How to Get TSA PreCheck

Get TSA PreCheck by completing a short application and a quick in-person appointment.
Elina Geller
Paul Rubio
By Paul Rubio and  Elina Geller 
Updated
Edited by Meghan Coyle

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If you’re thinking about getting TSA PreCheck, you’re not alone — especially because travel seems to be returning to pre-pandemic levels and security lines at airports seem longer than ever. Passengers who have TSA PreCheck often breeze through security much faster than those who don't. In February 2023, 90% of TSA PreCheck passengers waited less than five minutes to pass through airport security, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

Such speediness is due to dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes at over 200 U.S. airports, where PreCheck travelers are spared the removal of shoes, belts, light jackets, laptops and 3-1-1 liquids from their bags.

Suffice to say, applying for TSA PreCheck can help save a lot of time and hassle at airport security. Here is everything you need to know before getting TSA PreCheck.

How to apply for TSA PreCheck

It should take you less than five minutes to preenroll online and schedule an in-person TSA PreCheck appointment at one of the 500-plus enrollment centers.

Before applying for TSA PreCheck, make sure you are eligible. The program is open to U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and lawful permanent residents, void of criminal records. Enrollees will undergo criminal history vetting as a condition for program approval.

Children 12 and younger do not need a PreCheck number because they are allowed to join a parent or guardian in the dedicated TSA PreCheck lanes at the airport. Children ages 13-17 may accompany their parent or guardian as well, but they must have the TSA PreCheck indicator on their boarding pass.

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1. Start your online application for TSA PreCheck

Go to the TSA website and click on the icon that says “Apply Now.” This will redirect you to the TSA’s Universal Enroll website and the official application for TSA PreCheck.

The online application takes about five minutes and is broken down into four steps.

Enter information such as name, gender, date of birth, email address and phone number in the first step.

Continue by confirming your identity and providing information concerning physical attributes such as:

  • Hair color.

  • Eye color.

  • Height.

  • Weight.

2. Confirm your eligibility for the program

In the second step, confirm your eligibility for the program with a series of “Yes” or “No” questions, including verification of citizenship or residency and questions about any criminal records.

3. List which documents you will bring to your TSA PreCheck appointment

In the third step, list the photo identification and the citizenship/immigration document you will bring to your appointment. An example of the former would be a U.S. driver’s license; examples of the latter include a passport or official birth certificate.

4. Select a TSA PreCheck enrollment center, and schedule your appointment

In the fourth and final step, choose an enrollment center (from the more than 500 across the country) for your in-person meeting. Based on your ZIP code, the application website will populate centers closest to your address. Once you have selected a center, you can see the next available appointment time and schedule it. You also can go to the enrollment center as a walk-in, but note that those with appointments have priority.

The TSA PreCheck appointment

Here’s what to expect during your 10-minute appointment for TSA PreCheck.

Be sure to arrive with the documents listed in your online application. Typically, this will be one photo identification and one citizenship/immigration document. Note that your legal name must match exactly on all of the identification documents brought to enrollment.

Don’t expect a lengthy sit-down interview. The term “interview” is no longer used by the TSA. Instead, it’s an in-person appointment. During this appointment, you will:

  • Hand over your documents for review.

  • Go through a background check (and possibly verify some of the information you provided).

  • Have your fingerprints taken.

TSA PreCheck payment

You will pay a nonrefundable $78 fee at your TSA PreCheck appointment. You can pay by credit card, money order or company check or with a certified/cashier’s check.

Several cards also offer statement credits for the application fee. Pay the expense with one of the following cards and you can expect a refund in the form of a statement credit in a few weeks, essentially waiving the application fee. Here are some of the cards that offer fee credits for TSA PreCheck:

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Bank of America's website

Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
NerdWallet Rating
Annual fee

$95.

$0 intro for the first year, then $95.

$550.

$95.

Benefit

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to the card. Available once every 4 years.

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS to the card. Available once every 4 years.

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS to the card. Available once every 4 years.

Statement credit of up to $100 as reimbursement when you charge the application fee for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry to the card. Available once every 4 years.

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How long does it take to get TSA PreCheck?

The process will depend on the availability of appointments at your nearest airport and how quickly you can schedule a TSA interview.

After the interview, you will typically receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) by email in about three to five days, but certain applications can take up to 60 days. Your TSA PreCheck membership will be valid for five years. Note that approval for TSA PreCheck is not guaranteed. Applicants can be denied based on disqualifying criminal offenses, and rejected applicants will not be refunded the $78 fee.

🤓Nerdy Tip

The TSA advises PreCheck members to renew at least 60 days before the expiration date.

Once you have your KTN, you must add it to your existing flight reservations and airline loyalty program profiles before check-in. This will allow the TSA PreCheck icon to populate on your digital or printed boarding pass.

Other ways to get TSA PreCheck

Several other government programs offer TSA PreCheck without going through this application process, though you will generally be required to undergo another application process for a federal trusted travelers program.

Global Entry. All travelers approved for Global Entry are automatically approved for TSA PreCheck. No need to complete both applications. Your PASS ID on the back of your Global Entry card is also your KTN.

Nexus and Sentri. U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and foreign nationals approved for Nexus or Sentri are also automatically enrolled in TSA PreCheck. Similar to Global Entry, your PASS ID serves as your KTN.

Military personnel. If you are an active member of the armed forces, you can get TSA PreCheck benefits by entering the Department of Defense identification number from your common access card as the KTN. This benefit extends to Reserves, National Guard and midshipmen and cadets attending a military academy.

Final thoughts on getting TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is a valuable time-saving tool that can make the airport experience far less stressful. If you’re interested in the program — and don’t already have it through another government program — follow our step-by-step guide to apply and acquire TSA PreCheck. It’s a short application and a short appointment that yields excellent long-term benefits.


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