Big change for Clear users: TSA requiring more users to show ID

In line with its standard screening practices, the Transportation Security Administration is requiring randomly selected Clear users to verify their identities by showing a valid form of identification. This rolls back an integral part of the Clear process for some users following security incidents.

Though Clear maintains the “rate at which random ID checks occur has varied over the years based on a number of factors,” this uptick in ID checks among Clear users seems to be in response to two separate security incidents earlier this year. In one case, a passenger allegedly passed through security using someone else’s boarding pass from the trash.

“TSA is responsible for ensuring that all systems and programs, including those provided by private companies, meet requisite standards and will take necessary steps to ensure security needs are met. Accurate and reliable verification of passenger identity is foundational to aviation security and effective screening by TSA,” per a TSA spokesperson. “TSA requires the Registered Traveler (RT) to comply with TSA’s RT-related security requirements, including where available, the future use of state-of-the-art Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units for passenger identity and flight screening status verification. TSA has established a timeline with milestones for this to occur. Currently, all passengers except RT participants are required to present identification at the CAT unit, where it is available.”

As reported by Politico, the aforementioned security incident, plus another last year, involved travelers bypassing the normal three-step TSA screening process via Clear without showing an ID. This prompted a congressional investigation into the service, also stemming from a third issue last year where someone successfully used Clear by posing as a registered user.

Before recent events, Clear users could skip the normal TSA screening process by confirming their identity biometrically (via a fingerprint or iris scan) at a kiosk instead of waiting for the TSA to inspect their government ID and check their boarding pass.

After the scanner verifies a passenger’s identity, a Clear representative escorts the traveler to either the regular TSA line or TSA PreCheck line, bypassing everyone waiting in the first line.

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts.

But now, the TSA is requiring more Clear users to provide a government ID when checking their boarding pass as the final step to approach the security screening area, with that expectation for all travelers as they continue to roll out new technology.

“All Registered Traveler participants will be required to present ID, whether physical or digital, to TSA’s Credential Authentication Technology (CAT), with the timeline for implementation to be determined,” a TSA spokesperson confirmed to TPG.

In response, Clear told TPG that the private expedited security provider has been “collaborating with DHS [the Department of Homeland Security] and TSA since 2020 to implement new industry-wide digital identity standards.”

Clear will implement these processes in the future, allowing a passenger’s identifying information to be digitally transmitted from Clear to next-generation TSA hardware at airport checkpoints. This would avoid any need for passengers to show their IDs down the line.

“We look forward to rolling this out in the future to create an even more seamless, secure traveler experience while avoiding disruption for passengers as travel continues to surge,” according to Clear.

Until then, travelers 18 and older must show valid identification — such as a U.S. passport or driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles — at TSA checkpoints. State-issued IDs must be Real ID compliant starting May 7, 2025.

Related reading:

Popular this month

TPG’s favorite hotels in Latin America
15 Best Day Trips From Durham NC in 2023
Score round-trip flights from San Francisco to Tahiti for just $460
Canada and New England cruise packing list: What to pack for every season
Book ASAP: Discounted one-way and round-trip flights to Hawaii
JetBlue becomes the latest airline to guarantee family seating
Royal Caribbean to teen cruisers: Stay out of this area
Your guide to earning and redeeming with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Breeze CEO David Neeleman doubles downs on Breeze's success, calls sustainable aviation fuel a 'waste of money'
15 Best Day Trips From Tampa in 2023