As a part of the security team here at TAD PGS, certain aspects of a security clearance have become like second nature to me. But I realize that it may not be like that for many of you, so this posting contains some frequently asked questions and answers to questions that I and my security colleagues have received from time to time. These questions are really just scratching the surface.

1. What does it take to get a security clearance?

You must be in a position or offered a position that requires a clearance. You are also required to be a US citizen. The employer will have you complete an eQIP (SF86) and you will need to be finger printed. Once those documents are completed your employer will submit your paperwork to the government for processing.

2. If I held a clearance with another agency couldn’t I use that in the DoD world?

Reciprocity is when you have a clearance with one agency and it is accepted by another agency. All of the agencies have separate systems. If this situation applies to you, you need to notify your employer of which agency currently holds your clearance and they can submit a request through DoD. The DoD will make the decision in regards to reciprocity.

3. How long will it take to receive my clearance?

It really all depends. It depends on the level of clearance you have applied for and on your background (ie. Number of jobs held, number of places lived, etc.). It has been estimated that the average wait time for final clearance is 4-6 months. However, some will be granted quicker and some will take longer. It is really a case by case situation.

4. How long is my clearance good for?

Top Secret clearances require re-investigation every 5 years and Secret every 10 years, but you must continually be employed in a position that requires your clearance. If your position changes and does not require a clearance it may be reinstated if the break in service is less than 24 months. Your clearance can be reinstated by DoD once your position requires it again.

5. What is the difference between an “Active”, “Current”, and “Expired” clearance?

• An “active” clearance is one in which the candidate is presently eligible for access to classified information.

• A “current” or reinstatable clearance is one in which a candidate has been determined eligible for access but is not currently authorized without a reinstatement.  A candidate has two years to remain on a “current” status before moving to an “expired” status.

• An “expired” clearance is one that has not been used in more than two years and cannot be reinstated without a new investigation.  Once sponsored, the candidate must resubmit a clearance application and go through a new investigation to have access.  Individuals with expired clearances cannot be considered for jobs that require active or current clearances.

For more information of the clearance process please visit the DSS website at:

*Written in conjunction with Tiffany Hanson, FSO TAD PGS.