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Now You Can Get TSA Precheck at the DMV, a Concert, or a Tax Office

by Harriet Baskas /
Passengers at O'Hare International Airport wait in line to be screened at a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint on May 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. Waiting times at the checkpoints today have been reported to be as long 2 hours.Scott Olson / Getty Images

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Twenty-five million.

That how many travelers the Transportation Security Administration is determined to enroll in Trusted Traveler programs, most notably Precheck and Global Entry, by 2019.

And if it takes adopting the same “we’re everywhere, so you may as well buy it now” approach that the Girl Scouts promote with their folding tables outside grocery stores during cookie season, TSA’s stance seems increasingly to be “let’s do it.”

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Getting more people enrolled in the Precheck program, which gives travelers five years of expedited security clearance in exchange for some personal information — and $85 — doesn't just increase national security, said David Lim, executive marketing officer at TSA. “Our brand research found that Precheck makes people feel rewarded, respected, empowered and engaged.”

Those are all good attributes for a product, said Lim, “So, broadening distribution is critical to making it easier for consumers to buy our product.”

TSA has been promoting its Precheck product by getting airlines, hotel chains, credit card companies, loyalty programs and corporations, such as Microsoft, to spread the word and, in some cases, reimburse Precheck enrollment fees for employees or members.

For example, American Express gold and platinum card holders have received reimbursements for Precheck application fees for a few years now. Some airlines, including JetBlue, had limited time offers to pay Precheck enrollment fees for upper level frequent fliers.

Currently United Airlines, Club Carlson and, as of July 28, Hilton Honors, allow customers to redeem accrued points for TSA Precheck fees.

Related: How TSA's Big 'Bet' to Sell Travelers on PreCheck Program Fell Short

At the urging of its enrollment services partner, MorphoTrust, which operates the IdentoGO program, TSA is upping its Precheck enrollment game in more creative ways.

Last summer TSA approved the opening of Precheck enrollment centers at H&R Block tax service offices in 27 states. More locations have been added since then.

More recently, MorphoTrust set up Precheck enrollment sites in Department of Motor Vehicle offices across Virginia. The company also offers temporary Precheck sign-up centers as a perk for attendees at some big conferences and now has a “Summer Tour” under way bringing pop-up enrollment centers to easy-to-access hotels in 15 cities across the country.

“MorphoTrust markets the Precheck program, with our approval,” said Lim, “So far we haven’t shut anything down.”

And the newest place Precheck is being marketed is at music concerts.

As part of a freshly inked deal with mega concert promoter LiveNation, travelers are being encouraged to apply for Precheck status at festivals, such as the two weekend-long Watershed country music festival underway in central Washington State.

“As demand grows, we’re growing our enrollment network to meet passenger needs,” said Charlie Carroll, MorphoTrust’s vice president of Identity Services. “And to make it convenient and more accessible to sign up, we’re going where there are large groups of people that often had to travel to get there.”

Related: TSA Lines Causing Frowns? Send in the Clowns! (and Tiny Horses)

Music festivals fit the bill and, as a bonus, under the new partnership Precheck enrollees will not only get expedited security clearance at airports, they’ll be able to access their Precheck status to get Fast Pass lanes at many Live Nation concerts as well.

Carroll won’t say whether these new enrollment strategies — and some “creative pricing programs and a major bank partnership to be announced in the next 30 to 45 days" — will ensure TSA reaches its 25 million goal by 2019, but he’s confident systems are in place to keep up with demand.

“We’re currently enrolling nearly 250,000 people a month and the number is growing,” said Carroll, who notes that it took about 14 months to get the first million Precheck enrollees signed up, 10 months to get the second million and just five months to reach 3 million.

“Volumes are picking up dramatically,” said Carroll, “We think we’re going to hit 4 million in about three months.”

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