TSA Precheck allows select travelers to quickly move through airport security without having to remove shoes, liquids, belts, laptops and light jackets. You must pay an $85 application fee. Those eligible for the program include U.S. citizens, foreigners who meet certain criteria and those without convictions for certain crimes. More than 7 million travelers have enrolled in TSA Precheck. The average waiting time in security for 93% of those travelers is less than five minutes. Here are more details on the TSA Precheck program, including the benefits, eligibility requirements and how to apply.

The Benefits of TSA Precheck

Airport security lines can cause lengthy delays for many travelers. Those who choose to go through the process of TSA Precheck allow the federal government to thoroughly vet them. If they are deemed low-risk travelers, they may be allowed to enroll in the program. The most obvious benefit is getting separated into a different line and moving fast through security. TSA Precheck travelers do not have to stop and remove their shoes, belts or light jackets. They also do not have to take out and separate their laptops, liquids or gel products from the rest of their baggage for screening. It’s a big benefit for any traveler offered through the U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA). It can especially benefit business and other frequent travelers, as well as disabled passengers. More than 200 airports and 56 airlines in the United States accommodate those enrolled in TSA Precheck, according to the TSA site.

Eligibility Requirements for TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck status is ideal for domestic travel. All U.S. citizens are eligible. So are those born in foreign countries who have become a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S. Foreign travelers and U.S. citizens who frequently travel to other countries will want to look into three “trusted traveler” programs offered through the Department of Homeland Security before applying for TSA Precheck. They are:
  • Global Entry. Ideal for those arriving in the United States from international destinations.
  • NEXUS. Ideal for those who frequently travel between the U.S. and Canada
  • SENTRI. Ideal for those who frequently travel by ground vehicle or walking between the U.S. and Mexico
In the case of Global Entry and NEXUS, enrollment in TSA precheck is one of the benefits once you are approved for the program.

Disqualifying Criminal Offenses

The TSA provides a long list of criminal convictions that permanently disqualify passengers from eligibility for TSA Precheck. They include espionage, sedition, treason, crimes of terrorism, improper transportation of hazardous materials and unlawful possession of explosives. Other crimes can disqualify travelers if they were convicted, pled guilty or found not guilty by reason of insanity within seven years of the date of application. These crimes include unlawful possession of firearms, extortion, bribery, smuggling, immigration violations, arson, kidnapping, and rape. Keep in mind that the TSA can still not approve you for the program if they find something in your criminal history as part of your security threat assessment (such as extensive criminal convictions or long incarceration periods).

How to Apply for TSA Precheck

If you meet the eligibility requirements and do not have disqualifying criminal offenses on your record, then you may apply for TSA Precheck. The process is as follows.
  • Fill out an online application available on the TSA site and submit an $85 application fee ($100 for foreign residents)
  • Some credit card companies and loyalty programs may cover all or part of your TSA Precheck fee.
  • Some airlines also allow those with points or frequent flier miles to use them for TSA Precheck. Such promotions usually are temporary, so check with your individual airline
  • Part of the application is allowing TSA to do a thorough background check on you
  • Applicants then must make an appointment at an enrollment center and meet in person for an assessment. These usually take about 10 minutes
  • To find an enrollment center near you, use this search function from the government
Once approved, you will receive a PASS ID number that can be used when booking flights. Members of the Armed Forces can also use their DOD ID number. The fact you are in TSA Precheck will appear on your boarding pass. TSA Precheck offers great benefits for those who are eligible, which is why more than 7 million have entered the program. If you think it can improve your travel experience, it’s well worth your consideration if you are eligible.
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