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tsa disability notification card airport security“I have two titanium plates in my foot. How can I ease the process of going through security?” wondered an IndependentTraveler.com reader in a recent e-mail. These days, she’s not the only traveler who’s concerned. Since the highly publicized incident in which a bladder cancer survivor’s urostomy bag was ruptured during a TSA pat-down, leaving him covered in his own urine, travelers with various medical conditions have been worrying about how they can prevent their own nightmarish encounters at airport security.

The TSA has come up with one idea that should help (or so we hope!): new disability notification cards (PDF) that travelers can print, fill out and bring with them to the security checkpoint. The cards have a space to enter information about any relevant health conditions or medical devices, though they also include the following caveat: “Presenting this card does not exempt you from screening.”

I’ve long advised travelers with disabilities or medical devices to bring a doctor’s note (preferably on letterhead) explaining their condition — so I’m glad that the TSA has now introduced an official and discreet way for travelers to educate and inform security screeners. But will this truly put an end to the health-related horror stories we’ve been hearing for the past few months? We’ll have to wait and see.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

16 Responses to “TSA Introduces New Medical Notification Cards for Travelers”

  1. Julie says:

    There is nothing about this on the TSA web site. Please site a more credible source.

  2. Adrienne says:

    Julie appears to be correct, I cannot find this template, even after following the links to disability.gov. I just ended up in a spot that informs me that said cards exist, that TSA produces them, and provides a link back to the TSA website. The “was this information useful” option has 3 “No” responses, and 0 “Yes” responses. Wild goose chase.

  3. Julie says:

    Sarah, I appreciate additional links!

    What bothers me is that the card does not have any official insignia of the TSA or Disability.gov, so you can see why it would seem suspect. I have doubts that it will have any impact with most TSA agents unless there is more information on the TSA website which acknowledges that they are training agents to recognizing the card.

    I’m uncomfortable recommending use of the card for my travelers without either of these issues being addressed.

    • You’re welcome! I agree that it’s strange for the card not to have an official insignia on it, and for the TSA not to be drawing more attention to the card to raise awareness among travelers and agents. I’m not quite sure what the reasoning is there.

      I’m hoping to hear from our readers who have used the card whether TSA agents do indeed recognize it.

      –Sarah

  4. adc says:

    As of my last 2 flights in January 2011, my Medtronics card was still ignored and they kept looking for my belt. I was not given the option to have a private screening. I have a Neural Stimilator with the battery just below my right hip. I wonder if they will even look at the TSA card I downloaded. We will see in a week or so when I next fly.

  5. TSA awareness isn’t that widespread that even major airports still has no existing protocols on screening fliers with disabilities.

  6. john Sanda says:

    I have flown three times the first with none of the TSA info and I was given the full treatment. The second time with some info but still the full treatment. The third time with the cards and another full putdown. The supervisor said I should expect this every time no matter what documents I have. In other words the cards are a joke. I have tried the customer service agent but twice a no show.

  7. Susan says:

    In January of 2015 I received a liver transplant. I now have a surgically implanted tube to drain the bile from the liver. How can I make travelling easier at the security line?

    • Hi Susan,

      We’d recommend bringing a note from your doctor and declaring your tube to the TSA agent as soon as you get to the front of the security line. They may still need to do a pat-down, but having the doctor’s note should help ease things along.

      Happy travels,

      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor
      IndependentTraveler.com

  8. Amy says:

    I found the TSA disability notification card prior to coming to this blog, but wanted to mention that the link you’ve provided is not correct. To access the pdf card for printing, use this link: https://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/disability-notification-card-508-03292016.pdf

    I found a link to the card from the TSA website: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures?field_disability_type_value=1

    As a type 1 diabetic, I have been very fortunate in not having any issues when traveling. Next week, however, will be my first time flying (ie: going through airport security) since getting a continuous glucose monitoring device. I’ll admit that I’m a bit nervous about it. Hoping it all goes smoothly!

  9. Charles Carlson says:

    You have not indicated how I may obtain a Medical Notification Card.

    • Hi Charles,

      There’s a link in the post to the cards. You print them, fill them out and bring them with you to the security checkpoint.

      Happy travels,
      Sarah Schlichter
      Senior Editor
      IndependentTraveler.com

  10. Karen Herman says:

    When I heard that there was such a thing as a TSA notification card, I was disappointed to find out it’s just an online page you fill out and print. It doesn’t look especially official, and I can’t imagine security screeners giving it much credence, since anyone could fill it out and present it at security. You would think that the TSA would set up a procedure which would require a letter from your doctor, after which the TSA would send you a real, official card. And then that card would actually carry weight in terms of helping facilitate the security process. Obviously no one with an actual medical condition was consulted when TSA set up the current “notification card”.

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