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I get TSA PreCheck as an added bonus alongside my Global Entry membership so perhaps that’s why I’ve never realized (or noticed!) that some people can now avoid the hassle of a trip to a government enrolment center when applying for TSA PreCheck by visiting their local Staples store instead.
A quick Google search appears to suggest that the ability to have your TSA PreCheck interview at a Staples store has been around since 2018, but I only found out about this last week when I walked into the one and only Staples store in LA that offers this service and saw this big sign on the ground:
Before I go any further, make sure that your expectation levels aren’t set too high because although this service is offered countrywide the number of Staples stores at which you can apply for TSA PreCheck is very limited – you can find all the participating stores via this page on the Staples website.
What Is TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is a program that is open to US citizens, nationals and legal residents which allows travelers to use dedicated TSA lanes (at airports that offer them). These TSA lanes do not require travelers to remove light jackets, shoes or belts and liquids when passing through security, and laptops and liquids can remain inside the hand baggage they’re being transported in.
A 5-year membership of the program costs $85 but you can get this fee refunded if you hold a credit card that offers a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit as one of its benefits.
More information on the program can be found on this government website.
What Can You Do At Staples?
The easiest way to start the TSA PreCheck enrollment process is online (here) although you can start the process at participating Staples stores too. Once your application has been processed you’ll need to have a face-to-face interview (they’re not very long) before you can become an active participant in the program and this is where select branches of Staples come in.
At the Staples I visited, the markings on the floor led to a somewhat shabby booth towards the back of the store…
…and the lady seated at the desk in the booth confirmed that she was there to process all the necessary paperwork to get people through to end of the enrollment process and that this includes the interview stage of the application.
If one of the participating Staples stores is convenient to your location then this could be a serious time saver.
Most TSA PreCheck interviews take place at government facilities inside airports and these are generally not particularly close to where most people live and can have long waiting lists for interviews (especially when states of emergency are called for no good reason!).
I have no way of checking what the waitlist is like for my local participating Staples store but based on how bored the IdentoGo employee I spoke to looked I’m going to go ahead and guess that there is no waitlist at all. Contrast that to the LAX TSA facility where the waitlists have been up to 6 months long up until recently and you’ll see why this may be a worthwhile option to consider.