In the world of customs and border protection, you may find some of the terminology unclear. For example, you may have heard of redress numbers vs. Known Traveler Numbers (KTN) in the context of airport security. But what do those terms mean and what are the differences?
What is a redress number?
Much like other travel identification numbers assigned by the government, a redress number is designed to expedite the border security process.
Redress numbers are issued by the Department of Homeland Security to individuals who have previously experienced difficulties during screening at transportation hubs such as airports. These difficulties may include watch list issues, screening problems at ports of entry and situations where a traveler believes they have been unfairly or incorrectly delayed, identified for additional screening or denied boarding.
If you do think you're eligible for a redress number, you can apply online through the Department of Homeland Security's website. After submitting your application, it will become subject to approval, which can take up to 50 business days.
Upon approval, you will receive your redress number, which you'll be able to use when traveling. This should help you avoid difficulties at security screenings going forward.
Note that if your security issues relate to a criminal record or an instance of excessive intoxication, you will likely not be eligible for a redress number.
What is a Known Traveler Number?
Separate from a redress number, a Known Traveler Number is issued to people who apply to and are approved for TSA PreCheck®, the program that allows approved travelers to access expedited security lines for domestic travel in the United States.
Additionally, while the terminology is slightly different, a similar identification number is issued to those who apply to and are approved for Global Entry, NEXUS and SENTRI, programs that allow for expedited access into the United States via air, land or sea. In this case, you'll be issued a PASSID number, which is entered in the same place as the Known Traveler Number when booking air travel.
Like a redress number, a Known Traveler Number is also issued by the Department of Homeland Security, and recipients must go through an application and screening process to be approved. This then grants entry to the TSA PreCheck line, which allows travelers to go through airport security without removing liquids, laptops, shoes, belts or light outerwear.
Redress number vs. KTN: Differences and benefits
The main differences between a redress number and a Known Traveler Number are the circumstances in which it's issued and used.
A redress number relieves part of the stress of traveling by making it less likely you will be targeted for additional screening, or delayed or denied boarding or entry. Ultimately, the goal of a redress number is to create a smoother traveling experience for those who have had difficulties with security in the past. It works to correct the potential misidentification of travelers as high risk, thus complicating their experience through security.
By contrast, a Known Traveler Number allows travelers to access specially approved security lines and screening processes designed to expedite their wait time. Additionally, unless you are an active member of the military, you pay for this perk. TSA PreCheck costs $78 as of April 2023 for a five-year membership. This fee is subject to change, so be sure to check the TSA PreCheck website for the most up-to-date cost. A redress number, on the other hand, is free.
If comparing a redress number vs. a Known Traveler Number, you'll find the “why" behind the two numbers the biggest difference. Redress numbers are intended to correct misidentifications that may lead to security issues for certain travelers, while a Known Traveler Number is a travel perk you can pay for. Ultimately, their goal is the same — to help make your travel a little bit smoother.