Airports are busy, crowded, and your time is precious. So what are your options? You probably don't want to get there hours ahead of time or wait in long lines ahead of your flight. TSA PreCheck® can streamline your airport experience by allowing you to access expedited security screening lanes.
Members of this trusted traveler program tend to enjoy shorter airport security lines. Also, with TSA PreCheck, you don't have to remove certain items you're wearing or have packed in a carry-on bag. These conveniences are likely why the program is so popular. Let's review how you can get TSA PreCheck.
How do you get TSA PreCheck?
You can get TSA PreCheck by completing a straightforward application process. The review period after that tends to take several weeks. That timeline, however, depends mainly on your availability for an in-person appointment and your proximity to a TSA PreCheck enrollment center.
Apply for TSA PreCheck
You can begin an online application at the TSA.gov/PreCheck. After entering some identifying information, you'll verify that you're eligible for the program by answering several questions about your citizenship, residency and any criminal records.
Completing an online application may be an ideal way to start getting TSA PreCheck, as the application sets you up nicely for the vital next step: the in-person appointment.
Schedule an appointment to visit an enrollment center
As you complete an online application, you can schedule an in-person appointment. You can choose the enrollment center you're able to visit and one of the available times.
At your appointment, a professional will verify the physical copies of your documents and take your fingerprints. This completes the application process and begins the application review period.
You can also apply for TSA PreCheck in person at an enrollment center. However, by walking in without an appointment, you'll likely have to wait to be seen. Scheduled appointments are prioritized over walk-ins. Whether you schedule your visit or walk in, specific documentation will need to be presented in person.
Bring the correct documentation to your appointment
You'll choose the documents you plan to bring when completing an online application. At the time of writing, the TSA requires either one document from List A or two documents from List B at your in-person appointment for TSA PreCheck:
- List A: passport book or card, permanent resident card, U.S. driver's license or state-issued ID
- List B: U.S. Military ID, U.S. birth certificate, U.S. certificate of naturalization, driver's license, state-issued ID or expired passport (within 12 months of expiration)
You will have to provide original or certified copies of documents unless the TSA requirements state otherwise.
How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck?
The online application for TSA PreCheck can be completed quickly, but the timing of your in-person appointment can vary. It depends on your availability and the availability at your preferred TSA PreCheck enrollment center. These appointments are usually brief. You present your documents, submit to a background check and have your fingerprints taken. After that, most applicants receive a status update in 3 to 5 days, though some reviews can take up to 60 days.
When you apply online, you may be able to request ongoing updates on your enrollment status by email, phone or an online portal.
Can I get TSA PreCheck for free?
Although TSA PreCheck is not free, some travel credit cards will reimburse you with a statement credit for the application fee. Contact your credit card company or check your card's terms to see if this benefit is available to you. One such card that offers a statement credit for the TSA PreCheck application fee is Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
The application fee is nonrefundable and covers the costs of background checks and fingerprinting. Accepted payment methods include credit cards, debit cards, money orders, company checks and cashier's checks.
Additional ways to get TSA PreCheck
Before applying for TSA PreCheck, consider similar trusted traveler programs:
- Global Entry: Travelers with a Global Entry membership can use expedited screening lanes when entering U.S. Customs and Border Protection. TSA PreCheck is also included in Global Entry membership.
- NEXUS or SENTRI: Similar to Global Entry, travelers who are enrolled in either of these programs are also enrolled in TSA PreCheck.
Although membership to these other programs can get you TSA PreCheck, each program has different eligibility requirements and enrollment processes. Review these points carefully when considering which program is right for you.
A program that can save you time at the airport like TSA PreCheck might reduce the stress of your airport security experience. The online application is a good, straightforward way to apply, and you can also walk in to an enrollment center. However, scheduled appointments are prioritized ahead of walk-ins.
Eventually, you'll have to attend a brief in-person appointment and bring certain forms of ID. If you're application is approved, you can start adding TSA PreCheck to your flight tickets and experience added convenience at the airport.
Although the TSA PreCheck application fee is nonrefundable, many travel credit cards reimburse it, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.