S. and Canadian citizens that allows them to submit their passport information and customs declaration form electronically before landing. This can save a lot of time in the regular customs and immigration line. Mobile Passport Control is available at 26 airports and 3 cruise ports across the United States.

To use Mobile Passport Control, travelers simply need to download the app and create a profile. They can then select the airport they will be arriving at, answer the customs declaration questions, and submit their information. Once submitted, travelers will receive a QR code which they can show to a CBP officer to expedite the process.

Which program should you get?

Travelers should get the program that best fits their travel needs. For domestic travelers who want to speed up the security process, TSA Pre-Check is the best option. For frequent international travelers who want to reduce wait times at customs and passport control, Global Entry is the way to go. If travelers frequently face long security lines and they are willing to pay for it, Clear is a great option. Finally, Mobile Passport Control is an ideal option for frequent international travelers who don’t want to spend money on a paid program.

Should travelers use multiple programs?

Yes, travelers can use multiple programs depending on their travel itinerary. For example, if a traveler has both Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check, they can use the automated kiosks at passport control and move quickly through the security process. The Clear program can also be used in conjunction with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check for an added perk.

In conclusion, understanding the differences between these programs can help travelers expedite the customs and immigration process and enjoy a stress-free travel experience. As your trusted travel advisor, I am here to educate you and navigate you through all your choices. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me to discuss any of the above options, and how I can help you plan your next dream vacation!

Happy Travels!


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