What To Do If You Fail A Tsa Background Check

Finding out you failed a TSA background check can be shocking and concerning. If you’re worried about what comes next, this guide will provide comprehensive details on the failed background check process and your options moving forward.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Failing a TSA background check doesn’t necessarily preclude you from eventually passing and working for the TSA. You can appeal the decision or reapply after the specified waiting period.

The most common reasons for failing are criminal convictions, pending charges, or providing false information.

Understanding TSA Background Checks

Before we delve into what to do if you fail a TSA background check, it is important to understand what these checks entail. TSA background checks are conducted to ensure the safety and security of the traveling public.

These checks are a crucial part of the screening process for individuals who work in sensitive positions within the transportation industry, such as pilots, flight attendants, and airport personnel.

When Checks are Conducted

TSA background checks are typically conducted when an individual applies for a job or seeks access to secure areas of an airport. These checks are also conducted periodically to ensure that individuals with access to sensitive areas remain eligible and continue to meet the necessary security standards.

What the Checks Cover

TSA background checks involve a thorough investigation into an individual’s criminal history, employment history, and immigration status. They also include a review of any potential ties to terrorism or terrorist organizations.

The checks may involve fingerprinting and the collection of biometric information, such as photographs.

During the background check process, the TSA may also verify an individual’s identity and conduct interviews with references, employers, and other relevant individuals. The goal is to assess an individual’s trustworthiness, reliability, and suitability for a position of trust within the transportation industry.

Reasons for Failing

There can be various reasons why an individual may fail a TSA background check. Common reasons include a criminal history, including convictions for certain offenses such as terrorism-related activities, drug trafficking, or violent crimes.

Additionally, an individual may fail the check if they have provided false information or have a history of non-compliance with TSA regulations.

It is important to note that failing a TSA background check does not necessarily mean that an individual is a threat to aviation security. The checks are designed to identify any potential risks or vulnerabilities that could compromise the safety of the traveling public.

If you do fail a TSA background check, it is essential to follow the appropriate steps to address the issue and seek resolution. This may involve providing additional documentation, clarifying any discrepancies, or appealing the decision through the appropriate channels.

For more information about TSA background checks and the steps to take if you fail, you can visit the official TSA website at www.tsa.gov. The website provides detailed information and resources to guide individuals through the process and help them understand their rights and options.

Receiving a Fail Notice

Getting a fail notice after a TSA background check can be a frustrating and disappointing experience. However, it is important to stay calm and take the necessary steps to address the issue. Here are some key points to keep in mind if you receive a fail notice:

Timeline for Notification

Once the TSA completes your background check, they will notify you of the results in a timely manner. The exact timeline for notification may vary, but typically it takes a few weeks to receive a fail notice.

It is crucial to check your email regularly during this period as the TSA will communicate with you through the email address provided during the application process.

Details Included

When you receive a fail notice, it will include specific details regarding the reason for the failure. The notice will outline the areas where you did not meet the TSA’s requirements and provide an explanation for the decision.

It is important to carefully review this information to understand why you did not pass the background check.

Next Immediate Steps

After receiving a fail notice, you should take immediate action to address the issue. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Contact the TSA: Reach out to the TSA for further clarification or to discuss the specific reasons for your failure. They may be able to provide additional guidance or suggest any necessary steps to rectify the situation.
  • Review your application: Go through your original application to ensure that all the information provided was accurate and complete. If you find any discrepancies or errors, contact the TSA to correct them.
  • Seek legal advice: In some cases, it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney who specializes in TSA background checks. They can provide guidance on how to proceed and help navigate any legal implications.
  • Appeal the decision: If you believe there has been a mistake or if you have new information that could affect the outcome of the background check, you may have the option to appeal the decision. The fail notice should provide information on the appeals process and any deadlines you need to meet.

Remember, receiving a fail notice does not necessarily mean the end of your TSA background check journey. By following the appropriate steps and seeking guidance when needed, you can work towards resolving the issue and potentially reapplying in the future.

Appealing a Failed TSA Background Check

Discovering that you have failed a TSA background check can be disheartening and frustrating. However, it’s important to remember that you have the option to appeal the decision. Appealing a failed TSA background check allows you to present additional information or evidence that may have been overlooked during the initial review process.

Here is what you need to know about appealing a failed TSA background check.

Grounds for an Appeal

Before deciding to appeal a failed TSA background check, it’s crucial to understand the grounds for an appeal. Generally, you can appeal a failed background check if you believe there was an error in the information used or if you have new information that was not previously considered.

Some common grounds for appeal include:

  • Mistaken identity
  • Inaccurate or outdated information
  • Misinterpretation of records
  • New evidence or documentation

If you believe that any of these grounds apply to your situation, it may be worth considering an appeal.

Appeal Review Process and Timeline

When appealing a failed TSA background check, it’s important to understand the review process and timeline. The exact process may vary depending on the specific circumstances, but generally, the steps involved in the appeal process are as follows:

  1. Submit an appeal letter: Start by writing a formal appeal letter explaining your grounds for appeal and providing any supporting documentation.
  2. Review and investigation: The TSA will review your appeal letter and conduct a thorough investigation into your case.
  3. Additional documentation: If requested, provide any additional documentation or information that may support your appeal.
  4. Decision: The TSA will make a decision based on the information provided during the appeal process.

The timeline for the appeal process can vary, but it is generally recommended to submit your appeal as soon as possible after receiving the notification of a failed background check. This will allow ample time for the TSA to review your case before any deadlines or travel plans.

Appeal Success Rates

While there is no official data available on the success rates of TSA background check appeals, it is important to remain hopeful and persistent throughout the process. It’s worth noting that success rates can vary depending on the individual circumstances of each case.

To improve your chances of a successful appeal, consider the following tips:

  • Submit a well-written appeal letter that clearly outlines your grounds for appeal.
  • Provide any relevant supporting documentation or evidence to strengthen your case.
  • Follow all instructions provided by the TSA and ensure timely submission of any requested documents.
  • Consider seeking legal advice or assistance if you believe it may be beneficial to your case.

Remember, the outcome of your appeal will ultimately depend on the specific details of your situation. Stay positive and proactive throughout the process, and don’t hesitate to reach out for assistance if needed.

Reapplying after a Failed Check

If you fail a TSA background check, there are steps you can take to reapply and potentially pass the next time around. Understanding the reapplication process and the policies in place can help you navigate the situation more effectively.

Waiting Periods

After failing a TSA background check, there is usually a waiting period before you can reapply. This waiting period can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the severity of the issues that led to the failure.

It is important to check with the TSA or the specific program you are applying for to determine the length of the waiting period. During this time, it is advisable to address any issues that may have caused the initial failure, such as resolving outstanding legal matters or addressing any discrepancies in your personal records.

Conditional Reapplication

In some cases, individuals who fail a TSA background check may be eligible for conditional reapplication. This means that certain conditions or requirements must be met before their application can be reconsidered.

These conditions may include additional documentation, completion of a rehabilitation program, or obtaining character references. It is important to carefully review the conditional reapplication guidelines provided by the TSA or the specific program to ensure that you meet all the necessary criteria.

Application Refusal Policy

The TSA has a policy in place regarding the refusal of applications after a failed background check. This policy outlines the reasons for application refusal and the steps individuals can take to address the issues and potentially reapply in the future.

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with this policy to understand the specific steps you need to take if your application is refused. The policy may provide guidance on how to resolve any outstanding issues and improve your chances of a successful reapplication.

Remember, failing a TSA background check does not necessarily mean the end of your career or travel plans. It is important to stay informed, address any issues that may have contributed to the failure, and follow the proper procedures for reapplication.

By taking these steps, you can increase your chances of passing the background check and achieving your goals.

Seeking Legal Recourse

If you fail a TSA background check and believe it was unjust or erroneous, you may have options for seeking legal recourse. This can help you challenge the decision and potentially clear your name. Here are some avenues you can explore:

Discrimination Claims

If you suspect that you were discriminated against during the background check process, you may be able to file a discrimination claim. The TSA is committed to ensuring fair and equal treatment for all applicants, and any form of discrimination is taken seriously.

To pursue this route, you will need to gather evidence to support your claim, such as instances of differential treatment or biased decision-making.

It’s important to note that discrimination claims can be complex and require legal expertise. Consulting with an attorney who specializes in employment law can greatly enhance your chances of success. They can guide you through the process, help you gather evidence, and advocate on your behalf.

Negligent Records Disputes

In some cases, a failed TSA background check may be due to inaccurate or outdated information in your records. If you suspect that this is the case, you can dispute the accuracy of the records with the relevant agencies.

Contacting the appropriate agencies and providing evidence to support your claim can help rectify any errors or discrepancies.

If your dispute with the records agency is unresolved, you may consider filing a lawsuit against them. However, it’s important to consult with an attorney to assess the viability of your case and understand the legal processes involved.

Hiring an Attorney

Regardless of the specific legal recourse you choose to pursue, hiring an attorney with experience in employment law can be highly beneficial. They will have the knowledge and expertise to navigate the complexities of the legal system and provide you with the best possible representation.

When selecting an attorney, look for someone who has a proven track record in handling similar cases. Seek recommendations from trusted sources or professional organizations. Additionally, many attorneys offer free initial consultations, allowing you to discuss your situation and evaluate whether they are the right fit for your needs.

Remember, seeking legal recourse is not a guarantee of a favorable outcome, but it can provide you with a fair chance to challenge the TSA’s decision and protect your rights.


Getting the news that you failed a TSA background check can be difficult. But you still have options, whether that involves appealing, reapplying down the road, or seeking legal solutions. Understanding the failed check process provides the knowledge needed to make informed choices.

There are still paths forward to potentially join the TSA someday.

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