What Is a Known Traveler Number & How Do You Get One? Find Out Now

People who travel frequently want to be able to make their traveling experience as streamlined as possible. There are actually several things that travelers can do to help themselves out. One of the most popular methods is to get a Known Traveler Number (KTN). If you have never heard of this before, then you might be wondering “what is a Known Traveler Number?”

In this article, we are going to be explaining what a Known Traveler Number is and what you need to do to obtain one. Once you’ve read through all of the information, it’ll be a lot easier to move forward with this. It isn’t a difficult process, but you do need to know how to go about getting the number. Read on and we will explore everything that you need to know together.

What Does a Known Traveler Number Do?

Firstly, you should know that Known Traveler Numbers are also referred to as Trusted Traveler Numbers by some. The terms are interchangeable, so don’t be alarmed if you see this being referred to by its other name. With that out of the way, we can focus on why you will want to get a KTN. KTNs can be issued by the Department of Homeland Security, the US Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Defense.

what is a known traveler number

This number shows that you have gone through a background check process or other screening methods ahead of your flight. You can use your KTN when booking your airfare to increase the chances of using the TSA PreCheck system. This is a streamlined process that lets you pass through security a whole lot faster than usual. For many travelers, this is going to save them countless hours of time every single year.

The KTN gives you access to another neat benefit as well. You’ll be able to enjoy streamlined customs processing if you’re a member of the Global Entry program. This is only going to be available at certain airports, but it’s still a nice perk. It’s another great way for you to save yourself some time when you travel a lot.

Do You Get TSA PreCheck Status Every Time?

You don’t get TSA PreCheck status every time you fly. Even with your KTN, there are going to be times when you’ll have to go through normal security. The KTN simply increases your odds of being chosen for the TSA PreCheck status. It works a lot of the time, but sometimes you might simply not have good luck.

You’re probably wondering what the reasons are for people with Known Traveler Numbers not being chosen. There are a few explanations. The most common explanation is that the TSA tries to randomize the selection process as part of their regular security screening procedures. This can be frustrating for those who went to the effort of obtaining a KTN, but sometimes it does occur.

The other reason is that you may not have used your KTN properly. There are many situations where customers find out that they wrote their KTN down wrong on an application or ticket. This can cause wires to get crossed and you’ll wind up not being allowed to go through the TSA PreCheck screening lane. This is why it’s so important to check to ensure that your KTN is written down properly.

Also, your KTN might not be saved to your frequent flyer profile properly. You’ll want to log into your frequent flyer account to check things out. If the number isn’t there, then it will be easy enough to remedy the situation. Once you get this fixed, it’ll be less likely to cause you any problems moving forward.

Many people choose to book their travel through third-party agencies as well. Sometimes, these agencies do not pass the KTN to the airlines properly. You can fix this by choosing to contact the airline directly. Just give them a call and make sure that your KTN is linked to your reservation.

There are some hoops to jump through to make sure that your KTN is being used properly. Even so, it isn’t that difficult once you know what to look out for. If you’re a member of TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, then you’ll be able to enjoy a streamlined process. Knowing this, you may want to consider applying for one of these programs to obtain your KTN.

known traveler number

Why Do People Sign up for These Programs?

These programs are really going to make your traveling experience that much easier. It costs money to apply for TSA PreCheck status and the same goes for the Global Entry program. The Global Entry program provides the same benefits of TSA PreCheck status while also offering faster US customs screening for international travelers when entering the country. Your KTN is valuable, and you’ll still be using it even when you gain membership into these programs.

Whenever you purchase airfare, you’ll need to write down your KTN. You want to make sure that this number is always present so that you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of being a known traveler. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of always looking for your KTN number when purchasing airfare. If it isn’t there, then you should ask questions and make sure that it gets put into the system.

How Do You Get a Known Traveler Number?

The simplest way to obtain a known traveler number is to apply for the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs. You can go about this in a couple of different ways. One of the most common ways is to simply apply on your own. As of the time of this writing, the American citizens can pay $85.00 to apply for the TSA PreCheck program and $100.00 to apply for the Global Entry program. If approved, you will get a five-year membership into the program that you applied for.

You also receive your KTN upon being accepted into one of these programs. These are the most common programs that people sign up for to expedite their traveling experience. It’s also possible to receive a KTN by signing up for the NEXUS or SENTRI Programs. We are going to go over why you might want to sign up for each of them below to give you a better idea of which programs will appeal to you.

TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck is the best option for frequent travelers who only travel within the United States. If you’re a US citizen or a permanent resident of the US, then this is a great program to consider. It makes it a lot faster to get through security while traveling in the United States. Your travel within the United States will always be more pleasant when you’re a member of the TSA PreCheck program.

Being able to make use of the TSA PreCheck screening lanes really does save you a lot of time. Most travelers will save themselves many hours by simply being able to cut down on time spent going through security. It also makes it possible to show up to the airport a little closer to your boarding time due to the security process not being so time-consuming.

Global Entry

Global Entry offers you all of the same benefits as the TSA PreCheck program. The added benefit is that it makes getting through customs easier when you’re traveling internationally. This is going to be a good fit for anyone who has to travel outside of the country regularly. Business travelers and personal travelers both benefit from this convenient program.

It’s actually not much more expensive to get a Global Entry membership than it is to get the TSA PreCheck status. If you’re going to be traveling internationally at all, then this is the one you’ll want to sign up for. You’ll be able to make your travel that much easier, both domestically and internationally.


NEXUS is a program that appeals to those who travel to Canada regularly. It makes it simpler to get through customs when you’re traveling in the United States and when you’re passing through the Canadian border. This is a great program for both United States citizens and Canadian citizens. If you want to be able to travel across both countries easier, then this makes a lot of sense.

Also, it’s worth noting that becoming a NEXUS member allows you to go to Canada without having a Canadian passport. Many Americans who have family members living in Canada sign up for this program. As of the time of this writing, there is only a $50.00 online fee to become a NEXUS member. You’ll be issued a PASSID when you become a member of the program and this is the same as a KTN.


SENTRI is a program that is actually very similar to the NEXUS program. The difference is that this is for people who frequently travel to Mexico. Crossing the United States and Mexican border is going to be streamlined for those who are SENTRI members. If you’re a US citizen who travels to Mexico a lot on business or for personal reasons, then this is an ideal way to obtain a KTN.

As of the time of this writing, the SENTRI fee is $122.25. This is substantially more expensive than the NEXUS program. Similarly to the NEXUS program, you’ll be issued a PASSID once you have been approved. This will act the same as a KTN, so you’ll want to enter this whenever you’re traveling.

Receive a Known Traveler Number through the US Armed Forces

You should know that all US Armed Forces members will receive a KTN in the form of a DoD identification number. All of the benefits of using a KTN will apply to those who have earned it through their service. Whenever you travel, you should also make sure to enter the DoD identification number to reap the benefits. This will allow you to have a smooth traveling experience.

Get a Known Traveler Number for Free with these 3 Credit Cards

You can purchase Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for around $100, which gives you access to a known traveler number for 5 years. Even better yet, you can get either of those programs for FREE, through a few different travel credit cards. All of the following cards offer a statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck as a benefit.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve

[earnist_link ref="chase-sapphire-reserve-card" id="6311"] [/earnist_link]
You'll earn 60,000 points after spending $4000 in the first 3 months.
You'll earn 3X points on travel and dining.
Also Earn a total of 10X points on Lyft rides.
$300 annual travel credit.
Priority Pass Select airport lounge access.
TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.
Points are worth 50% more when used in the Chase travel portal.
No foreign transaction fees.
1:1 point transfers to partner hotels and airlines.
1 year of Lyft Pink.
No foreign transaction fees.
This is one of the best premium travel credit cards if you want some luxury. It has a valuable signup bonus with easy to redeem points. You also get a boost to your points value in the Chase travel portal. The biggest key to this card is the airport lounge access. If you travel a lot, it's extremely valuable.
[earnist_link ref="chase-sapphire-reserve-card" id="6311"]LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>[/earnist_link]

2. Capital One Venture

Capital One Venture

You’ll earn 50,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months.
You’ll earn 2X points on every purchase.
Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
Transfer points to airline and hotel travel partners.
$95 annual fee. (waived year 1)
No foreign transaction fees.
This is a great travel credit card. It offers a large introductory offer, free TSA PreCheck for 5 years, plus the annual fee is waived the first year.
[earnist_link ref="capital-one-venture-rewards-card" id="10881"]LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>[/earnist_link]

3. American Express Platinum Card

Amex Platinum Card

You’ll earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months.
You’ll earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel. You’ll earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month (bonus $20 in December).
Enjoy access to the exclusive Global Airport Lounge Collection.
$200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 every calendar year with one qualifying airline. Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your card. Enrollment required.
Fine Hotels & Resorts Access.
Hilton & Marriott Gold Status.
Discounts on First/Business/Premium Economy tickets.
$550 annual fee.
No foreign transaction fees.
Terms Apply
With a large introductory offer, statement credits, and airport lounge access, this is an excellent premium travel credit card.
[earnist_link ref="the-platinum-card-from-american-express" id="6500"]LEARN HOW TO APPLY NOW >>[/earnist_link]

Remember to Book Your Travel with an Airline That Recognizes Your KTN

Not every airline recognizes the KTN system. There are a large number of airlines worldwide that will participate in this program. Many of the common airlines in North America such as United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Southwest Airlines are among those that are participating. Take the time to check and see if your preferred airline participates in this program.

Some airlines will even issue their frequent travelers a KTN by giving them access to TSA PreCheck status. There are also many airline-related credit cards that reimburse you for the fees that are associated with the TSA PreCheck and Global Entry programs. If you’re a regular traveler, then you likely already have a favorite airline that you stick with. Be sure to check what they’re offering to see if you can make obtaining your KTN easier.

Our Last Thoughts

Getting your known traveler number is really going to speed things up for you when you’re a frequent traveler. This is worth your while and you’re likely going to want to get one if you travel a lot. There are a large number of different ways that you can obtain a KTN. Which one of them is going to suit you the best is really dependent on your personal circumstances.

If you only travel within the United States, then applying for the TSA PreCheck program might be your best bet. Those who travel internationally frequently will be far better off paying the extra money to become a Global Entry member. Both the NEXUS and SENTRI programs are worthwhile for those traveling to Canada and Mexico respectively. You have many choices when you’re interested in obtaining a KTN.

Now that you have read all of the information above, you should have a much deeper understanding of what a KTN is and what it can do. You’ll be able to use your KTN to make your traveling experience more enjoyable. Take your time and consider your options before applying. You’ll be enjoying the benefits of having a streamlined traveling experience soon enough.

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