TSA Pre-Check Children & Family Rules [2019]

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TSA Pre-Check is one of the best investments that I’ve ever made. It’s saved me tons of time and stress over the past few years when making my way through airport security. You might be wondering if TSA Pre-Check applies to kids when traveling with families — do children get to access to the Pre-Check line even if they don’t have TSA Pre-Check on their boarding pass? 

In this article, I’ll give you the answer and tell you everything you need to know about TSA Pre-Check children & family rules. 


What is TSA Pre-Check?

TSA Pre-Check is a program that costs $85 to join and allows approved passengers to go through a separate security screening process that is less demanding than the security screening open to the public.

You often only have to pass through a traditional metal detector (as opposed to the invasive full-body scanners) and you also get to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Shoes can stay on
  • Belt can stay on
  • Light jackets can stay on
  • Laptops allowed to stay in bag
  • Liquids (3-1-1) can stay in bag


What are the TSA Pre-Check children rules? 

Children that are 12 years or younger can use the TSA Pre-Check lane when traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA Pre-Check issued on a boarding pass. However, kids that are 13 years older must have TSA Pre-Check on their own boarding pass in order to use the TSA Pre-Check lane.

TSA states the following:

Children ages 12 and younger may use the TSA Pre® lane when traveling with a parent or guardian who has the indicator on their boarding pass. Travelers 13 and older who do not have a TSA Pre® boarding pass must go through standard security lanes or apply.

Something to keep in mind is that this policy does not apply to children when using Global Entry. If you are not aware, Global Entry is a special program that offers expedited entry back into the US when going through immigration and customs. (If you are approved for Global Entry, you also get TSA Pre-Check, so that is why people prioritize getting Global Entry versus just applying for TSA Pre-Check.) 

But when it comes to Global Entry, children can’t piggy back of their parents. 

Customs and Border Protection state the following:

Membership benefits for any of our programs do not extend to traveling companions, including minors.  Therefore, any child, regardless of age must be a member to use the any of the Trusted Traveler Programs.  

The minor in question will be forced to undergo an interview in order to get approved for Global Entry. A parent or legal guardian must be present at the time of the child’s required interview at an enrollment center. To find out more about how those interviews work, you can click here. 

In addition to the interview, the minor will need to supply fingerprints and a passport and children under 18 must pay the $100 application fee for Global Entry. 

And not to confuse you any further but there are other Trusted Traveler Programs that don’t require minors to pay fees. Children under 18 do not pay an application fee for NEXUS and minor applicants of SENTRI who are linked to their parent’s accounts will also not pay an application fee.


TSA Pre-Check and spouses

Your spouse cannot accompany you through the TSA Pre-Check lane, unless they have their own boarding pass with TSA Pre-Check.


TSA Pre-Check and unaccompanied minors

Unaccompanied minors will not automatically be given TSA Pre-Check. However, it is possible to have the guardian or an agent at the airport accompany the minor through airport security. If you would like to read more about an unaccompanied minor policy click here.


Are there age limits when applying for TSA Pre-Check?

Believe it or not there or no age limits for applying for TSA Pre-Check. Obviously, if your children are under 12 years old there is no need to apply for it and you will probably want to wait until they are closer to 13 years old. It is not very difficult to get a free credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry using credit cards so I would always consider that route.


Final word

I do not think that it is worth it to get your children to enroll in TSA Pre-Check unless they are near the age of 13 years old. That is because as long as you have TSA Pre-Check and you get that issued on your boarding pass, they may accompany you through the TSA Pre-Check lane. Once the children get closer to 13 years old, then you want to think about getting the TSA Pre-Check and I would recommend you to go the Global Entry route so that they would be covered all around.

UponArriving has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. UponArriving and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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