Known Traveler Number: What It Is and How It Reduces Air Travel Anxiety

CREDIT CARDS - TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
A Known Traveler Number can help reduce travel stress. Here’s everything you need to know to apply for one.
Updated Oct. 30, 2023
Travelers waiting at airport

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If you ask anyone about their favorite part of their last vacation, they’re unlikely to mention waiting in line at airport security or going through customs. Even seasoned travelers dread removing their shoes and separating their belongings under the pressure of a long line. That’s where Trusted Traveler Programs come in. With these programs, you’re pre-approved to access shorter lines and easier processes. Once you’re accepted, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) that allows you to enter lanes at the airport specifically for members. Here is what you need to know about getting a KTN and how having the right credit cards could help you cover the cost. 

In this article

What is a Known Traveler Number?

A Known Traveler Number is a number that identifies you as a member of a Trusted Traveler Program. You’ll get a KTN when you apply for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI.

There are key differences between the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs. With TSA PreCheck, you’ll get shorter security lines, and you won’t have to remove items from your bag or take off your shoes or belt. Global Entry is intended for international travelers. It provides the TSA PreCheck benefit and also allows speedy clearance through U.S. Customs and Border Protection with automatic kiosks. NEXUS and SENTRI are less popular in the U.S., but both offer similar benefits.

Once you’re approved for a Trusted Traveler Program, you’ll get a KTN, which you’ll need to provide every time you make a reservation with a participating airline. Your TSA PreCheck indicator will then be embedded in the barcode on your boarding pass; you won’t use an ID card to get entry to the TSA PreCheck lanes.

4 benefits of having a Known Traveler Number

  • Wait five minutes or less. Nearly 94% of TSA PreCheck members waited just five minutes or less in their security lanes in January 2020.
  • Leave on your shoes, belt, and jacket. With your Known Traveler Number, you’ll be able to fly through security without removing lightweight jackets, belts, or shoes, so you won’t have to step on a dirty airport floor, lose your pants, or catch a chill.
  • Leave your bag closed. There’s no need to remove your laptop or liquid items from your bag when you have a Known Traveler Number.
  • Enjoy the benefits at major U.S. airports and worldwide. TSA PreCheck is available at more than 200 airports and 73 airlines. If you have Global Entry, you’ll also get access to expedited entry in other countries. NEXUS provides expedited entry into the U.S. from Canada, and SENTRI provides expedited entry into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico.

How to get a Known Traveler Number

To get a KTN, you’ll need to apply for TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI. To apply for each program, you need to complete an online application and schedule an in-person appointment. Here’s what’s required for each.


TSA PreCheck Global Entry NEXUS SENTRI
Fee $78 $100 $50 $122.50
Documents required Your passport/green card or a photo ID plus proof of citizenship Valid passport plus one other form of identification, permanent resident card (if applicable) Proof of citizenship plus a valid photo ID, or permanent resident card (if applicable) Proof of citizenship plus a valid photo ID, or permanent resident card (if applicable)
What to expect Background check and fingerprinting (takes 10 minutes) Background check, fingerprinting, and interview Interview and fingerprinting Background check, fingerprinting, and interview
How long membership lasts 5 years 5 years 5 years 5 years
Best for... Departing from U.S. airports Entering the U.S. via plane, car, or boat from international destinations Entering the U.S. from Canada Entering the U.S. from Mexico

Once you’re approved, you’ll receive a Known Traveler Number for TSA PreCheck or a PASSID for Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI. Both can be used as a KTN when making a reservation.

FAQs about Known Traveler Numbers

Can I look up my Known Traveler Number?

Yes. If you’re a member of TSA PreCheck, you can look up your KTN online. You’ll need to provide your name, date of birth, and one method of contact. If you’re a member of Global Entry, NEXUS, or SENTRI, login to the Trusted Traveler Program site to obtain your PASSID, which you’ll use as your Known Traveler Number.

Is a redress number the same as a Known Traveler Number?

No. A redress number is the identifier you get when you apply for redress through the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program. This is an option for travelers who have been repeatedly flagged for additional screening and want to have errors corrected in the DHS system. A KTN, on the other hand, gets you access to TSA PreCheck lanes.

Can I add my Known Traveler Number after booking?

Yes. You’ll need to contact your airline by phone or online to add your KTN to your reservation.

How many digits are in a Known Traveler Number?

There are nine digits in a Known Traveler Number. PASSID numbers are also nine digits and can be used as a Known Traveler Number.

Why is my Known Traveler Number not on my boarding pass?

Your Known Traveler Number will not be listed on your boarding pass. Instead, your boarding pass will have a TSA PreCheck indicator. If you don’t see the indicator, it may be because:

  • You forgot to enter your Known Traveler Number during booking
  • You entered your Known Traveler Number in the redress number field
  • Information, such as your name, was entered incorrectly
  • You had a disqualifying criminal offense

The final word on Known Traveler Numbers

It’s not just a nine-digit number; It’s your ticket to shorter lines and less stress, so you can start relaxing before you reach your destination. Membership to Trusted Traveler Programs is good for five years, which makes the brief appointment and fee well worth it for frequent travelers. Many of the best travel credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer fee credits for Trusted Traveler Programs as well. (You can get reimbursed for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry fees with these 20 cards.) To enjoy less waiting and hassle next time you go to the airport, apply for your KTN today.

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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

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Author Details

Lindsay Frankel Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.

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