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What Happens to TSA PreCheck When I Apply For Global Entry?

So, you’ve decided to level up your travel game and make the leap from a standalone TSA PreCheck membership to Global Entry. Smart move. But reader Mike Jones wanted to know: what exactly happens to your beloved TSA PreCheck membership during the application process? Let’s break it down.

Global Entry: The Upgrade You Didn’t Know You Needed

Global Entry is the ultimate trusted traveler program, offering a slew of benefits that go beyond the perks of TSA PreCheck. Think of it as TSA PreCheck on steroids. You still enjoy the hassle-free airport security experience, keeping your shoes on and liquids in your bag. But the perks extend to Customs & Border Protection at airports and land borders, as well as Canadian airport security (CATSA). That way, you won’t have to wait in a line like this one after a long-haul flight.

But here’s the burning question: What happens to your trusty TSA PreCheck membership when you embark on the Global Entry application journey, which for most people takes 4-6 months to complete? (CBP allows up to two years because it does take longer for some people)

The Simple Answer: Nothing Changes for TSA PreCheck

Your TSA PreCheck membership remains untouched and fully functional until your membership’s original expiration date. Both programs provide the same streamlined benefits at TSA screening checkpoints, making your journey through security a breeze. However, it’s worth noting that TSA PreCheck and Global Entry are completely separate programs, offered by different, independent agencies (one by TSA and the other by CBP, respectively). Upon approval, you will be assigned a PASS ID number, which doubles as a new Known Traveler Number (KTN).

It’s on you to keep both memberships up-to-date, but let’s be real—once you’ve tasted the efficiency of Global Entry, maintaining both might feel a tad redundant. Think of it kind of like continuing to use the Priority Pass from your AmEx Platinum while waiting for Chase to process your Sapphire Reserve application. Once the Chase-issued Priority Pass arrives, the AmEx one still functions, as it’s issued by a completely different entity. You can pay for both as long as you want, but aside from some overlap to ensure a smooth transition, you probably wouldn’t do that long-term.

Known Traveler Numbers (KTN): The Key to Smooth Travels

Now, let’s talk about Known Traveler Numbers, the secret sauce to your seamless travel experience. Much like having multiple credit cards, you can possess more than one active KTN. And just as you strategically choose which credit card to use, the same applies to your KTN.

According to the TSA, feel free to use any active KTN you’ve been assigned. However, once you receive your Global Entry approval, consider switching to your Global Entry PASS ID as your KTN when making flight reservations. Why? Because it not only grants you TSA PreCheck privileges at US airports, but it will expedite your re-entry into the US. Also consider the expiration date of each KTN; if you’re allowing your TSA PreCheck KTN to expire, consider if that KTN will still be active by the time you fly.

I reached out to the TSA for a bit of clarity, and received the following reply:

You’re correct, Adam! You may use any active KTN that you have been assigned.
However, if you’re traveling to a foreign country, please consider using your Global Entry PASS ID as your KTN when you make your flight reservation. With Global Entry, you’ll receive expedited customs processing when entering the U.S., plus you’ll receive TSA PreCheck® when flying from U.S. airports.
Please let us know if you have any other questions. – Faith

Reply from Transportation Security Administration

KTNs from Various Agencies

TSA is far from the only avenue to obtain Known Traveler Numbers. Here are a few ways to obtain them from various agencies:

  1. TSA PreCheck: Apply directly through TSA, and you’ll receive a TSA-issued KTN, a 9-character alphanumeric string starting with “TT.”
  2. Global Entry: Your Global Entry card’s PassID number doubles as a KTN, a 9-digit number that begins with “98,” “99,” or “1.”
  3. TWIC Card Holders: If you hold a valid TWIC card, the CIN number on it serves as a valid KTN. No need to do anything but add it to your reservations.
  4. Active-duty Military: For those serving our country, your 10-digit DoD ID number doubles as a KTN without the need to apply to anything else.

You can change the KTN on your frequent flyer profiles or existing reservations at any time. Keep in mind – generally when adding a KTN to your frequent flyer profiles, it will be applied to any new reservations, but you’ll need to work with the airline to switch KTNs on any existing reservations. If you like to live dangerously, this can even be done at the airport on day of travel, but I’d probably just message the airline on your platform of choice. Oh, and don’t add any Lord or Lady titles, or TSA won’t be amused.

There you have it—your guide to smoothly transitioning from TSA PreCheck to Global Entry. Now, go forth and skip those lines!