Do Children Need To Apply For TSA Precheck® - Complete Adult Guidebook

Travelling with children can be stressful since the little ones won’t stay still and sometimes refuse to listen. So, if you’re at the airport preparing to get on board, good luck getting your children through the security checks and screening processes.

That being said, a TSA PreCheck® membership can save parents and guardians from all that stress and inconvenience. Enjoy the expedited screening, so you can quickly get on that plane in just a few minutes. But do children need to apply for TSA PreCheck®? The following post will answer all your questions.

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Do Children Need To Apply For TSA Precheck®?

It depends on their age and the accompanying guardians’ member status. Photo by Tomsickova -

Children can enjoy an expedited screening when travelling with parents or guardians with a TSA PreCheck® membership. If they travel alone, they need to get a membership for themselves.

To be more specific, according to the US Customs and Border Protection, there are specific rules and regulations on boarding with TSA PreCheck® for children:

  • If the children are under 12, they can join their parents in the TSA PreCheck® lanes. Ensure the parents have the TSA PreCheck® indicator on their boarding pass. You can do this by adding your KTNs to the ticket reservations or contacting the airline directly.
  • Teenagers between 13 and 17 can also enjoy TSA PreCheck® benefits if they travel with parents with active membership. However, it’s not a 100% guarantee. Their tickets may or may not have the TSA PreCheck® indicator appear.
  • And finally, children under the age of 17 and are travelling alone must apply for their own TSA PreCheck® membership. This applies to whether they travel with a member or not.

Children with TSA PreCheck® boarding passes are exempted from screening processes. But there are always chances that airport security will randomly select one of them for random checkups, where they must go through the standard procedures.

What is TSA PreCheck®?

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You can enjoy simplified airport screening with TSA PreCheck®. Photo by Chalabala -

The TSA PreCheck® is a Trusted Traveller program created to help travellers go through the airport screening process faster. Eligible members can use this perk whenever they book a flight that departs from any US airport. It’ll work great for people who travel a lot and would like to save much of their time from standing in the boarding lines or performing regular security checkups.

To apply for TSA PreCheck, you’ll have to meet certain criteria and submit your application along with the required papers and fees. After successfully enrolling in the program, you’ll receive your Known Traveller Number (KTN), which can be used to add your TSA PreCheck® membership to existing or future bookings.

Should You Apply For TSA Precheck®?

Let’s look at the benefits and potential drawbacks of applying for a TSA PreCheck® membership for both children and adults. This will allow you to make better decisions regarding the matter.

Do Children Need To Apply For TSA Precheck - CabinZero

Should everyone apply for TSA Precheck to skip the lines? Photo by Phil Mosley on Unsplash

As Minors

For kids under 12, there is no reason to apply for TSA PreCheck® if they only travel with their parents or guardians who already own an active membership.

Teenagers (13-17 years old) may or may not join the lanes even if accompanied by a member, depending on whether their tickets have the TSA PreCheck® icon. Therefore, they should apply for the programme to enjoy the perks 100% of the time. 

Joining the expedited boarding line means skipping the potential pat-down screening, which can be a problem for kids. And although the TSA has modified this procedure for children of 12 and under, it’s best to avoid having it.

Be mindful that the enrollment process for children can be a little more complicated since they often need help with the questions during offline interviews.

As Parents

For parents, or adults in general, the most noticeable benefit of TSA PreCheck® is the time they can save while travelling. But that’s not all. As parents or guardians, you can allow your kids to join you in the TSA PreCheck® lane. Thus, allowing for the family to quickly get on board.

If you’re okay with the $78 enrollment fee and the $70 renewal fee every five years, this application is always a great option. It’s very worth it, especially if you travel with a toddler and/or fly somewhere 3-4 times a year.

Remember that the membership only works if you start the journey from US airports. So, consider other Trusted Traveller programs if you want more perks.

What About Other Trusted Traveller Programs?

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Don’t forget to consider other Trusted Traveller Programs

Global Entry

According to US Customs and Border Protection, no travel companions can join their partners in the Global Entry lane. So, families with kids should apply their children to the program.

Children under 18 must have their parent or legal guardian’s permission to apply for one. And the guardian doesn’t need to have their Global Entry membership.

The application fee is $100 and non-refundable. Like TSA PreCheck®, applicants must attend an in-person interview at an Enrollment Center. Their parent or legal guardian must also be coming with them.


No matter the age, your children or travel companions must have their own NEXUS pass to earn entry perks from Canada to the US.

Similar to Global Entry, children under 18 who want to participate in the NEXUS program must have the consent of their legal guardian. Afterwards, they must fill out the application form, pay the fee, and join the interview at the designated NEXUS Enrollment Center.


There is no minimum age requirement for a Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) membership.

However, kid travellers must have their own SENTRI card for expedited entry into the US from Mexico or Canada. As a result, the same enrollment procedures are always required.


All FAST members are required to be 18 or above. So, children aren’t eligible to enter this program. Still, parents can consistently apply their kids to any of the above programs if they wish to enjoy similar perks.


Can My Kids Travel Alone With TSA Precheck®?

Do Children Need To Apply For TSA Precheck - CabinZero

You can let your kids travel alone with TSA PreCheck®. Credit: @_Desmond Yip

Yes. If your kids have completed their TSA PreCheck® enrollment, they can travel alone with their own KTNs. Remember that some airlines won’t permit minors under the age of 5 to travel unaccompanied. So, as parents and guardians, you should contact the airlines for further assistance.

Can My Family Members Go With Me Through TSA Precheck®?

It depends on which member we are talking about. If it’s children under the age of 12, then they may join their parents or guardians for free.

Those aged 13 to 17 may join their parents if they are on the same reservation or have the TSA PreCheck® indicator on their boarding passes.

As for other family members above 18, all must apply for their own TSA PreCheck® membership if they want to enjoy the perks.

How Much Does A TSA Precheck® Application Cost?

A TSA PreCheck® application fee will set you back $78. After you’re approved, the membership will last five years. If you wish to renew your membership, the fee is $70.

If you are interested in getting the membership for free, plenty of travel credit cards reimburse TSA PreCheck® payments for eligible members. Feel free to check the following list for more details.

What Are The Application Procedures?

To apply for TSA PreCheck®, you must fill out their online application form and wait for a scheduled appointment at any nearby enrollment centre. Upon showing up, you’ll complete your application by doing background checks and interviews. Also, you must pay the application fee in person at the TSA enrollment centre.

How Long Until My Applications Are Approved?

It depends. Your TSA PreCheck® application may take as little as 3-5 days to complete. However, there are cases when you must wait up to 60 days to get your results. If your record is clean without a history of violations, you will likely get things sped up.

TSA Precheck® For Minors

Children who often travel alone will find the TSA PreCheck® membership most convenient. It’ll allow them to travel most comfortably without going through all the stress in the long waiting lines.

But if your kids rarely travel or always go with you, then it’s better to get yourself a KTN instead. You can always accompany them through the security screening process with your TSA PreCheck® boarding pass. Thus, allowing the family to quickly get on the plane.

Also, consider other Trusted Traveller programs like Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST. If you find our article helpful, please like, comment, and share to spread the love for travelling.

Nguyễn Kim Vương

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