If you’re tired of standing in a long airport security line and enviously watching all the TSA Precheck people fly through security, then it’s time to become one of those people and make other travelers jealous!
Enrolling in TSA Precheck is a lot simpler and more affordable than you might think. If you’ve never enrolled before, you can get TSA Precheck for five years for just $85. That’s $85 for all five years, not per year.
Here’s how you do it.
The first step is to fill out an application online. The TSA Precheck website says that the online application only takes five minutes. The main things you’ll share are your name and contact information. You’ll also be asked to schedule an appointment at one of the 380 TSA Precheck enrollment centers around the country, and you will pay your $85 membership fee.
When your appointment rolls around, you’ll head to the enrollment center that you selected for a ten-minute, in-person background check interview. The enrollment officer will basically confirm that you are who you say you are. At this appointment you will be fingerprinted.
If you’re approved, that’s it! You’ll be issued a Known Traveler Number which you can add to any domestic airline ticket that you buy. After that, you’ll enjoy all of the perks of TSA Precheck.
What exactly are the perks of TSA Precheck?
The main perk of TSA Precheck is that you get to use the TSA Precheck line when going through airport security in more than 200 airports around the country. (At the moment, 56 airlines provide TSA Precheck.) In addition to the Precheck line being substantially shorter and getting priority over the standard security lines, people with TSA Precheck also get to go through airport security without
- removing their shoes,
- taking their electronics out of their bags,
- taking their liquids out of their bags,
- or removing their belts or light jackets.
According to the TSA, 93% of TSA Precheck members waited less than five minutes when going through airport security in November 2018. Considering that Thanksgiving falls during November, that figure is particularly impressive.
What if I’m traveling internationally?
If you’re traveling from the United States to another country, you can use TSA Precheck in the US airport that you depart from. However, if you travel internationally on a regular basis, you might want to consider also enrolling in Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. These are all programs geared toward international travelers that make it faster to get through customs lines, both in the US and other countries. Here are a few resources to help you learn more about these programs:
- What You Need to Know About Changes to Global Entry and SENTRI
- 8 Things You Need to Know About Global Entry
- Trusted Traveler Programs (official website)
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.