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The TSA Pre-Check Guide: Everything You Need to Know

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If you fly frequently, you’re most likely familiar with (and probably dread) long security lines at the airport. If you’re looking for a way to breeze through those lines, or bypass them all together, consider joining the over 2 million Americans who participate in the TSA Pre-Check program. Contradictory to what you may think, TSA Pre-Check isn’t just reserved for the rich and famous or those who fly every week. Practically anyone can apply and start reaping the benefits. Find out everything you need to know below.

TSA Pre-Check FAQs

What is TSA Pre-Check?

TSA Pre-Check is a program that allows pre-qualified, low-risk travelers (and their children under 12) to expedite their security screening process at the airport. Pre-Check is available for travel within the United States and for most international trips. There are currently 180+ airports and 18 airlines that participate.

What are the benefits of TSA Pre-Check?

TSA Pre-Check allows you to breeze through airport security, oftentimes using a dedicated lane. When going through security, you won’t have to remove liquids or your electronics from your bag. You can also keep your shoes, jacket and belt on when being screened.

How much does TSA Pre-Check cost?

Your TSA Pre-Check membership will cost you $85 for 5 years. If you apply for Global Entry (a similar program offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for expedited entry into the U.S.) at the same time, the fee will be $100 and includes both programs. Fees can be paid by money order, credit card, company check or cashier’s check. All fees are nonrefundable even if you are not approved, so be sure to read the requirements carefully before applying.

Who qualifies for TSA Pre-Check?

Previously, TSA Pre-Check was only available to frequent flyers on certain airlines; however, membership has since been opened up to the general public. In order to apply for TSA Pre-Check, you must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. There is no age restriction to apply but remember that your children under 12 traveling with you can use your membership. You will not be eligible for approval if you have certain criminal offenses, provide false information or have previously violated customs or immigration laws.

Should I get TSA Pre-Check?

Most people who have TSA Pre-Check will tell you that it’s definitely worth the fee. Even if you only travel twice a year (round-trip), you’re only paying about $4 per flight for the perk.

How do I apply for TSA Pre-Check?

Applying for Pre-Check is fairly simple. First, you submit your application online and pay the application fee. TSA response time is usually quick and when they respond, you’ll be asked to set up an in-person interview at a TSA Pre-Check enrollment center. During your interview, you’ll provide a few forms of ID and answer a couple of questions. You’ll also go through a background check and be fingerprinted. If approved, usually within 5 business days of the in-person interview, you’ll receive your “Known Traveler Number” (KTN) which you’ll use when booking future air travel. When using that number, your boarding passes will have “TSA Pre-Check” written on them and you’ll be eligible for expedited screening.

Do you have TSA Pre-Check? How has it made your travel easier?

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