I am American. I will be traveling from Shanghai back to the US. Can I get TSA Precheck while abroad?

My 1-year-old son is also American. Same situation and question. My wife is Chinese. Same question.

  • What were you hoping to achieve with TSA Pre? Is your wife a LPR in the US?
    – Berwyn
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 5:48
  • 2
    There is no real advantage to TSA Pre on flights to the USA. It would only be beneficial on your way home.
    – user13044
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 6:31
  • So you are both saying that it is only beneficial on outbound flights not incoming flights? I thought that it would help at customs. It was mentioned on the TSA website and CBP website. Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 10:14
  • 4
    TSA Pre is for security check at the start of your flight. At US immigration and customs you'd want either Global Entry, US Mobile passport (but your wife can't use it), or Nexus perhaps. With Global Entry/Nexus you'd get TSA Pre thrown in
    – Berwyn
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 10:27
  • 1
    The only place TSA Pre might help at immigration would be post entry security before going to your connecting flight. But I haven't seen it at the airports I frequent.
    – user13044
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 13:11

1 Answer 1


TSA Precheck only applies to security checkpoints operated by the US Transportation Security Administration (and, at some US airports, checkpoints operated by contractors on behalf of TSA). At non-US airports, another country's airport security authorities are responsible, and they do not recognize TSA Precheck.

If you simply wish to enroll in TSA Precheck overseas for your use when you are in the US, you will need to complete the application and visit an enrollment center. As best I can tell, there are no enrollment centers outside the United States. A workaround is to apply for another Trusted Traveler program, such as Global Entry, which speeds your entry through US immigration and grants TSA Precheck benefits. There are Global Entry enrollment centers in Canada and Qatar. If those don't work for you, you'll need to enroll after you return to the US. You can do that in the immigration area when your flight gets in with Enroll on Arrival now (this requires you to go through the application process and be conditionally approved in advance, you can't just roll up and do it), though the benefits like TSA Precheck won't take effect immediately, so you wouldn't be able to use it for a connecting flight right then and there.

Note that TSA Precheck membership is only open to US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (other non-members may receive Precheck benefits on their boarding passes, though that will be happening less often now). Global Entry also allows citizens of some other countries, but not Chinese nationals.

  • 1
    Need to be US citizen or LPR for TSA Pre I believe.
    – Berwyn
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 5:49
  • 2
    Non-US citizens/PR's can get Pre-Check on a random basis, they just can't apply for it.
    – Doc
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 6:28
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    You don't need to be a US citizen to use TSA Pre, but perhaps you do to apply for it. My wife (non-usa, non-lpr) gets it when we travel together.
    – user13044
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 6:35
  • 2
    I think the reduction in access to "non-members" will not affect those who obtain their membership through a programme like Global Entry. From reading the article they are reducing the number of random pre-check ticks they give out to completely unverified passengers. So as a non-US citizen you can still obtain Pre-Check through these other routes.
    – Calchas
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 7:25
  • 2
    @JeffreyRust Besides people who have signed up, the TSA can also give Pre Check to people according to risk formula they've cooked up. The more you fly, the more likely you are to get it and the rubs off on the people who are flying with you. Other criteria such as age and nationality will be included too. Every so often the TSA say they're going to get rid of that part in order to encourage people to sign up, but it hasn't happened yet
    – Berwyn
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 10:58

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