Hey there fellow travelers and welcome to my post where I will try and answer a question that I am often asked – how do I reset a TSA combination lock? In the whirlwind of travel preparations, amidst the countless passwords and access codes we juggle daily, it’s easy to forget one crucial combination – the one protecting your TSA lock.

Reset a TSA Combination Lock - Header

These locks offer a secure solution for safeguarding your luggage while ensuring that TSA officers can perform their necessary security checks. However, the moment that elusive combination slips from memory, it can feel like a daunting hurdle to overcome – or to try and out it politely – a real pain in the…

What is a TSA lock?

A TSA (Transportation Security Administration) lock is a special type of lock designed for travel purposes. It allows travelers to secure their luggage with a combination of their choice while providing TSA officials with a master key to access the lock if needed.

Here’s how it works

When you use a TSA lock on your suitcase, you set the combination code yourself. If a TSA agent needs to inspect your luggage because they notice something suspicious on the X-ray scanner, they can use their master key to open the lock without damaging it or your bag. This helps prevent the need for cutting the lock or the bag itself, which could result in damage to your belongings.

While some suitcases come with built-in TSA locks, you can also purchase TSA-approved locks separately.

TSA-approved suitcases - TSA lock on suitcase

Check out these: 3 Best TSA Locks for Travel

Is a TSA lock necessary?

Is a TSA lock necessary?

No, but if you are traveling into, or within the United States then I would highly recommend having them. As above, they provide both security and compliance and allow TSA officers to maintain security without causing any damage. Put simply, if your lock is not fitted with a TSA master key port, then the inspecting officer will simply just cut it off.

Additionally, in recent times, many countries such as Canada, Japan, Israel, Finland, Austria and South Korea have strict security measures in place, often requiring access to luggage without the owner’s presence to ensure no prohibited items are present. To do this, they have also implemented the use of TSA locks.

Steps to Reset a TSA Combination Lock

Ok, so let’s run through the steps to reset a TSA combination lock below:

Method 1: Guess Your Combination

Some TSA-approved lock producers suggest a method where you try each combination ranging from 000 to 999. While it may sound a bit tedious, it’s one of the easiest methods to use, and it doesn’t require any special tools or techniques.

  • Start by setting your lock dials to 000 (the default combination).
  • Then, begin systematically working your way through the combinations, starting from 001 and going all the way up to 999.
  • Test each combination by trying to open the lock.
  • This method might take some time, and it’s a trial-and-error process, but it can be effective, and some people have successfully used it to regain access to their TSA locks. Just be patient and persistent, as it may take a little while to go through all the possible combinations.

Hint: to save time, start with numbers that you usually use

Reset a TSA Combination Lock - lock on pink suitcase

Method 2: Opening and Resetting a TSA Lock

If you want to open your TSA lock and reset the combination, here’s a straightforward method:

  • Apply Pressure: Start by putting pressure on the locking mechanism. This typically involves either pushing the lock’s button (if it has one) or pulling on the shackle (the U-shaped part of the lock).
  • Turn the Dials: Begin turning the first dial slowly while maintaining the pressure on the locking mechanism. Listen closely for an audible click as you turn the dial. This click indicates that you’ve found the correct number for the first position.
  • Repeat for Other Dials: Continue the same process for the next two dials. Apply pressure and turn each dial slowly until you hear a click. Each click signifies that you’ve found the correct number for that specific position.
  • Unlock Your TSA Lock: Once you’ve correctly identified the numbers for all three positions, the lock will open. You can now access your belongings.
  • Reset the Combination (Optional): If you wish to change the combination, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific TSA lock model. Typically, this involves setting the dials to the desired new combination and securing it following the provided guidelines.

This method allows you to open your TSA lock and, if desired, reset the combination to a new one. Just be patient and methodical as you turn the dials, listening for the clicks that indicate the correct numbers.

Method 3: Resetting the Combination When the Lock is Unlocked

If you’ve forgotten your TSA lock combination and the lock is currently in the open or unlocked position, you can reset the combination using the following steps:

  1. Set the Dial – Begin by setting the dial to 000.
  2. Turn the Shackle – Turn the shackle (the U-shaped part of the lock) perpendicularly away from the locked position.
  3. Push the Shackle – After turning the shackle, push it down so that it is positioned outside of the lock.
  4. Put Desired Combination – Now, input the new combination that you want to set for your lock.
  5. Pull the Shackle – Pull the shackle of your lock back up to its original position.
  6. Turn It Back – Finally, turn the shackle back to where it was initially, which is the lock position.


And there they are, my tips resetting a TSA combination lock. Let know how this article helped you, and as usual, also of your experiences here.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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