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TSA Expands Use of Credential Authentication Technology

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed new credential authentication technology (CAT) at two more airports.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has installed new credential authentication technology (CAT) at two more airports.

The checkpoints at Niagara Falls International Airport and Flint Bishop International Airport are now using the systems that confirms the validity of a traveler’s identification and confirms their flight information in near real time.

“Use of the new credential authentication technology (CAT) unit enhances detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent documents such as driver’s licenses and passports at checkpoints and increases efficiency by automatically verifying passenger identification,” said Bart R. Johnson TSA’s Federal Security Director for Upstate New York. 

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.  

Passengers should approach the travel document checking station at the checkpoint and hand their ID to the TSA officer who will insert it in the scanner for authentication. Passengers will not have to hand over their boarding pass (electronic or paper), thus reducing a touchpoint. Instead, they should hold up their boarding pass to the TSA officer for visual inspection. The CAT unit will verify that the traveler is prescreened to travel out of the airport for a flight that day; however, a boarding pass may be requested for travelers under the age of 18 and/or those with ID issues.

“The new credential authentication technology unit enhances our detection capabilities for identifying fraudulent ID documents and improves the passenger’s experience by increasing efficiency during the checkpoint experience,” said Michigan TSA Federal Security Director Steve Lorincz. “The CAT unit also reduces touchpoints at the checkpoint, which benefits both officers and travelers during this pandemic.”

Even with TSA’s use of credential authentication technology at the checkpoint, travelers still need to check-in with their airline in advance and bring their boarding pass to their gate agent to show the airline representative before boarding their flight.

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 May 3, 2023, deadline. The CAT units will not accept a driver’s license after May 3, 2023, if it is not REAL ID-compliant.

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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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