Updated: June 10, 2023

What is the difference between TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and CLEAR for Getting Through Airport Security and Customs?

TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and CLEAR are all programs designed to enhance and expedite the airport travel experience, but they serve different purposes and have distinct benefits.

Here's our comparison of these four programs:

What is TSA PreCheck?

Purpose of TSA PreCheck

Expedite security screening for domestic flights within the United States.

Benefits of TSA PreCheck

Shorter security lines, no need to remove shoes, belts, and light jackets, and keep laptops and liquids in carry-on bags.

Who is Eligible for TSA PreCheck?

TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents.

Learn More About TSA PreCheck

Expert Airport Gate Check In Security Customs

What is Global Entry?

Purpose of Global Entry

Facilitate international travel by expediting customs and immigration processes for U.S. citizens and international travelers.

Benefits of Global Entry

  • Includes all TSA PreCheck benefits
  • Plus expedited processing at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) checkpoints when entering the United States.

Who is Eligible for Global Entry?

Global Entry is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and lawful permanent residents, as well as citizens of certain other countries.

What is NEXUS?

Purpose of NEXUS

Expedite travel between the United States and Canada.

Benefits of NEXUS

  • Includes all Global Entry and TSA PreCheck benefits
  • Plus expedited processing at Canadian customs and immigration checkpoints.

Who is Eligible for NEXUS?

NEXUS is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

What is CLEAR® Plus

Purpose of CLEAR Plus

Streamline the airport security process by using biometric technology (such as fingerprint or iris scans) to verify identity. This program is run by a private company.

Benefits of CLEAR Plus

  • Once enrolled, travelers can use CLEAR Plus immediately at the airport
  • Bypass regular security lines and go straight to document check and physical screening.

Who is Eligible for CLEAR Plus?

Available to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

Key Differences Between TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and CLEAR Plus - What You Need to Know

Scope of Benefits

TSA PreCheck focuses on domestic security screening, Global Entry adds international customs and immigration benefits, NEXUS is specific to travel between the U.S. and Canada, and CLEAR streamlines the document check and physical screening process.

Geographic Coverage

TSA PreCheck and CLEAR are available at various airports across the United States, while Global Entry and NEXUS involve international travel with a focus on U.S. and Canadian border crossings.

Application Process

The application processes for these programs involve background checks and, in some cases, in-person interviews. Fees also vary, and some programs may have different eligibility criteria.

Cost, Duration, and Approval Time of TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and CLEAR Plus

  TSA PreCheck Global Entry NEXUS CLEAR Plus
COST $78/$85 $100 $50 $189
DURATION Five Years Five Years Five Years Five Years
TYPICAL APPROVAL TIME 3-5 Days 4-6 Months 12-14 Months Immediate, once enrolled
PROVIDED BY TSA U.S. Customs & Border Protection U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canada Border Services Agency Private company

Many frequent travelers find value in combining programs. For example, some people have both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry for comprehensive domestic and international benefits. It's essential to consider your travel patterns and needs when choosing the program(s) that best suit you.

FAQs About TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, and CLEAR

You can apply online, undergo a background check, and schedule an in-person appointment for fingerprinting. If approved, you'll receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN).

The cost to apply for TSA PreCheck is either $78 or $85, and depends on if you apply through Telos or Idemia. (At the time of publishing.) You can expect to pay this if you file for consideration through the federal government.

Apply online, pay a non-refundable fee, undergo a background check, and schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center.

Apply online, pay a fee, undergo a background check, and attend an in-person interview at a NEXUS Enrollment Center.

CLEAR is a private program that uses biometric technology to expedite the airport security process by verifying identity through fingerprint or iris scans. You can apply online, complete the in-person verification process (including biometric scans), and start using CLEAR at participating airports.

Key Differences between NEXUS and Global Entry

Scope of Travel:

  • Global Entry focuses on expedited processing for travelers entering the U.S. from international destinations.
  • NEXUS is specifically tailored for travel between the United States and Canada, offering benefits for both U.S. and Canadian citizens.

Participating Countries:

  • Global Entry involves only the United States.
  • NEXUS involves both the United States and Canada.

Application Process:

  • While both programs require an online application, a fee, a background check, and an in-person interview, the interview locations may differ as they are conducted by the respective country's authorities (CBP for Global Entry and both CBP and the Canada Border Services Agency for NEXUS).

It's worth noting that having a NEXUS membership automatically includes Global Entry benefits, but the reverse is not true. Therefore, if your primary travel involves the U.S. and Canada, NEXUS might offer more comprehensive benefits. If your travel is more global, then Global Entry might be more suitable.

The processing time for getting approval for NEXUS or CLEAR Plus can vary, and it depends on several factors, including the current volume of applications, the completeness of your application, and the efficiency of the processing by the respective agencies.

The processing time for NEXUS applications can vary. After submitting your application, it may take several weeks to months before you are conditionally approved and invited for an interview. The interview availability at NEXUS Enrollment Centers can also affect the overall timeline.

The application process for CLEAR typically involves an in-person verification step at an enrollment center, and this step can often be completed on the same day you apply. Therefore, CLEAR may offer a faster approval process compared to programs that require a more extensive background check and interview process.

Additionally, consider your specific travel needs and whether the program's benefits align with your preferences before deciding which one to apply for.

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