Category: Travel tips
Author: Michael DeFranceschi • Updated

CLEAR NextGen Identity +: A Traveler Explains Everything You Need to Know!

No more kiosks! CLEAR members will only use their face for identification going forward.
CLEAR kiosks at the Evans Terminal in DTW with a banner informing travelers of CLEAR NextGen Identity+.

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On November 17th, 2023, the very day I first published this article, is when I received an email from CLEAR notifying me about their new CLEAR NextGen Identity+ program.

Email CLEAR members receive when being asked to upgrade to CLEAR NextGen Identity+.
The email you will receive to upgrade if you are enrolled in CLEAR Plus.

The CLEAR lane is about to change! The company is revamping how their whole futuristic system for travelers' identification verification operates starting on November 30, 2023.

No more kiosks! The new process for CLEAR members is that only their face will be scanned for identfication going forward. No longer will the previous biometric methods of fingerprints nor retinas be used to complete this process.

Here is what you need to know: if you have CLEAR Plus, you have to upgrade to CLEAR NextGen Identity+.

Fortunately, it is a free upgrade to obtain CLEAR NextGen Identity+.

Author selfie at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
To break up this wall of text, enjoy a selfie of me at the airport in Atlanta!

The upgrade to NextGen Identity+ is composed of two steps.

First, to upgrade, you will receive an email with a unique link which will prompt you to create a one-time password to verify your phone number. Once the phone number is verified, you will receive instructions on the next steps.

The second and last step to upgrading is you will have to bring a valid form of identification (e.g. passport, state ID, unexpired driver's license) the next time you go to the airport. Obviously, you'll only need to show the physical form of identification once, as this would otherwise completely defeat the point of CLEAR.

The above mentioned step should only take a couple minutes, according to a CLEAR spokesperson. In their words, "The one-time upgrade process will take just an extra minute or two at a Clear Enrollment Pod to avoid not affecting the Clear verification lane or wait times for travelers."

You might be wondering why CLEAR needs to check ID again if they already have it on file from when you first registered. I thought this too. A spokeperson for CLEAR says, "This enhanced standard builds on our multi-factor enrollment process and now includes data directly from the issuing source."

That being said, as of August 2023, the U.S Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been doing random valid identification checks on those with CLEAR. I have personally never been selected. I hear it's rare but, frankly, I think this, again as mentioned, undermines the purpose of CLEAR.

On December 1, 2023, I received an email that states once you complete the step of showing CLEAR your ID that you will receive an email indicating you successfully upgraded.

On December 30, 2023, I completed my registration at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County airport since I was flying to Minneapolis for the weekend.

As promised, completing the enrollment process took about two minutes. A CLEAR representative had me scan my eyes, show my driver's license, and then scan my eyes again. Shortly after, I received an email confirming I was fully signed up!

Email CLEAR members receive after they complete the in-person step enrolling for CLEAR NextGen Identity +.
The email you will receive once you're fully signed up!

Theoretically, the usage of facial recognition should speed things up at security checkpoints even further. The moment I experience this, I promise to give you all my opinion on the matter as to whether it actually streamlines things more.

One concern I have: how will the facial recognition scan work with identical twins? Guess we'll have to find out and hear testimonies from identical twins!

When will you and I see this change implemented? Some travelers may experience it sooner than others. Changes will commence at the end of November and progress into 2024.

Inside SLC airport.
Random picture of Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

If you do not have CLEAR, I will give you a quick rundown of it here. For a thorough breakdown, I encourage you to check out my in-depth article on CLEAR here.

CLEAR's website describes its latest upgrade as "the highest fidelity digital identity, unlocking physical and digital experiences for our Members in the airport and beyond."

CLEAR is designed to substantially reduce the amount of time you spend at airport security. Instead of having to show your identification everytime, CLEAR uses biometric data to verify who you are. Once your identity is verified, you advance to a much shorter security line.

The signup process is the same as described above. If you don't want to scroll back up, it's these two steps: 1) sign up online and 2) show your ID at a "CLEAR enrollment center", which will just be whichever airport closest to you has CLEAR.

Currently, CLEAR is available at 53 airports throughout the United States. If you fly out of a large international airport, there is a good chance they have CLEAR. Here is the complete list of airports where you can find CLEAR.

For a far less intrusive and even quicker security check, get TSA PreCheck®. The best parts of it are you'll be able to keep your shoes on and will not have to remove laptops from their carrying case.

Global Entry members in the US get TSA PreCheck® freely included. If you don't have CLEAR yet, it may be worth for you to sign up so you can further speed up the process of leaving the US.

CLEAR costs $189 annually for an individual. There are some ways you can get it discounted-- or even free.

CLEAR is a privately owned company who operates mainly in the United States. They have very limited presence in Canada and Europe. In the United States, the company has 16 million registered users.


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