How TSA PreCheck’s Interview Process Works

The interview is typically quite brief. Just fill out the online application beforehand and bring your ID.
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Written by Anya Kartashova

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Airport lines, am I right? No one enjoys the never-ending, snake-like queues of cranky travelers lining up for security checks, a much-needed coffee or a bathroom near a gate where a plane just landed.

Although there’s nothing you can do about hot brew fanatics or those calls of nature, there’s one thing you can do to avoid the security line moving at the speed of a snail: Enroll in TSA PreCheck.

Do you need to interview for TSA PreCheck? Yes. After filling out an application, your membership is contingent on passing the TSA PreCheck interview, which is actually more like an appointment. While the process may seem intimidating, we’re here to give you the information you need to improve the odds of a smooth experience.

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What to expect at the TSA PreCheck interview

The TSA PreCheck website will help you find the closest enrollment center. Once you get there, the TSA PreCheck interview isn’t so much an interview but rather an appointment. Here's how it will go.

You must provide correct documentation

Make sure to bring a photo ID. A driver’s license, a passport or a military ID card, among other forms, are accepted.

Additionally, you’ll need a citizenship document, such as a passport, a birth certificate or a certificate of naturalization. If your name has changed, a marriage certificate might be required.

You’ll be fingerprinted and (potentially) asked a few questions

Once you meet face to face with a person, you’ll get your fingerprints taken for a background check. They might or might not ask you some questions mentioned in the application, such as whether you’ve used other names before, how often you travel and why you want to enroll in the program. If you have a criminal history, it’s possible you’ll be asked to provide details.

Example TSA PreCheck interview questions include:

  • Are you a U.S. citizen, U.S. national or lawful permanent resident?

  • Are you wanted or under indictment for any disqualifying crimes?

  • Have you been released from incarceration in any jurisdiction, military or civilian, for committing a disqualifying felony during the five years before the date of this application?

All in all, the process is pretty painless and is closely attuned to the application form that you’ve already filled out.

You have to pay the TSA membership fee

The TSA PreCheck interview is also when you pay for your application. Credit cards, debit cards, money orders, company checks or cashier’s checks are accepted. A number of popular travel credit cards reimburse the enrollment fee, so if you have one of these cards, make sure to use it when paying. Among cards offering reimbursement:

Cards with airport security benefits
Chase United Airlines Mileage Plus Credit Card
United℠ Explorer Card
NerdWallet Rating
Apply now

on Chase's website

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

on Chase's website

Annual fee

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

$95.

$550.

Benefit

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.

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.

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If your credit card offers reimbursement for the application fee for programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you must pay the fee with the card. You cannot submit a claim for reimbursement if you paid with some other method. Reimbursement will usually appear as a statement credit in your account within two months.

Cards typically offer reimbursement of only one fee once every four to five years. Check the terms and conditions of your card for the specific rules that apply. Note also that these cards only reimburse the application fee for a trusted traveler program. They don't automatically enroll you in the program or guarantee that you'll be accepted by the program. You still have to apply and go through the required screening, which in the case of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry includes an in-person appointment.

You can dress casually

Generally, an interview calls for you to wear professional attire. That said, a TSA PreCheck interview is pretty informal, so you can likely get away with dressing casually. Still, we recommend you leave the pajamas at home.

You might spend more time in line than being interviewed

All in all, the actual TSA PreCheck interview typically takes 10 minutes or less. However, you may end up spending more time at your appointment if the lines are long at the enrollment center.

If you’re approved, you should receive your Known Traveler Number within three to five days after the TSA PreCheck interview.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck and offers “Enrollment on Arrival.” This allows you to have an ad hoc interview after reentering the United States, saving you an extra airport trip for the appointment.

What else you need to know about TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck program basics

TSA PreCheck is a trusted traveler program run by the Transportation Security Administration that allows you to go through a dedicated security line at more than 200 U.S. airports.

In this line, you can keep your shoes, belts and light jackets on and leave your liquids and laptop in the bag. Because of the speedy process, the TSA PreCheck queue is usually shorter than a standard security screening line. In most cases, you’ll get through in less than five minutes.

More than 80 U.S. and international airlines participate in the program. Once you’re approved and receive a KTN, just include it with your traveler information and save time waiting in line at the airport.

How to enroll in TSA PreCheck

To enroll in the program, you must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a lawful permanent resident. Enrollment costs $78 through Idemia, $85 through Telos or $68.95 through Clear and lasts five years, after which you must apply for renewal and pay a renewal fee of $70 online, $78 in person (Idemia and Telos), or $68.95 online, $77.95 in person if you applied through Clear.

Other trusted traveler programs, such as Global Entry, Nexus and Sentri, include TSA PreCheck membership without needing to enroll separately.

To enroll in the program, visit the TSA PreCheck application website and fill out the online form. Make sure your legal name appears exactly as it does on your ID. You’ll then be presented with a list of enrollment centers and available dates and times for an in-person appointment.

You also can apply in person at an enrollment center near you.

Note that you must have a “clean” record to enroll in TSA PreCheck, and the program does perform a background check for all applicants. So, if you’re wanted by Interpol or you're on the terrorist watchlist, your application will likely be disqualified.

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» Learn more: TSA PreCheck vs. Clear

How to enroll my children in TSA PreCheck

Kids 12 and younger can join you in the TSA PreCheck line without applying for their own membership as long as your boarding pass indicates your membership. It’s worth mentioning that young kids under 12 already can leave their shoes, jackets and headwear on while going through the standard security screening.

Children who are 13 to 17 years old can join you as well, but the TSA PreCheck indicator must appear on their boarding pass, otherwise, they will need to go through standard security.

If you’re waiting for your TSA PreCheck interview

There’s nothing you have to do ahead of time except fill out an application and ensure you have the right identification documents. When you have your appointment, just show up at the enrollment center at the specified time, take your fingerprints and possibly answer a few questions. That’s it.

The next time you’re at a U.S. airport, you can keep your shoes on and your socks clean, and you can even do it for free if you use the right travel card.


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