If you signed up for TSA Precheck expecting a speedy security experience at the airport, you may be wondering why it’s taking so long for your application to be approved. TSA Precheck can significantly cut down on wait times at airport security, allowing you to keep your shoes, belt, and light jacket on while avoiding lengthy lines.
But lately, many applicants are reporting much longer than usual delays before getting their Known Traveler Number (KTN). If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: TSA Precheck applications are currently taking 12-14 weeks for approval due to high application volumes and background check delays.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at why TSA Precheck applications are delayed, what’s causing the current backlog, and when you can expect to receive your KTN.
TSA Precheck Application Process
Before applying for TSA Precheck, it’s important to ensure that you meet the enrollment requirements. To be eligible for this expedited screening program, you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or Lawful Permanent Resident.
Additionally, you must not have any disqualifying criminal offenses on your record and must not have any pending criminal charges. It’s also important to note that TSA Precheck is not available to everyone, as it is a voluntary program that requires an application process.
The TSA Precheck application process is relatively straightforward. To begin, you will need to complete an online application through the TSA Precheck website. This application will require you to provide personal information such as your full name, date of birth, and contact details.
You will also need to answer questions related to your citizenship and immigration status. Once you have completed the application, you will be prompted to pay the non-refundable application fee, which is currently $85 for a five-year membership.
After submitting your application and payment, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will conduct a thorough background check. This check involves verifying your identity, reviewing any criminal records, and cross-checking your information against various government databases.
The background check is an essential part of the TSA Precheck application process to ensure the safety and security of all travelers.
Interview (if needed)
In some cases, applicants may be required to attend an in-person interview as part of the application process. The TSA Precheck interview is a brief meeting with a TSA representative who will ask you questions to further verify your identity and assess your eligibility for the program.
The interview is typically conducted at a designated TSA enrollment center and can be scheduled online after completing the initial application. It’s important to note that not all applicants will be required to attend an interview.
Once your application, background check, and interview (if applicable) have been completed and approved, you will be assigned a Known Traveler Number (KTN). This unique identifier is associated with your TSA Precheck membership and is used to ensure that you receive expedited screening benefits at participating airports.
You can typically find your KTN on your TSA Precheck approval notification or by logging into your TSA Precheck account online.
For more information on the TSA Precheck application process and to apply, visit the official TSA Precheck website.
What’s Causing the Delays?
There are several factors that can contribute to the delays in the TSA Precheck application process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the main reasons:
Huge spike in applications
The TSA Precheck program has gained immense popularity in recent years, with more and more travelers opting for expedited screening at airports. This surge in demand has resulted in a significant increase in the number of applications being submitted to the TSA.
The agency has been working tirelessly to keep up with the volume, but the sheer number of applications can cause delays in processing.
Another factor contributing to the delays is the shortage of staff at TSA Precheck enrollment centers. These centers are responsible for collecting biometric information, such as fingerprints, and conducting background checks on applicants.
Limited resources and staffing shortages can slow down the process and lead to longer wait times for applicants.
Backlog in fingerprint processing
Once an applicant’s fingerprint information is collected, it needs to be processed and verified by the appropriate authorities. However, due to the high volume of applications, there can be a backlog in fingerprint processing.
This backlog can cause delays in the overall application process and result in longer wait times for TSA Precheck approval.
Delayed background checks
The TSA conducts thorough background checks on all applicants to ensure they meet the eligibility criteria for the program. These checks involve verifying criminal records, immigration status, and other relevant information.
However, the extensive nature of these background checks can sometimes lead to delays in the approval process, especially if there are discrepancies or complex issues that require further investigation.
It’s important to note that the TSA is continuously working to improve the efficiency of the application process and reduce wait times for applicants. They have implemented measures such as expanding enrollment center locations, increasing staffing levels, and streamlining the fingerprint processing system.
Despite these efforts, occasional delays may still occur due to the aforementioned factors.
How Long Are TSA Precheck Delays Right Now?
If you are wondering why your TSA Precheck application is taking longer than expected, you are not alone. Many applicants have experienced delays in the processing of their applications. To understand the current situation, let’s take a closer look at the processing times, anecdotal reports from applicants, the difference between priority and standard processing, and the timelines for Global Entry versus TSA Precheck.
Current stated processing times
According to the official TSA website, the current stated processing time for TSA Precheck applications is approximately 2-3 weeks. However, it is important to note that these times are subject to change and may vary depending on the volume of applications received.
It is always a good idea to check the official TSA website for the most up-to-date information regarding processing times.
Anecdotal reports from applicants
While the official processing times provide a general idea of how long it may take to receive your TSA Precheck approval, anecdotal reports from applicants suggest that the actual processing times can sometimes be longer.
Some applicants have reported waiting for several weeks or even months before receiving their approval. These delays can be frustrating, especially for those who have planned their travel around the expectation of expedited security screening.
Priority vs standard processing
One factor that can influence the processing time of your TSA Precheck application is whether you have opted for priority processing. For an additional fee, you can choose to expedite your application, which may result in a faster approval time.
However, it is important to note that even with priority processing, there is no guarantee of an exact timeline, as the processing times can still vary.
Global Entry vs TSA Precheck timelines
If you are considering applying for both Global Entry and TSA Precheck, it is important to note that the processing times for these programs can differ. While TSA Precheck applications typically take 2-3 weeks to process, Global Entry applications can take longer, with some applicants reporting wait times of several months.
It’s worth considering this difference in timelines when deciding which program to apply for, especially if you have an upcoming trip planned.
Tips for Speeding Up Your Application
Double check your application
One reason your TSA Precheck application may be taking longer than expected is due to errors or omissions in your application. It’s important to double check all the information you provided to ensure accuracy.
Make sure you have included all the necessary documents and filled out the application form correctly. Even a small mistake can cause delays in the processing time. Take the time to review your application before submitting it to avoid any unnecessary delays.
Pay for priority service
If you’re in a hurry to get your TSA Precheck approval, consider paying for priority service. Some application centers offer expedited processing for an additional fee. This can significantly reduce the wait time and get you through the application process faster.
While this may require an extra investment, it can be worth it if you have urgent travel plans and need your TSA Precheck approval as soon as possible.
Check application status frequently
Stay proactive by regularly checking the status of your TSA Precheck application. The TSA website has a dedicated page where you can track the progress of your application. By doing so, you can stay informed about any updates or additional information needed.
If there are any delays or issues with your application, you can address them promptly to expedite the process. Checking your application status frequently will help you stay on top of any necessary actions needed to speed up the approval process.
Contact the TSA with urgent travel
If you have urgent travel plans and your TSA Precheck application is taking longer than anticipated, it is recommended to contact the TSA directly. They have a dedicated customer service line that can assist you with any urgent matters or concerns.
By explaining your situation and providing proof of your travel plans, they may be able to prioritize your application and expedite the process. Remember to be polite and patient when contacting the TSA as they are there to help you.
When Will TSA Precheck Delays Improve?
If you’ve been frustrated by long wait times for TSA Precheck, you’re not alone. Fortunately, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is taking steps to address this issue and improve the overall efficiency of the program.
Here are some of the strategies they are implementing to reduce delays:
TSA plans to hire more staff
The TSA recognizes the need for additional personnel to handle the increasing demand for TSA Precheck. To address this, they have plans to hire more staff members who will be dedicated to processing Precheck applicants.
By increasing the number of trained personnel, the TSA aims to streamline the process and reduce wait times for travelers.
Increased contractor support
In addition to hiring more staff, the TSA is also working on increasing contractor support. These contractors will assist with various tasks, such as document verification and passenger screening, to help expedite the Precheck process.
By leveraging the expertise of contractors, the TSA can improve overall efficiency and reduce delays.
New processing facilities coming online
The TSA is actively working on expanding their processing facilities to accommodate the growing number of Precheck applicants. These new facilities will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology and streamlined processes to enhance the efficiency of the screening process.
As these new facilities come online, travelers can expect shorter wait times and a smoother experience.
Projected timelines for improvements
While exact timelines can vary depending on various factors, the TSA is projecting that improvements to the Precheck delays will be seen within the next year. As the agency continues to implement these strategies and make necessary adjustments, the goal is to significantly reduce wait times and provide a more seamless experience for travelers.
For the latest updates on TSA Precheck delays and improvements, it is recommended to visit the official TSA Precheck website. This website provides valuable information and resources to help travelers stay informed and make the most of their TSA Precheck experience.
TSA Precheck is currently taking much longer than the previous 3-5 week timeline for approval. Extensive backlogs due to application spikes and lack of staffing have slowed the process considerably. If you applied recently, expect a wait time of at least 12 weeks unless you paid the extra $85 fee for priority service.
The TSA is working to improve timelines by hiring staff, increasing contractor support, and adding new processing centers. But in the short term, you’ll need to pack your patience along with your toiletries when heading to the airport.