Can You Pass a TSA Background Check With a Misdemeanor? Yes.

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | June 4, 2024

Man in a suit has his hand on his chin while looking at a background heck with a misdemeanor musing can you pass a TSA background check with a misdemeanor while in the background an airport and landing plane can be seen.

When applying for a position with the Transportation Security Administration, many people wonder can you pass a TSA background check with a misdemeanor?

The answer is yes, but like with any government employment background check, there is a bit of a catch.

Although it is technically possible to pass the check with a misdemeanor, not all misdemeanors will be overlooked.

The first thing to do when wondering whether you can pass a background investigation even with a misdemeanor on your record is to find out if it shows up on your federal records.

Once you know for sure, then you can check the following guide to see if it will disqualify you from TSA employment.

TSA Background Check for Employment: What Does the TSA Background Check Look For?

The Transportation Security Administration or TSA is an agency that anyone who has flown on an airplane will certainly be familiar with.3 Although many people think of the TSA strictly as airport security, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the agency does.

The TSA is essentially in charge of any safety in regard to anything related to travel. This most notably includes air travel and security in order to prevent terrorist attacks that target commercial flights. However, road travel security is another form of security that the TSA is heavily involved in, especially when it comes to transporting hazardous materials.

Since the TSA is a security agency, they have one of the most rigorous employee background checks in the country. Although many people may have undergone a background check as a condition for employment, the background check performed by the federal government and federal government agencies is far more thorough and intensive than the checks performed by private background check providers.

Namely, the list of disqualifiers on a background screening for a federal job is lengthy.

The federal government background check is different from most private checks because of the reason that employees are screened. While a private employer will screen employees in order to limit risk and prevent potential lawsuits down the road, the federal government performs background checks to ensure that no one who could be a potential threat to national security is hired.

Rather than look for background check information that could cost a company money, a TSA background check will look for anything that indicates the individual may be a threat to national security if given access to certain information. What constitutes a risk will vary widely based on the information that is found but anything that indicates low trustworthiness or integrity will be a major red flag, even if it is seemingly unrelated to the job duties.

This means that even the lowest level of federal jobs have intensive background checks. However, like all businesses, different agencies in the federal government have different background check practices based on the duties of the job position. For example, someone who works at a post office won’t need several months of reference checks since they simply won’t have access to any information that could be potentially harmful to national security.

With that being said, the TSA is towards the top when it comes to the intensity of the background checks performed on employees by different government agencies. Only agencies such as the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, etc. will have more intensive background checks and stricter hiring practices than the TSA.

TSA Background Check Process: What Kind of Background Check Does TSA Do?

The TSA background check process is fairly similar to the background checks performed by all jobs in the federal government. The background check is primarily performed by the United States Office of Personnel Management which acts similar to the way an HR department would work at a private business,7 but plays this role for anyone employed directly by the federal government.

Although the OPM is in charge of background checks, many of the specific checks will be carried out by the FBI. The FBI will be involved in every single federal background check, including the TSA background check because they are the agency that is in charge of criminal history information. Criminal history information is not the only aspect of the federal background check, but it is often seen as the most important and is generally the first check performed.

The federal criminal history check that is performed by the FBI is known as an Identity History Summary Check and includes the following checks:10

  • Local Criminal History Check
  • State Level Criminal History Check
  • National Criminal History Check
  • Federal Criminal History Check

The above checks are not the only checks performed by the FBI during a TSA background check and should be seen as the bare minimum of information that will be checked. The criminal history check is also a fingerprint-based check, as opposed to the name-based check that most private background check companies will perform. Although this kind of check takes longer it is far more effective at finding any and all information that is related to an individual than a name-based check.

How To Pass TSA Background Check (Can You Pass a TSA Background Check With a Misdemeanor?)

Passing a TSA background check is fairly simple and requires very little action on the part of the employee. Besides being truthful on every single document that needs to be submitted, being upfront about any criminal history will also improve the individual’s chances of passing. Although not all crimes will be an automatic disqualification, lying about a past crime and letting it come to light as a result of the criminal history check will almost certainly result in disqualification.

A great proactive step to take to help pass a TSA background check, or any background check, is to perform a background check on yourself. There are tons of ways to do this and many can be done extremely quickly.

A great place to start is to find an online background check service to perform the check for you. Most services will require a fee so using the free search at the top of this page is a great option for individuals looking to get a free check performed very quickly.

Another option is to pay to have a proper federal background check performed on yourself, this can be a great way to get an idea of what kind of information will turn up on the eventual TSA background check so that individuals can be prepared to answer any questions about their criminal history.

Aside from simply being aware of the information that will be uncovered during a background check, performing a background check on yourself also allows individuals to find any mistakes in their background checks. Mistakes on background checks happen all the time for different reasons so performing a check early gives individuals plenty of time to fix their background check instead of failing an official check and having to go through the trouble of appealing the results with the OPM.

How To Submit a TSA Background Check Application & How To Check TSA Background Check Status

The TSA background check application is submitted during the application process.4 Generally, there is no separate application that needs to be filled out in order to have a background check performed. Instead, any background check information, such as details on the fingerprinting process, will be provided on the application itself.

Keep in mind that federal background checks can take weeks or even months in certain cases depending on the position that is being applied for. So there is no reason to get discouraged if there is no speedy response.

People with questions like “Can you pass a TSA background check with a misdemeanor may be concerned that failing the background check is the reason they have not heard back. However, the FCRA requires that all employers who perform background checks give a written reason for the failure of a background check.9

This means that regardless of whether or not the background check was passed, the employer is required by law to notify the applicant of the outcome of the check.

TSA Clearance for Employment: What TSA Security Clearance Level Is Required?

Many jobs in the federal government require security clearance as a condition of employment. The records check for a security clearance will start with the standard FBI background check but will also require the applicant to pass numerous other checks such as reference checks, integrity tests, and other various verifications.

TSA Security Clearance Requirements (TSA Security Clearance Level)

The level of security clearance required at the TSA varies all the way up to the highest level of security clearance. Since the TSA deals with national security, the highest levels of management in the TSA will have access to highly sensitive information that could cause a major national security issue if in the wrong hands.

However not every job in the TSA will require the highest level of clearance, most jobs will require minimal security clearance. Keep in mind that unlike some government agencies which do not require security clearance of any kind, virtually all jobs with the TSA will require some level of clearance.

TSA Background Check Requirements

The background check required to work with the TSA is no different than many federal background checks. As mentioned, there are slightly more checks due to the nature of the work but there are currently no TSA-specific background check requirements that are not required by other agencies of equal security level.

TSA Background Check Disqualifications (TSA Clearance for Employment)

The TSA currently has two different background check disqualifier lists published on their website. There is some overlap as one list is the disqualifiers for any positions in the federal government and the other is specific to working with the TSA.1

Screenshot of TSA website page for employment self-assessment for applicants with yellow arrows pointing to the list of financial issues and criminal offenses disqualifiers for applicants.
The federal government list is far less thorough than what many people will expect. However, the disqualifiers listed are not the only things that will prevent you from getting a job with the government and instead acts as a baseline of offenses that indicate the minimum requirements. Most of the offenses on this list will come as absolutely no surprise such as being convicted of treason, terrorist acts, sedition, and conspiracy to commit any of these crimes.

The list that applies specifically to employees of the TSA is far more detailed. This list outlines all of the crimes that will result in automatic disqualification such as conviction of crimes involving extortion, theft, robbery, arson, etc. There is also a list of financial crimes that will be grounds for disqualification such as having more than $7,500 in delinquent debt.

Despite how strict the TSA and similar agencies are when it comes to hiring, the form does specifically indicate that the crimes will only be cause for disqualification if the conviction occurred in the last 10 years. Of course, this doesn’t mean that individuals who committed a serious crime more than 10 years ago will be hired, and most of the crimes will still cause the individual to be dismissed from consideration for the position.

Can You Pass a TSA Background Check With a Felony?

It is possible but highly unlikely to pass a TSA background check with a felony. Even if the felony is not specifically listed as a disqualifier, this type of information tends to be considered low integrity and will be seen as a huge red flag.

Can You Pass a TSA Background Check Misdemeanor?

Individuals wondering: Can you pass a TSA background check with a misdemeanor? Will be happy to hear that doing so is completely possible.

As mentioned, the main thing that the TSA is looking for is trustworthiness and integrity. When it comes to low-level crimes, being honest and explaining what steps are being taken to move past the crime will go a long way. Keep in mind that misdemeanors that relate directly to the job duties will be hard to overlook.

How Long Does TSA Background Check Take for Employment?

What is the timeline for a federal records check to be completed? Many individuals will be surprised at how long a TSA background check takes. Whilst most background checks are completed in just days, federal checks take much longer.

At a minimum, a federal check will take about two weeks to complete. For jobs that require a security clearance, such as those with the TSA, the process can take weeks to months to complete.

How Far Back Does a TSA Background Check Go?

Curious about the extent of a federal background investigation? There are no federal laws that limit how far a TSA or federal background check can go. This means that an individual’s entire criminal history will be present on the check.

A common misconception is that certain crimes will not be present on background checks if enough time has elapsed. However, this only applies in states that have specific laws regarding how long certain information is considered public. The FBI and the federal government as a whole are not subject to these state laws.

TSA Precheck Eligibility Requirements: Can You Pass a TSA Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

The TSA precheck is a program growing in popularity as it allows individuals a quicker path through airport security. The eligibility requirements are fairly simple and the TSA has a defined list of disqualifying offenses on their website.2 All of the offenses are fairly extreme and will not be anything that most individuals will need to worry about.

Screenshot of TSA website page for disqualifying offenses with yellow arrow pointing to a list of interim disqualifying criminal offenses.
Individuals who ask: Can you pass a TSA Background Check with a misdemeanor? Can rest easy as there are no misdemeanor offenses listed.

TSA Background Check Cost

There are a few different costs associated with the various background checks performed by the TSA:

  • The pre-employment background check is completely free for any TSA applicants.
  • TWIC background checks are $67 for first-time applicants and $86.50 thereafter
  • The TSA pre-check cost is $85 and includes the cost of the background check.

How Long Does TSA Pre-Check Last?

TSA pre-check membership lasts a full 5 years from the purchase date, making it a great asset for individuals who fly frequently.

What Happens With a Failed TSA Background Check

There is very little that can be done after failing a TSA background check. Depending on the reason for the failure, filing an appeal with the employer or with the OPM may be the best course of action but appeals generally have a very low success rate.

E-QIP Background Check Failed

Contacting the OPM with any issues regarding E-QIP is usually the best course of action. E-QIP is a fairly new program aimed at speeding up the security clearance process and is known to have several issues that can result in an undeserved failure of a background check.

TSA Background Check for Hazmat

In order to legally transport certain hazardous materials, individuals must apply for a Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC) with the TSA.5 The process is fairly simple and involves a fingerprint-based background check.

How Far Back Does a TWIC Background Check Go?

What’s the extent of a TWIC records check? A TWIC background check is often required for individuals who are transporting hazardous materials. The background check is performed through the TSA and is similar to the federal employment check. Individuals can expect their checks to be completed in 60 days or less.

TSA Hazmat Fingerprinting

The details of the fingerprinting process will be supplied by the TSA at the time of the application. The process generally involves having fingerprints sent to the FBI for a criminal history check and is done electronically at various locations in each county.

Screenshot of State of California website page for TSA HazMat background check with yellow arrow pointing to the process and requirements of obtaining HazMat Endorsement and TSA Security Threat Assessment when applying for or renewing CDL in California.
Applying for a job with a federal agency can be intimidating, especially when it comes to background check. The best thing that individuals asking questions such as: Can you pass a TSA background check with a misdemeanor? can do is to be prepared for any questions about their criminal history.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Pass a Background Check With a Misdemeanor

What Are the DSHS Background Check Disqualifiers?

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has a defined list of disqualifiers on their website.6 Most of the disqualifiers involve violent and sex-realted crimes and apply to convictions rather than charges.

What Are the DCYF Disqualifying Crimes?

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families outlines a very specific list of crimes that are seen as disqualifying.8 Unlike similar lists which only contain conviction information the list also contains information regarding which crimes are permanent disqualifiers opposed to those that will no longer be disqualifiers if certain conditions are met.

How Long Does a Misdemeanor Stay on Your Record?

Generally, a misdemeanor will stay on your record forever. Federal background checks will be able to view an individual’s entire criminal history, regardless of when the crime was committed. The only exception is background checks that are performed in states with specific laws that prohibit certain information from appearing on a background check. Most often these are referred to as 7-year states as crimes older than 7 years can not show up on a background check.

Can You Be Denied Employment for Dismissed Charges?

No, an employer can not cite a dismissed charge that was discovered during a background check as a reason to deny employment. This is part of the reason that the FCRA requires that employers given a written reason for denying employment if the denial was related to a background check.

Can You Pass a Gun Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

It is possible to pass a gun background check with a misdemeanor. Basically, whether or not the check will be passed depends on the misdemeanor and the maximum sentencing for the crime that was committed. Crimes with a punishment of over 1 year in jail will result in failing a gun background check.

Can You Pass a Criminal Background Check With a Misdemeanor?

Yes, most criminal background checks can be passed with a misdemeanor. However, certain misdemeanors are likely to result in a failure. Violent crimes, sex related crimes and any crimes invovling children are likely to cause a background check to be failed.

If You Have a Misdemeanor Can You Pass a Background Check?

Most background checks can be passed with a misdemeanor. When it comes to background checks, only violent misdemeanors or other serious misdemeanors will be seen as an automatic disqualifier. However, if the individual shows no remorse or has made it clear that they have not taken steps to move past the crime, it is unlikely that they will be hired.

What Is the TSA Background Check Time Frame?

The time frame for a TSa background check ranges from 2 weeks to about 9 months. Most jobs will be much closer to two weeks, however any job that requires security clearance will be subject to intensive background check procedures. In particular the reference checks that are performed will often take months to complete.


1Department of Homeland Security. (2011). Self-Assessment for Applicants for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

2Department of Homeland Security. (2022). Disqualifying Offenses and Other Factors. Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

3Department of Homeland Security. (2022). Home. Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

4Department of Homeland Security. (2022). Search TSA Jobs. Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

5Department of Homeland Security. (2022). TWIC. Transportation Security Administration. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

6Disqualifying List of Crimes and Negative Actions. (2022). Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

7Federal Relay Service. (2022). Home. OPM.Gov. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

8Secretary’s List of Crimes and Negative Actions for Child Welfare and Early Learning Providers. (2020). Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

9United States Government. (2022). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

10United States Government. (2022). Identity History Summary Checks. FBI. Retrieved August 23, 2022, from <>

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