You may be familiar with programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, which can help decrease the time you spend going through airport security. But if you’ve ever had trouble entering or exiting the U.S. due to security reasons, it’s a redress number that may help make your travel experience easier.
Since 2007, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been issuing numbers to travelers who have submitted cases to its Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP). Through this program, travelers who have experienced difficulties or delays when entering the U.S. can report such incidents for evaluation. When they do, they’re given a redress number and have the option of disclosing that number when purchasing airline tickets.
Although most travelers don’t have a redress number, it’s important to know what one is and what to expect if you have one and you’re planning your next trip.
What is a redress number?
A redress number, also known as a Redress Control Number, is assigned to a traveler who files an inquiry with DHS TRIP. It simply connects the traveler with the record that is created when they start a DHS TRIP complaint. The overall goal of getting and using a redress number when you travel is to have information that can expedite your experience at airport security readily available in one centralized place.
By filing a redress request, you can dispute or correct information that may be causing travel difficulties. The number itself can be used to monitor the status of your complaint and enable agencies, such as the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Department of State, to access the information you provided in your inquiry.
If you provide your redress number to an airline while booking tickets, the carrier and airport may also be able to see the specifics regarding your query. Sharing a redress number with an airline is optional, not mandatory, and you can still travel even if you don’t provide one.
Who should apply for a redress number?
The vast majority of travelers will never need to file a DHS TRIP complaint and get a redress number. However, there are reasons you may feel like you want to submit an inquiry and get a redress number.
The first is if you routinely experience delays in entering the U.S., are subjected to additional security screening when flying, or are assigned an “SSSS” on your boarding pass. This could indicate that there is information associated with your identity that should be addressed with DHS. Filing a redress inquiry will get that process started.
Similarly, if you’ve ever been prevented from or delayed in boarding a flight or other form of transportation entering the U.S., you should think about filing a redress inquiry. This is especially true if you think such incidents are being applied to you unfairly or based on inaccurate information. A redress inquiry will enable you to dispute any information that isn’t true and provide a record of the case’s findings for border security and other government agencies.
How to apply for a redress number
Applying for a redress number is simple. Go to trip.dhs.gov and read all of the information about submitting a DHS TRIP application. This includes what documents you’ll need, the process for filing on behalf of someone else or as a parent, and what to do if you want to file a civil rights complaint.
When you’re ready to start, click on the button to open a new Traveler Inquiry Form, which will ask you specifics regarding the experience you’re reporting, your personal information, and documentation to verify your identity. Here is a closer look at the form.
Your travel experience
You will have three opportunities to enter information in this tab. The first is details about a specific flight experience, which can include flight dates, number, airline, airport, etc., and what happened.
The second is information about what happened to you at a specific port of entry or regarding immigration, customs, or border patrol actions. Expect to provide dates of entry and/or departure, airline or vessel name (if you sailed), name of the airport/port of entry or departure, and what happened.
The third is a complaint related to violations of privacy. You’ll be asked to type a narrative of what happened in a field that accepts up to 5,000 characters.
Although the form says that this information is voluntary, it is likely to be asked for at some point during the inquiry process. You can expect to be asked for:
- First, middle, and last name
- Other names used
- Date, city, state, and country of birth
- Height, weight, hair and eye color
- U.S. citizenship status
- Mailing and physical address
- Phone number and email address
- Information of attorney or official representative
- How often you travel each month
- Any additional comments
You’ll be asked to provide a copy (not an original) of your unexpired passport or other government-issued photo ID from the following list:
- Passport card
- Driver's license
- Military identification card
- Government identification card (federal/state/local number)
- Certificate of citizenship
- Naturalization certificate
- Immigrant/non-immigrant visa
- Alien registration
- Petition or claim receipt
- I-94 admission form
- FAST card
- SENTRI card
- NEXUS card
- Border crossing card
- SEVIS card
If you’re applying on behalf of a child who doesn’t have a photo ID, a birth certificate is enough. In addition to providing the hard copy, you’ll also be asked to type in information from the documentation you’re submitting.
When the online form is completed, click “Submit” at the bottom of the screen. You’ll have to send your copies of the required documents through email to TRIP@dhs.gov or via regular mail to this address:
DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP)
601 South 12th Street, TSA-901
Arlington, Virginia 20598-6901
If you can’t submit the Travel Inquiry Form online, you can download a PDF version, complete, and either send via email or regular mail to the addresses above.
If you submit your form online, you’ll be automatically assigned a redress number. If you mailed or emailed your application, it can take several weeks to be notified of the status of your inquiry. Submitting documentation via email and the online form can speed this up.
The final word on redress numbers
The overall goal of the DHS TRIP program is to correct errors in government records that can cause travel delays. If you haven’t been delayed or subjected to multiple levels of security screening, you likely have no reason to file for a redress number. Applying for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry may be worth considering if you want to get through security faster. Some of the best travel credit cards even provide free TSA PreCheck. If you already have TSA PreCheck and want to shave off even more time, you may want to look into a CLEAR Plus membership as well.
However, if you have experienced any of these situations, you may want to submit an inquiry to dispute inaccurate identifying information that may be slowing you down at the airport. The process is far from perfect and may not result in a resolution of your security challenges. But having a redress number that you can provide when needed can help clear up information-related issues much faster the next time you travel.
Just remember, applying for and sharing a redress number is completely voluntary. Even if you have one but don’t provide it, you can still book tickets to travel in and out of the U.S. And it may be a good idea to check the perks on your credit cards for access to free TSA PreCheck.