There have been a lot of mentions of redress numbers lately; from airlines asking you to input them during booking (if you have them), to people complaining about frequent SSSS markings on their boarding passes.
In order to uncover the real meaning behind redress numbers, and their implications on airport security, we dug into the most common cases and tips for applying to get one yourself. Let’s take a look!
What is a redress number?
The redress number definition states that it is “the record identifier for people who apply for redress through the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP).”
But what does that actually mean?
It means that, if you’ve been subject to additional and multiple security screenings when traveling, there’s a good chance that the Department of Homeland Security is mistaking you for someone else.
Why does this happen?
Since there are a lot of people on DHS and Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) watch lists in order to make sure every passenger is safe when traveling, there’s a huge chance you’re sharing a name or likeness with someone on that list.
With the new redress control number system, passengers who’ve mistakenly been searched more than the regular amount can file an inquiry. If there really was a mistake, DHS will issue a number you can enter when booking to make sure that you’re not harassed anymore. A redress number is a unique number assigned to you, and only to you, to prove your identity and stop you from experiencing any inconveniences in the future.
When do I need a redress number?
If you’ve been repeatedly identified for additional screenings, you can file an inquiry and apply for a redress number to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
If you’ve had negative experiences in the following parts of airport control, you can file an inquiry with the DHS:
- Trouble passing through TSA security checkpoints
- Trouble passing through Customs and Border Protection checkpoints
- Incidents where you were required to go through additional screening at the airport
You can also use the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) if you were denied boarding or delayed during an airport experience by an official. In cases of clearing the CBP screenings, you should get a redress number if you were referred to secondary screening, denied entry into the US, etc.
Especially urgent cases are those in which you were told by an airport/security/customs official that your information was incorrect, that your fingerprints and photo ID didn’t match your name, or that you were on a no-fly list. In these cases, you shouldn’t just consider getting a redress number but file an application to the DHS as soon as possible.
What do I need to do to apply for TRIP and a redress number?
If you have reasonable causes to believe that you need a redress number, you can file an inquiry into your file with the DHS.
When filing the redress number application, you should take the following steps:
1) Describe your travel experience
Even though these details aren’t required to submit your application, it’s good to know your flight number, dates, and describe the incident. This will help the DHS determine whether the additional screening or inconvenience you’ve endured were random, or caused by a mistake.
This is also where you’ll select any scenarios you’ve experienced, and which can be cause for issuing you a redress number.
2. Incidents related to privacy
If you believe that an official exposed your information and thus violated your privacy, you can note it here.
This is usually applicable in cases where agents phone each other to verify your data, or use other means of communication that expose your private information to third parties (even if they are government officials or TSA agents).
3. Incident details
Provide all the details of the incident(s) that you can remember. If you’ve noticed a pattern (for example, having more trouble when passing customs than security, or vice versa), this is the section where you can state it.
4. Personal information
You’ll have to state all of your personal information, as well as height and physical appearance details. If you’ve used any other names (for example, maiden name), you should also list it.
5. Contact information
6. Attorney/representative information (if applicable)
7. Identity documentation (passport/ID/other forms of government-issued documentation)
The main purpose of a redress number is to confirm your identity, so if you get it, you can use it the same way you use other identification numbers (such as the TSA PreCheck Known Traveler number).
Do I need a redress number if I have trusted traveler programs like TSA PreCheck or Global Entry?
It depends. Do you experience security problems when traveling? Then you definitely do.
Even though a TSA PreCheck Known Traveler number can help, some people still experience problems because their info matches that of someone on the Do Not Fly list. Same goes for Global Entry. Even if you’re not flagged when using the kiosk, you may be flagged later on, so it’s best not to gamble if you want to have a stress-free airport experience.
If you’re not experiencing any major inconveniences, then you don’t have to apply for TRIP, and can continue using your regular security & border expedition programs. Also, keep in mind that having a redress number doesn’t mean you’ll go through customs and security faster (as is the case with TSA Pre and GE). You just won’t be singled out. And if you have the magical combination of the redress number, Global Entry, and TSA Pre - you might just start loving going through security.
My airline is asking me for a TSA redress number, what do I do?
Most airlines are working to implement the redress number system, which is why you may be seeing an additional field when booking your tickets.
However, if you don’t have a redress number, you can leave it blank. If you do have a redress number, make sure you add it to your booking, just like you’d add your Known Traveler number with TSA Pre. Again, you can use both numbers if you’ve applied for both services.
Too many additional airport screenings?
If you think you’re being singled out for additional screenings more often than the normal amount, don’t worry.
Just apply to TRIP and ensure that your next experience is spent at an airport lounge and not in security interviews.