How TSA PreCheck’s Interview Process Works
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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.
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.
» Learn more: How to get TSA PreCheck with your spouse
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. If you have a travel credit card that reimburses the enrollment fee, make sure to use it when paying (more on this below).
If you’re approved, you should receive your Known Traveler Number within three to five days after the TSA PreCheck interview.
» Learn more: How to add TSA PreCheck to your airline ticket
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.
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 and lasts five years, after which you must apply for renewal and pay a renewal fee of $70 online or $78 in person.
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.
» 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 have to enroll in the trusted traveler program to be able to join you in the expedited line.
How to get the TSA PreCheck enrollment fee reimbursed
Some travel cards reimburse the TSA PreCheck enrollment fee as a statement credit. If you already have TSA PreCheck, you can use your card’s perk to enroll one of your friends or family members in the program, but you have to join them at their in-person appointment.
Swipe one of the following cards at the enrollment center to get $78 back:
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card. Terms apply.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Terms apply.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. Terms apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express. Terms apply.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
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.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card