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TSA PreCheck interview: How it works

TSA PreCheck® is what's known as a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP), you could say that the TSA grants membership only to applicants they find as “trustworthy." In turn, members are granted certain benefits at airport security screenings in the United States. With TSA PreCheck, you can keep on certain clothing, leave certain items in carry-on bags, and you'll often wait in shorter airport security lines. 

Airport security is a serious part of air travel, and the TSA vets each TSA PreCheck applicant. To become a member, you'll have to apply, have your fingerprints taken, submit to a background check and attend an in-person appointment. Ahead, we'll detail exactly what's involved with that appointment.

What do I need for a TSA PreCheck appointment?

First-time applicants will need to bring required documentation and a payment method for the application fee to their TSA PreCheck appointment.

Required documentation

As you complete an application at the TSA website, you can see the documents needed at your appointment. If the TSA requires additional documents, you'll be notified. 

Here's an abbreviated list of documents accepted at your TSA PreCheck appointment. For detailed information, please see the TSA webpage for required documentation

In general, you'll need to bring one document from List A or two documents from List B: 

  • 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'll have to bring original and unexpired copies of documents, unless the TSA requirements state otherwise.

A way to pay the application fee

You won't be able to pay the application fee ahead of your in-person appointment if you're applying for the first time. Payment will be required at the time of your appointment, and credit cards are accepted. 

Some travel credit cards provide a statement credit as reimbursement for the TSA PreCheck application fee. Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of those cards. Cardmembers can receive a statement credit up to $100 every four years for a TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS fee. 

How does a TSA PreCheck interview work? 

The word “interview" may be a misnomer. If you've made it here, your appointment should be straightforward. Appointments are usually brief because the main purpose isn't to interrogate you this far into the process. You'll submit your fingerprints and consent to a background check, then the TSA will continue reviewing your application for enrollment.

Can I walk in for TSA PreCheck interview?

Yes, you can walk in to a TSA PreCheck enrollment center and submit an application. However, scheduled appointments are prioritized. Consider taking the time to complete the online application to save you an unpredictable wait. 

The application online is straightforward. You'll be able to schedule your appointment, and this improves your chance of having a brief in-person appointment. If you walk in to apply for TSA PreCheck, you could wait a long time for an appointment or risk not being seen at all.

What to do while you wait for TSA PreCheck interview

After you schedule an appointment, make sure you've gathered the required documents and a way to pay the application fee. Payment will be due at your appointment if you're applying for TSA PreCheck for the first time. As you wait for a scheduled appointment, you could also double-check that your credentials aren't about to expire. That would be an unpleasant surprise—showing up to your appointment only to realize your ID expired last week!

In conclusion

TSA PreCheck appointments are an important verification step in the enrollment process. If you're considering walking in to an enrollment center, consider scheduling ahead of time. The online application is quite straightforward, and scheduled appointments are prioritized over walk-ins. 

Although appointments tend to be brief, be sure to bring required identification. It should be outlined as you complete the online application, before you schedule your appointment. 

If it's your first time applying, you'll also need to pay the application fee at the time of your appointment. Remember that some credit cards like Chase Sapphire Reserve provide a statement credit up to $100 as reimbursement for the fee to enroll in TSA PreCheck. That's true for other TTPs like Global Entry and NEXUS, as well. To be eligible for the statement credit, you'll have to pay the fee using your Sapphire Reserve card.

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