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Transportation Security Administration

Screening Travelers and Property

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TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. Screening is conducted without regard to a person’s race, color, sex, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability. TSA is sensitive to passenger needs and trains its officers to conduct screening of religious and cultural items requiring care in handling.

Talk to TSA officers about the best way to relieve any concerns during the screening process. If you continue to experience concerns during or after your screening, you should request to speak with a supervisory TSA officer or a passenger support specialist. If you have specific questions or concerns about traveling with items that require care in handling, please contact the TSA Cares helpline. You may call 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.  

TSA Cares provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. Read more about TSA’s passenger support.

Passenger screening at the airport is part of TSA’s layered approach to security to get you safely to your destination. Read about various screening measures in place to secure aviation.

Native American

Prior to Flying

You may contact the TSA Cares helpline 72 hours before your travel to request assistance at the airport checkpoint. You may request a TSA passenger support specialist, who is trained on screening considerations of religious items in a manner that may not require TSA officers to handle them.

Packing

We recommend not placing delicate religious items in your checked baggage. Most checked baggage is screened without the need for a physical bag search. Still, TSA may need to physically inspect your checked baggage during the screening process.

You may wish to pack religious items in carry-on baggage in a container that can be separated from other belongings and placed by itself in a bin for X-ray screening. We recommend using a clear plastic bag or other clear plastic container that can be easily opened to remove religious items for screening. Do not use a metal container. These items can then be spread out in separate bins for X-ray screening.

Inform the TSA Officer

Let the TSA officer know if you have a religious item that you do not want touched because of the tenets of your Native American religious beliefs. You may explain that the item has religious significance and your religious beliefs hold that the item should not be touched by a non-practitioner of your Native American religion. Having a passenger support specialist present can help facilitate communication with the TSA officer and increase the chances that your religious items will not have to be touched.

You may ask for an explanation of the screening procedures that will be performed. You may request to speak with a supervisor or manager, or have a supervisor or manager be present during the screening.

Screening

Unpack and place religious items in an X-ray bin by themselves with nothing on top of them. This will help facilitate better X-ray images so that religious items may be screened without the need for further inspection.

If any items alarm during X-ray screening, including delicate religious ones, TSA officers will attempt to resolve the alarm with a visual inspection. If further visual inspection is required, you may ask to personally hold and display the religious item for TSA officers or place it on a flat surface for viewing.

If the alarm cannot be resolved through visual inspection, the item will be tested for traces of explosives using a swab test. You may ask TSA officers to collect a sample without picking up and handling the item. You may also ask to hold the religious item or lay it on a flat surface while a sample is collected, or ask that TSA officers wear gloves or change gloves to conduct the screening.

A TSA officer may need to physically inspect a religious item if it cannot be adequately screened using X-ray, visual inspection, through explosives testing or other screening procedures. If you have an item that cannot be touched, consider alternative methods of getting the item to your destination.