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Transportation Security Administration

Biometrics Technology

With the rising use of biometrics for identity verification, TSA is evaluating the operational and security impacts of using passengers’ biometrics to verify their identities. Using biometrics will modernize aviation passenger identity verification over the coming years.

TSA began exploring biometrics in 2015 for identity verification. TSA continues to test biometrics solutions designed to increase security effectiveness while improving efficiency and the passenger experience.

Participation in the testing of biometrics technology is voluntary. Passengers may notify a TSA officer if they do not wish to participate.

Read the TSA Biometrics Roadmap and the TSA Myth Busters to learn more about our biometrics efforts.

Fingerprint Technology

Biometric Authentication TechnologyFingerprint technology can be used to verify identity, allowing a traveler’s fingerprints to serve as both a boarding pass and identity document. The technology matches passenger fingerprints provided at the checkpoint to those that were provided to TSA by travelers when they enrolled in the TSA Pre✓® application program.

In June 2017, TSA tested fingerprint technology at a TSA Pre✓® lane at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and at Denver International Airport.

Facial Recognition Technology

TSA is evaluating facial recognition technology to automate the identity and boarding pass verification process.

After the traveler scans their boarding pass and passport, the system takes a photo of the passenger and verifies that the name on the boarding pass and passport match. It also confirms that the passport photo and the photo taken by the camera match.

TSA tested facial recognition technology at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in February 2018. TSA, in collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, conducted a test at John F. Kennedy International Airport in October 2017. A second test of facial recognition technology with CBP was conducted at LAX in late 2018.

Facial Recognition Pilot with CBP

In November 2018, TSA began testing facial recognition technology at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) in Terminal F as an alternative means to verify a passenger’s identity when they begin screening at a TSA security checkpoint. This ongoing pilot is in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and tests biometric technology for identity verification. The technology used is the Traveler Verification System maintained by CBP. We also tested this system in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport from August to October 2018.

Participation in the facial recognition test is voluntary. Passengers who choose not to have their picture taken should notify a TSA officer.

What passengers can expect

Facial Recognition Technology at Los Angeles International AirportWhen passengers present their boarding passes, a TSA officer will ask if they would like to have their picture taken instead of providing physical identification documents. CBP’s system will attempt to compare that picture to photos in government databases, such as photos obtained from passports or visa applications, to verify the passenger’s identity. TSA does not store the photograph.

If CBP’s system confirms a match to a photograph in a government database, the passenger’s name and date of birth will be sent from the database to a tablet used by the TSA officer. The TSA officer will then use the information displayed on the tablet to verify the identity of the passenger and direct the passenger to proceed with physical screening.

If CBP’s system cannot match the passenger’s picture, the database will indicate that no picture match could be made. Where the system does not produce a match, the TSA officer will use standard document checking procedures.

After the passenger completes screening, a CBP officer may approach and ask to speak with the passenger. The CBP officer will run further checks, which may include a review of immigration and law enforcement databases available to CBP. These databases may reveal whether the passenger is subject of a warrant or other immigration or law enforcement action.

For more information about CBP’s exit program, please visit their biometric air exit website. For more information regarding privacy, please visit the DHS Traveler Verification Service website.