If you're looking for a smoother way through airport security, you may be curious about TSA PreCheck. A program run by the Transportation Security Administration, TSA PreCheck membership provides access to an expedited security line. Learn more about what PreCheck is, how to apply and the TSA PreCheck rules to abide by.
What is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is a membership program that travelers can apply to in order to access an expedited security line and screening process. There are over 200 participating airports throughout the United States.
TSA PreCheck is available to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents. Applicants may be deemed ineligible due to false or incomplete information on their application, violations of certain federal security regulations or disqualifying criminal offenses.
Disqualifying criminal offenses include a wide range of charges, from espionage and treason to extortion, arson and robbery. For a full list of disqualifying criminal offenses, go to the TSA website.
How to apply
To apply for TSA PreCheck, the first step is to complete an application form on the TSA website. A brief questionnaire will confirm your eligibility for the program. If you're eligible, you'll then schedule an in person interview at an enrollment center.
You will be required to bring a number of identifying documents with you to the interview, which the TSA outlines when you apply online. The in-person interview is to help verify your identification documents and process your fingerprints.
The in-person interview is also where you will pay your application fee.
TSA PreCheck currently costs $78 and membership is valid for five years. However, prices are subject to change, so be sure to check the TSA website for the most up-to-date information. If you're looking to have your fee covered, here are some options.
- Credit card benefits: Some travel credit cards offer reimbursement for TSA PreCheck fees as part of their benefits. Check your issuer's terms to learn about potential payment.
- Credit card points: Some airline or hotel rewards cards allow you to cash in your rewards points for TSA PreCheck application reimbursement.
- Military benefits: If you're an active member of the armed forces, you automatically have access to TSA PreCheck through your Department of Defense identification number. Use that in place of a Known Traveler Number (KTN) when booking flights.
How to use TSA PreCheck
Once you're approved for TSA PreCheck, you may have some questions about how to use it.
When you receive confirmation of your approval from TSA, you will also receive your Known Traveler Number. This identification number must be entered when booking flights to gain access to the TSA PreCheck line.
TSA doesn't partner with every airline for TSA PreCheck, so there is the possibility that you will have to use the regular security line if that is the case. However, over 85 airlines do participate, including domestic and international airlines. If your airline takes part, there will be a TSA PreCheck symbol on your boarding pass.
In addition to shorter lines, TSA PreCheck has different rules for going through security. Can you leave your shoes on? Do you have to take your laptop out for TSA PreCheck? Let's explore that below:
The TSA PreCheck security rules are as follows:
- Do not remove shoes
- Leave laptops in bags
- Leave liquids in bags (must still meet 3.4 ounces in a quart-sized bag rule)
- Leave belts on
- Do not remove sweatshirts or light outerwear
FAQs about TSA PreCheck
If you still have questions about TSA PreCheck, below are answers to some frequently asked questions:
- Does my child need PreCheck? Children 12 and under who are traveling with an eligible parent or legal guardian can join them in the PreCheck line without applying. Children between the ages of 13 and 17 who are traveling on the same reservation as an eligible parent or guardian can use TSA PreCheck if they have a TSA PreCheck symbol on their boarding pass. This is not guaranteed.
- Will I receive an ID card with my Known Traveler Number? No, you must keep track of your Known Traveler Number and enter it when making your flight reservations.
- Can I use PreCheck in other countries? You can use TSA PreCheck when you're departing the United States to a foreign country (if the airline allows it). However, TSA PreCheck is not an international program and is not available in other countries' airports.
- How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck? Approval is typically quick, but this isn't guaranteed. It can take up to 60 days for approval, so be sure to apply with plenty of time before your next trip.
- How do I pay the enrollment fee? You can pay the enrollment fee at your in-person interview.
TSA PreCheck can be a useful program for those who travel frequently. Once you're approved, you may have access to shorter lines and other benefits, such as permission to leave your shoes on and your laptop in your bag when you pass through security. Consider these TSA PreCheck rules if you're looking to elevate your travel experience.