Become a Registered Traveler

If you’re a frequent flier, you may want to consider enrolling in a registered traveler program.

The Transportation Security Administration and private industry developed the Registered Traveler program to provide expedited security screening for passengers who volunteer to undergo a threat assessment in order to confirm that they do not pose or are not suspected of posing a threat to transportation or national security.

It’s a public/private program in which the TSA sets the standards and approves vendors who work with individual airports to implement the plan. Seventy airports across the nation are enrolled in the program.

Passengers who participate in this system must first provide personal biographical information including name, address, phone number, citizenship status, and previous addresses, along with other information. The biographical information will be collected by a commercial Registered Traveler service provider. The biographical portion of the enrollment may be accomplished via a secure web site. Next, the applicant proceeds to the biometric phase of the enrollment process. During biometric enrollment applicants will present identification documents and fingerprints. Applicants may also choose to have an image of their iris taken if they wish to use an iris image as an alternative to a fingerprint scan at the security checkpoint. The iris image is totally non-invasive to the eye. Once the biometric enrollment is complete, the service provider submits the collected data to the TSA which performs a Security Threat Assessment of the applicant. If the assessment does not indicate that the applicant is suspected of posing a risk to aviation security, the TSA will return an approved STA result to the service provider. The service provider will then provide the passenger with a Registered Traveler card. The card will be a smartcard, containing biometric information to prevent the card from being used by unauthorized persons. This card will then be inserted into a verification kiosk at special checkpoints, which will verify the passengers biometrics (fingerprint or iris scan) and acknowledge membership and clearance to proceed to RT screening. The traveler must pay the TSA $28 a year to participate in the program in addition to the fee individual vendors charge, which is about $100 a year. More information is here.

The program has been criticized by airlines, who object to giving coach customers the services reserved for first- and business-class travelers. Others question the safety of the plan, saying a terrorist with a clean record could easily pass muster with the TSA. Still others object to the program on privacy grounds.

But for those who travel several times a month, or a week, a swifter-moving security line can be a godsend. Passengers stride past the main security line, head to the Registered Traveler lanes, insert their biometric smart card in a kiosk, confirm their identity with a thumbprint scan and proceed through a checkpoint. The process takes less than five minutes, compared with the 20 minutes or more it often takes for passengers not enrolled in the program.

Here is a list of TSA-approved vendors:

  • Blue Streak Airport Services, Inc.
  • 1229 J Street
    Sacramento, CA 95816
  • FLO Corporation
  • 14000 Thunderbolt Place, Bldg R
    Chantilly, VA 20155
  • Fly Fast, LLC
  • 1535 N. Dale Mabry Highway
    Lutz, FL 33548
  • Priva Technologies, Inc.
  • 875 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 1404
    Chicago, IL 60611
  • Unisys Corporation
  • 11720 Plaza America Drive, Tower III
    Reston, VA 20190
  • Verant Identification Systems, Inc.
  • 2496 Ridge Road West, Suite 203
    Rochester NY 14626
  • Verified Identity Pass, Inc.
  • 600 Third Avenue, 10th Floor
    New York, NY 10016
  • Vigilant Solutions
  • 1721 Penman Road
    Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

Creative Commons License Photo credit: Tom Mascardo