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Do you have a Known Traveler Number? This probably isn’t a question you expect someone to ask when you fly. While you don’t need a Known Traveler Number (KTN) to travel, having one helps you avoid long airport security lines.

Known Traveler Number
Your Known Traveler Number helps you avoid long airport security lines.
Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels

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What is a Known Traveler Number (KTN)?

This might be the first time seeing the term “Known Traveler Number” but you may already have one. You see, you receive a KTN when your application is approved for one of these federal Trusted Traveler Programs:

  • TSA PreCheck
  • Global Entry

If you have one of these four credentials, your Known Traveler Number (sometimes called a CBP PASSID) is printed on the back of your card.

The FAST program doesn’t give you the option to enjoy free TSA PreCheck status. But commercial truck drivers can still enjoy expedited entry into Canada or Mexico from the U.S.

Frequent flyers will be most familiar with TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. For instance, entering your KTN when you buy plane tickets ensures your boarding pass has TSA PreCheck. Without this seal on your boarding pass, you must go through the regular TSA airport security line, even if you have TSA PreCheck.

Below is a quick overview of how each Trusted Travel Program can help you avoid travel security lines.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck costs $85 to apply and is valid for 5 years. U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents can apply. Children under age 12 can accompany their parents through TSA PreCheck lines for free.

These credentials let you go through the expedited TSA PreCheck line at over 200 U.S. airports when you fly with over 60 participating airlines. You don’t have to remove your shoes, laptop, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, or light jackets.

After submitting the 5-minute online application, you schedule an appointment at one of the 380 nationwide enrollment centers for a 10-minute interview. The application process is similar to getting a passport.

TSA PreCheck doesn’t let you enjoy expedited security when you re-enter the United States from foreign countries.

Global Entry

Global Entry costs $100 every 5 years per person. However, you might be able to extend Global Entry by one year. It includes TSA PreCheck and expedites your re-entry into the U.S. at over 75 airports.

U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and select foreign nationals can apply.

The application process is more extensive as you first apply online. Then, you schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center at most major airports and select U.S. cities.

There are fewer Global Entry enrollment centers than TSA PreCheck centers. For example, the only Indiana enrollment center is at South Bend International Airport. In California, you will need to visit the Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco metropolitan areas.


NEXUS allows for expedited foot or vehicle entry into the United States and Canada plus marine entry from Canada into the United States. You also get free TSA PreCheck but not Global Entry. This program costs $50 every 5 years and open to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and Canadian citizens.

The NEXUS enrollment centers are only along the U.S.-Canada border in select U.S states and Canadian provinces.


SENTRI costs $122.50 every 5 years. But, you get an expedited foot or vehicle entry from Canada and Mexico. TSA PreCheck airport access is available to U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents.

Get a Known Traveler Number for Free

While paying for $85 for TSA PreCheck or $100 for Global Entry every 5 years isn’t a large fee, many of the best travel credit cards reimburse your application fee for these two programs. Maybe you already own some of these cards.

Note, the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit is only for the primary cardholder for all of these credit cards:


The thought of having a Known Traveler Number may feel intimidating. But you easily get this number when you qualify for expedited airport security programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. When booking your next flight, provide this number to the airline to make sure you can skip the long security lines.


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