TSA introduces state-of-the art identity verification technology at DEN security checkpoints

Local Press Release
Friday, November 18, 2022

DENVER - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at Denver International Airport (DEN) has deployed the next generation of Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) to verify the identity of travelers.

First generation CAT units are designed to scan a traveler’s photo identification, confirm the traveler’s identity as well as their flight details. The new CAT units, referred to as CAT-2, have the same capabilities, but are also equipped with a camera that captures a real-time photo of the traveler.

CAT-2 compares the traveler’s photo on the identification credential against the in-person, real-time photo. Once the CAT-2 confirms the match, a TSA officer will verify and the traveler can proceed to security screening, without ever exchanging a boarding pass. TSA officers can perform additional passenger verification if needed.

“Identity verification of every traveler prior to flying is a key step in the security screening process. TSA embraces the use of this type of technology to enhance security and increase the efficiency of our operation,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Colorado Larry Nau. “We are grateful for our partners locally who have been key in bringing this capability to DEN and for the investment TSA made in the security operations at DEN.”

Photos captured by CAT units are never stored or used for any other purpose than immediate identity verification. Travelers who do not wish to participate in the facial matching process can opt out in favor of an alternative identity verification process. 

As an added convenience, the CAT-2 units at DEN are equipped with readers that allow travelers to use state-issued digital driver licenses or digital identification cards for TSA identity verification purposes. Last week, the Colorado Department of Revenue announced that state residents could add their Colorado ID to Apple Wallet.

Earlier this year, the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division and Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration began offering the same capability to their residents who have a current, valid state-issued driver license or photo ID. Any traveler who has a state-issued digital ID in Apple Wallet can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch on a CAT-2 digital reader in lieu of providing a physical photo ID for identity verification. Residents should continue to carry their physical driver license or photo ID.

There are currently five CAT-2 units with digital readers in use at DEN and they are located in the North Security Checkpoint. These five units are in addition to 21 first-generation CAT units that are in use at each of the three DEN security checkpoints.

CAT plays an important role in passenger identity verification. It improves a TSA officer’s ability to authenticate a guest’s photo identification while also identifying inconsistencies associated with fraudulent travel documents.

TSA continues to integrate new technologies into its identity verification process. Read more about these programs at www.tsa.gov/digital-id.