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TSA Using Credential Authentication Technology at Three More Airports

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Burlington International Airport, Eastern Iowa Airport, and Greater Rochester International Airport are now using new technology that confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

The two credential authentication technology (CAT) units at Burlington and one each at Eastern Iowa and Rochester will scan a passenger’s photo identification to verify the authenticity of the document. The system uses information from the photo identification to confirm a passenger’s flight status by cross-referencing it against the Secure Flight database.

A CAT unit consists of the passport reader, an ID card reader, a federal personal identity verification ID card reader, a monitor, a stand and a UV light.  

When a traveler places their ID in the CAT unit, it informs the TSA officer if the ID is valid. Travelers who approach the TSA travel document checking podium do not have to show their boarding pass because the CAT unit verifies that the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day.

CAT units authenticate several thousand types of IDs including passports, military common access cards, retired military ID cards, Department of Homeland Security Trusted Traveler ID cards, uniformed services ID cards, permanent resident cards, U.S. visas and driver’s licenses and photo IDs issued by state motor vehicle departments.

In addition, it is critical that travelers have their REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses or other acceptable form of identification by the October 1, 2021, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after this date if it is not REAL ID-compliant.

This story was updated on November 10 to include the new CAT unit at Rochester International Airport.

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Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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