A Guide to TSA PreCheck for Military Members

Almost any service member with a DoD ID card can get TSA PreCheck for free. Military spouses must apply separately.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Edited by Meg Lee

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Are you in the military — or do you know someone who is? Do them a favor and tell them to sign up for TSA PreCheck, the trusted-traveler program that helps you move quickly through the airport.

Popular with many travelers, TSA PreCheck gives military members additional benefits. Let’s take a look at what they are, how TSA PreCheck works for military spouses, dependents and family members, and how to enroll in the program.

TSA PreCheck for military members

Perhaps the first question you should be asking is: “Is TSA PreCheck free for military members?” The short answer is, yes, service members do have the ability to participate in TSA PreCheck for free.

This is true for a variety of military members — free TSA PreCheck isn’t limited to those on active duty. Nearly anyone who holds a Department of Defense ID card is eligible for this benefit, including:

  • Active duty service members.

  • Reservists.

  • Members of the National Guard.

  • Cadets and midshipmen of the Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, Naval Academy and Coast Guard Academy.

  • DoD federal civilians, though they must opt in via MilConnect before using their Known Traveler Number.

Be aware that even if veterans have previously used TSA PreCheck as a service member, they are no longer eligible for this benefit once they’ve left the armed forces.

TSA PreCheck military spouse

Do military spouses get TSA PreCheck? Unfortunately, military spouses do not receive a TSA PreCheck benefit because their partner is in the armed forces.

How about other family members — do military dependents get TSA Precheck?

The answer is the same as for spouses, though there are exceptions for those 12 and under. TSA PreCheck for military dependents includes benefits for these younger children, as long as they’re traveling with the service member. In this case, the child will be able to use TSA PreCheck’s expedited screening as well.

Dependents aged 13-17 can also use expedited screening with their military parent/guardian, but the TSA PreCheck indicator must appear on their boarding pass.

So how else do you get TSA PreCheck as a military dependent? Well, you can sign up for it the same way as everyone else — by applying for the program and paying the $78 application fee.

For dependents who’d also like to get free TSA PreCheck, there are many different credit cards that will reimburse the fee to apply. Once you’ve been approved for TSA PreCheck, it’s valid for five years. After that, you’ll need to renew and pay the application fee once again.

Military members do not need to enroll

As a service member, you don’t actually need to enroll in TSA PreCheck. Instead, you’ll simply need the 10-digit DoD ID number located on the back of your common access card. When booking a flight, enter this number as your Known Traveler Number in order to receive TSA PreCheck benefits at the airport.

How to get TSA PreCheck if you’re ineligible as a military member

If you’re not eligible for expedited screening as a military member, you’ll need to enroll separately into the TSA PreCheck program. In order to do so, you can fill out an application form online. Once completed, you can make an appointment to complete the registration in person. As we mentioned above, you’ll need to pay the $78 fee in order to enroll.

After arriving at your appointment, you’ll receive a background check. You’ll also be fingerprinted. You can then begin using your Known Traveler Number for expedited screening.

» Learn more: TSA PreCheck vs. Clear

Global Entry military benefits

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows travelers expedited access through immigration when entering the U.S. Membership allows you to skip the line for immigration and instead use a Global Entry kiosk whenever you arrive from an international flight, thus saving you a lot of time.

Global Entry for military members isn’t an automatic benefit; your Known Traveler Number doesn’t help here. However, it is still possible to apply for and receive Global Entry benefits if you’re a member of the military.

To do so, you’ll need to complete an application for Global Entry online. The questionnaire is thorough, and will include information such as countries to which you’ve traveled. Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll need to pay a $100 fee and wait for CBP to finish its review. Keep in mind that those same credit cards mentioned above will also cover the application fee for Global Entry.

After the application has been conditionally approved, you’ll need to complete an in-person interview. Be sure to bring your passport and another form of ID.

🤓Nerdy Tip

If you’re considering applying for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, you may want to opt for the latter, as Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck. Rather than applying for both programs individually, you can pay the single $100 fee and receive expedited access everywhere in the airport.

There's no reason not to enroll in TSA PreCheck if you’re in the military

There are many sacrifices associated with being in the military, but slogging through the airport doesn’t have to be one of them. As a service member with a DoD ID, you’re eligible for expedited airport security without needing to complete any additional paperwork (or pay any fees).

However, unless you have a child under 17 years old, TSA PreCheck for military family members isn’t automatic. Instead, dependents will need to apply for and enroll in the program like everyone else. Using a credit card that reimburses those application fees can be a smart money move.

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