One of the worst parts about flying is fighting fellow fliers at the airport. From long lines, impromptu delays, and other fun surprises, it can be tough to know how long it’ll take you to even get through security. Luckily, TSA has a few options to make getting through the airport a little better.
TSA offers upgrade packages under an umbrella of Trusted Traveler Programs. These PreCheck programs specifically help with expedited lanes during airport security to get you through screening faster. All of the programs except one, Free and Secure Trade (FAST), may give you unique identifier to use (like a frequent flier miles number) called a known traveler number or KTN.
What is a Known Traveler Number?
A known traveler number is your membership number to one of the TSA’s Trusted Traveler Programs. Instead of standing in line with your shoes off single file, enter a world of special access with expedited screening through TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Not every KTN is created equal, and just having one doesn’t green light you access to all Trusted Traveler Programs.
- If you apply only to TSA PreCheck, your KTN gives you PreCheck benefits.
- If you apply to Global Entry, you’ll be given both TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits.
The benefits bundled vary by the program, so read up on the program specifics before applying to make sure you’re getting what you’re looking for. We’d recommend Global Entry for the added Global Entry perks internationally.
How to Get a Known Traveler Number (KTN)
You can get yourself a known traveler number through one of the four following Trusted Traveler Programs:
- TSA Precheck
- Global Entry
Each program has a different application process and different benefits, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for before enrolling.
TSA PreCheck gives you expedited screening when departing from a U.S. airport, a perk that could save you a ton of time in the airport alone. Granted this only works at an airport with PreCheck, there are over 200 airports and 73 airlines across the United States that support PreCheck benefits. With TSA PreCheck, you get a KTN you can use when entering personal information on your flight. TSA PreCheck costs $85 for five years of benefits.
Read more in our article all about it.
Global Entry offers expedited lanes for entry into the United States from an international destination by land, air, or sea. With Global Entry, you’re automatically enrolled in TSA PreCheck and receive a KTN. Global Entry lasts for five years and costs $100.
NEXUS is a program offering expedited screening when entering the United States from Canada by land, air, or sea. Similar to Global Entry, you can be enrolled in TSA PreCheck and receive a KTN with NEXUS. NEXUS membership is $50 and lasts five years.
SENTRI provides members expedited screening when entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico by land or air. You can be enrolled in TSA PreCheck with SENTRI and receive a KTN. The SENTRI application fee is $122.50 and lasts for five years.
The Difference Between Your Known Traveler Number and TSA Precheck
It’s easy to get confused between known traveler numbers and TSA PreCheck, but they go hand-in-hand. Your known traveler number is your membership ID for TSA PreCheck. Once you have TSA PreCheck, your KTN is proof of membership and how you can prove your membership to airlines and airports.
The difference is that TSA PreCheck is the program/benefit, while the known traveler number is the membership identification for that program. Makes sense, right?
How to Lookup Your Known Traveler Number
Once you score a known traveler number, looking it up is easy.
If you are a member of Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, you can find your KTN on the back of your membership card. You can also login to the Trusted Traveler Program website and find your PASSID there, which is the same number as your known traveler number.
If you are only a member of TSA PreCheck, you can find your KTN online on the TSA website. Or, you can find the original notification of membership, which will have your known traveler number on it. Typically, this notification comes via U.S. mail.
How to Use Your Known Traveler Number
The easiest way to take advantage of your KTN is to enter the number when you are booking a flight. There is often a box during the booking process asking for your known traveler number. If you do it during the booking process, you’re all set and don’t have to worry about entering your KTN again.
If you do not enter it during the booking process, you may be able to enter the number at a later time. Airlines have different policies regarding time limits on when you can enter your KTN to receive the precheck benefit, however. So, it’s best if you do it during the booking process so that you do not miss the opportunity to use TSA precheck.
Now that you know all about known traveler numbers, it’s time to decide which program is best for you. Travel to Mexico frequently? Consider SENTRI. If you’re a domestic traveler looking to skip the lines, go for TSA precheck. Or, if you’re a world traveler, Global Entry is the program with you. Whichever program you end up choosing, having a KTN will make your airport interactions much easier.