Is TSA PreCheck free for Military_

Is TSA PreCheck free for Military?

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Is TSA PreCheck free for Military Members? TSA PreCheck is one of the best travel programs available today. With TSA PreCheck travelers can dramatically reduce their airport security wait times making travel a far more enjoyable experience. In this article we examine the ins and outs of TSA PreCheck for Military Members, their families, veterans and more.

Specifically, we will address:

  • Is TSA PreCheck free for Military?
  • Is TSA PreCheck free for military spouses?
  • Can you use your DoD number for TSA PreCheck?
  • Can I use my military ID for TSA PreCheck?
  • Can military retirees get TSA PreCheck?
  • Do veterans get free TSA PreCheck?
  • Can disabled veterans get TSA PreCheck?
  • I have an existing reservation, can I add TSA PreCheck to it?
  • Is TSA PreCheck free for National Guard Members?
  • Is TSA PreCheck free for Reservists?
  • And more…

BLUF: Members of the military including active duty, reservists, students of service academies and the National Guard are already enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. This is huge! Military members, however, will need to add their KTN, or Known Traveler Number to their travel itineraries before visiting the airport. More on this, below.

To our military readers, thanks for your service. As a former Active Duty Marine Sergeant I have a great deal of respect for each of you. Happy traveling and thanks for what you do.

Be sure to check out our article on Global Entry and the Military here

What is TSA PreCheck and what are the TSA Benefits for the Military

What is TSA PreCheck?

Do you like waiting in lines? Probably not. In fact, as a member of the military you have probably grown tired of waiting. Waiting in the airport security checkpoint line isn’t fun either nor is having to remove your shoes, belt and electronics.

You might be interested in How to get through Airport Security faster!

TSA PreCheck is a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program that pre-approves travelers deemed a low security risk. This special program allows “trusted travelers” access to a special security checkpoint at the airport where you can breeze through security with minimal disruption.

TSA Precheck - a must do for your first business trip

With TSA PreCheck travelers not only get their own private security line (with other PreCheckers) but they don’t have to remove their shoes, jackets, belts or remove any electronics from their luggage. The TSA PreCheck line moves much faster than normal airport security lines and involves far less hassle. Getting TSA PreCheck is a must-have for frequent travelers and definitely not a bad thing to have for casual travelers either.

After completing the application and conducting an in-person interview at an approved TSA interview location, approved travelers will be issued a KTN, or Known Traveler Number. A KTN should be provided when booking flights to get TSA PreCheck added to your boarding pass (and thus giving you access to the TSA PreCheck security line).

Image of a Military CAC Card
Sample Pic of CAC Card with DoD ID Number Circled

As noted in the introduction, members of the military (and those attending service academies) are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. This means that military members already have a KTN. It is the same number as your DoD ID number which is on the back of your CAC card. More on this in a minute.

As a member of the military there’s really no reason not to leverage your TSA PreCheck benefits. We explain how, below.

Is TSA PreCheck free for the Military?

Yes, military members, reservists, students of service academies and the National Guard are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. There is no cost for this. However, travelers must add their Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your Defense Travel System profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

How do I use TSA PreCheck?

Using your TSA PreCheck benefits as a member of the military is incredibly easy, but there are some preparatory steps travelers must take BEFORE arriving at the airport.

If on official travel orders, travelers must add their KTN to their Defense Travel System profile. Ideally this needs to be done before your airline tickets are booked so your KTN is added to your boarding pass. Here is a quick guide from the DoD on how to do this.

If traveling for personal reasons (like going home for leave) travelers must add their KTN to their chosen airline’s profile. For example, if you are flying Southwest home to see mom and dad for some leave, you need to login to your Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward account and add your KTN to your profile. Ideally you should do this before you book your travel.

Add KTN to Southwest Profile for TSA PreCheck Military
Screenshot (w/ personal info removed) of how to add a KTN to your Southwest Profile

I have an existing reservation, how do I make sure I can use the TSA PreCheck line?

Ideally, travelers should add their KTN to their Defense Travel System profile (or chosen airline if traveling for personal reasons) before you book your flight. However, travelers can add a KTN to an existing reservation although the procedures tend to vary by airline. In some cases you may even have to contact the airline.

Can I add TSA PreCheck to my boarding pass while I am at the airport?

We’ve not heard of any travelers being allowed to do this at the airport on the day of travel, although we hypothesize it’s not out of the realm of possibility. We have heard rumors that travelers CANNOT add TSA PreCheck to reservations after checking in (whether in person or online) but we’ve not confirmed. Recommendation is to check with the ticket counter at the airport or call the airline directly.

Better yet, don’t find yourself in this pickle and add your KTN before you even book your flights.

Can I get access to TSA PreCheck free using a Credit Card?

Yes, there are many credit card companies that offer various TSA PreCheck or Global Entry benefits for members. A full list can be found here (non-affiliate link).

Although, as a member of the military you do not need a credit card to get access because TSA PreCheck is provided gratis.

Additional FAQs about TSA PreCheck Military Benefits

Additional FAQs about TSA PreCheck Military Benefits

There is a great of confusion about what TSA PreCheck travel benefits are available to Military Members (and their family) as well as several frequently asked questions or situational problems. We try to untangle as many of these as possible for our readers. If your question isn’t answered, be sure to drop us a comment, below, or tweet us your question.

Is TSA PreCheck free for the Military?

Yes, military members, reservists, students of service academies and the National Guard are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. There is no cost for this. However, travelers must add their Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your Defense Travel System profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

Can you go through TSA PreCheck with military ID?

Yes and no. Meaning, that if you have already added your Known Traveler Number (KTN) to your itinerary (and your boarding pass shows “TSA PreCheck”) you can present your official DoD Identification as your chosen form of ID (instead of say a Drivers License or Passport) to pass through the TSA PreCheck line.

However, if you have not added your KTN number (and your boarding pass isn’t marked “TSA PreCheck”) you cannot use only your ID to pass through the TSA PreCheck security line. Instead, you must use the normal security checkpoint line or attempt to add your KTN to your reservation at the airport and reprint your boarding pass.

Is TSA PreCheck free for military spouses?

Currently, no. Civilian spouses of military members are not automatically enrolled in TSA PreCheck. They can, however, register for the program on their own including paying the $85.00 fee.

Note: Occasionally (and without any apparent rhyme or reason) family members traveling with another member who has TSA PreCheck will receive PreCheck access for an individual flight.

Can children of military members get TSA PreCheck for free?

Children 12 and under can use the TSA PreCheck security line for free when traveling with a parent or legal guardian who does have TSA PreCheck access. This benefit applies to children of military members as well provided that member is traveling at the same time.

Children 13 or over must register for the TSA PreCheck service, including paying the $85 fee.

Can military retirees get TSA PreCheck for free?

No, military retirees do not qualify for free TSA PreCheck access and must register for the program through the TSA’s application process.

Can military retirees get TSA PreCheck for free?

Do veterans get free TSA PreCheck?

No, veterans do not recieve TSA PreCheck for free. While active duty military members are automatically registered for the TSA PreCheck program veterans are not.

However, Veterans may be able to get free TSA PreCheck access via other means including via a Credit Card.

If I had PreCheck while I was on Active Duty do I need to register when I get out?

Yes, veterans no longer officially affiliated with the armed services and who are not DoD civilians will have to register for TSA PreCheck status.

Author note: there’s a potentially confusing question here that I’ve tried to address as well. If you recall, TSA PreCheck for civilians is a 5-year term. In other words, you sign up, get approved, and you have access for five years. I was unclear whether that 5-year term applied to the military as well AND the overlap that *might* exist when someone exited the military.

For example, let’s say a Marine signs a 4-year contract. During that 4 years he/she has access to TSA PreCheck for Free due to their military status. However, do they get a “free” 5th year when they get out? Turns out I was overthinking it and the 5-year term DOES NOT apply to members of the military. They are only covered while they are “in.”

I tweeted the @AskTSA Twitter account and they said this:

Is TSA PreCheck free for Military and does it last for five years

Can disabled veterans get TSA PreCheck for free?

No, disabled veterans do not get TSA PreCheck access for free and must register through standard means.

However the Vets Travel Safe Act is a piece of legislation that would give disabled veterans access to TSA PreCheck for no cost. It has not yet been signed into law (or passed all branches of congress).

Can you use your DoD number for TSA PreCheck?

Yes, your DoD number is your Known Traveler Number, or KTN, that is used to associate your travel profiles with the TSA PreCheck program. To use your TSA PreCheck benefits on official orders you have to update your Defense Travel System profile with your KTN. To use TSA PreCheck on personal travel you must update the airline profile of the airline you are flying with your KTN (your DoD ID number).

Do military students qualify for TSA PreCheck?

Yes, students of military academies are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. There is no cost for this. However, students must add their Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your Defense Travel System profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

Can DoD Civilian Employees get TSA PreCheck for free?

Yes, DoD Civilian Employees are automatically enrolled in TSA PreCheck at no charge. To use your TSA PreCheck benefits you must add your Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your MilConnect profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

Is TSA PreCheck free for National Guard Members?

Yes, members of the National Guard are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. There is no cost for this. However, students must add their Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your Defense Travel System profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

Is TSA PreCheck free for Reservists?

Yes, reservists are automatically enrolled in the TSA PreCheck program. There is no cost for this. However, students must add their Known Traveler Number (KTN), which for military members is your DoD ID number, to your Defense Travel System profile if traveling on official orders and/or airline profile if traveling for personal reasons.

How do I know I have TSA PreCheck?

Your boarding pass will display the TSA PreCheck logo indicating you are authorized to use the TSA PreCheck line on your current itinerary.

Why do members of the military get TSA PreCheck for free?

Members of military and DoD civilians undergo extensive background checks in order to qualify for employment with the federal government. As such, they are deemed a low travel risk and easily qualify for the TSA PreCheck program.

What is the difference between TSA PreCheck and Global Entry?

These two “trusted traveler” programs are often confused. Before explain the TSA PreCheck Military Benefits let’s examine the key differences between these two related but different programs.

TSA PreCheck is designed to expedite airport security checkpoint procedures. Global Entry, on the other hand, is designed to expedite border crossings (often done at an airport when returning from international travel).

Global Entry Logo - is global entry free for military members
TSA Precheck - a must do for your first business trip

They both leverage the concept of a trusted traveler, or someone who’s been through a background check and deemed a low security risk. They both can be used at airports (although for different purposes) and when travelers obtain Global Entry they also get access to TSA PreCheck. This is NOT the case the other way around.

Travelers who have TSA PreCheck are NOT automatically signed up for Global Entry and must still complete that process.

Be sure to check out our article on Global Entry and the Military here

Thanks for your service and for stopping by

We appreciate your service. No matter your branch, you served and we are grateful. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check out some of our other great travel content including some of these interesting articles:

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Author Biography

We. Do. Business Travel. The CBoardingGroup.com is a leading business travel focused travel blog. The principal author has over 18 years of consistent & frequent business travel. Over the years, he has developed various travel habits, travel tips, advice and more that he shares with fellow travelers of all skill levels. From hotel life, to airplane tips, to the weekly grind of frequent travel, plus a little travel humor, this blog is a haven for business travelers. Read his full bio here.

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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