TSA PreCheck – What You Need to Know and How to Apply (2024)

If you haven’t heard, TSA PreCheck for kids has gotten easier! We’ve been using it now for several years and see the benefit. I’ve certainly noticed the uptick in passengers using the expedited security lines at the airport. We feel it’s been worth the investment for the amount of time we spend at airports.

But what is TSA PreCheck, and how do you get it? And how does it work with minors, especially with the new policy? I’ll answer all your questions on TSA PreCheck for minors in this post. If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet, here’s what you need to know about TSA PreCheck.

TSA PreCheck What You Need to Know - Kids Are A Trip

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What is TSA PreCheck?

TSA stands for the Transportation Security Administration. TSA PreCheck is a Trusted Traveler program that allows pre-screened individuals to use special security lanes at US airports, called the TSA PreCheck lanes. It’s a must for frequent travelers.

With your 5-year membership, you’ll enjoy the benefit of avoiding regular security lines and getting to your gate faster! That means you don’t have to remove items such as belts, shoes, and light jackets. You can also leave laptops and travel-sized liquids inside carry-on bags.

Where can I enroll for TSA Precheck?

TSA PreCheck isn’t available at every airport, but it is available at 250 U.S. airports and counting. Click here to find a location near you.

How does the TSA application process work?

The process has a couple of steps. To start, you apply on the TSA website using this form. The whole online application process is fairly self-explanatory. Once it’s complete, you’ll be able to schedule an in-person appointment.

TSA PreCheck sign

Within 45 days of completing your online pre-enrollment form, you’re required to visit an application center (locations can be found here).

You will need to provide your biographic information including your name, date of birth, and address. You’ll also be fingerprinted and have your photo taken.

What are the necessary documents for TSA PreCheck?

Wondering what to bring to a TSA PreCheck appointment? You can find out about all the required documents needed for TSA PreCheck here. But it’s pretty straightforward:

  1. Valid ID: Make sure to bring a government-issued ID, such as a passport, or a driver’s license and birth certificate. Double-check the IDs are not expired.
  2. Appointment Confirmation: Bring the appointment confirmation with you.
  3. Payment: You’ll need to pay for your TSA PreCheck application during the appointment. This is good for 5 years.
  4. Proof of Citizenship/Immigration Status: If you’re not a US citizen, you’ll need to bring the necessary documentation to prove your immigration status or a permanent resident.

The non-refundable application processing fee of $78 can be paid through these acceptable forms of payment:

  • credit card
  • money order
  • certified/cashier’s check

Cash and personal checks aren’t accepted.

Airplane NYC background

What is a KTN?

After completing the application process, successful PreCheck applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) via US mail in approximately 2-3 weeks.

You may also check the status of your application on the TSA PreCheck website by clicking on “Check My Service Status.”

Once issued, your Known Traveler Number (KTN) is valid for 5 years. You won’t receive a card to carry, but simply a letter with your KTN. Moving forward, you’ll need to provide this number when booking travel reservations.

How to Get TSA Precheck and Global Entry for Free

Several travel credit cards will reimburse your TSA PreCheck fees (and even Global Entry fees). For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card, and Capital One Venture Card all offer reimbursement via a statement credit for TSA fees.

Now that you have your Known Traveler Number (KTN), what happens next?

When you travel, you’ll want to make sure the airline you’re flying has your KTN in advance. It must be printed on your travel documents. If you belong to a frequent flier program, go on the airline’s website and enter your KTN in their system.

Note that this doesn’t automatically populate every time you book a reservation. So, you’ll want to make sure that it is documented going forward each and every time.

What about TSA Precheck for minors?

So, let’s get to why you’re really here: TSA precheck for kids. It’s pretty straightforward but with a few caveats.

Do children need a TSA PreCheck membership?

Previously, if the whole family wanted to go through TSA PreCheck, those 13 years old and older needed to have their own membership. Thankfully, TSA PreCheck with teens has just gotten easier.

As of May 2023, the TSA PreCheck age has increased to include children of all ages (up to 18 years). That is, as long as they’re accompanied by an eligible parent or guardian. That means your five-year membership applies to all of your kids too!

child walking through airport

Just like before, children between 2- and 12-years-old just have to be accompanied by a legal guardian enrolled in the program, no matter what. Kids between 13 and 17 years old just need to be on the same reservation as the accompanying adult.

For teens, just double-check to confirm that the TSA PreCheck indicator shows up on both your boarding pass and your teen’s boarding pass.

This new policy has really streamlined the process since most children don’t have a government photo unless it’s on a passport or a state-issued ID. Our children have passports, so we never had an issue.

Can my child use my TSA PreCheck for international travel?

You can use TSA PreCheck from any participating airlines at over 250 airports across the country, and this includes for international travel.

However, if you’re a frequent traveler abroad, you might want to also consider getting Global Entry. You’re eligible if you fly internationally at least 4 times a year. It gives you the benefit of expedited customs when coming back to the US.

As frequent international travelers, we invested in getting each of our kids their own membership, which has a similar policy to TSA Pre-Check.

TSA PreCheck is just one of four Trusted Traveler programs offered by the Department of Homeland Security. To find more information about the other programs such as Global Entry, you can read this comparison chart.

But what about an unaccompanied minor?

All minors traveling without TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents or guardians will need to apply for themselves.

Can I use my TSA PreCheck membership to take my child to their departure gate?

Let’s say your minor is a first-time traveler and you want to take them all the way to their departure gate. First, you’ll need to pick up a gate pass at the ticket counter when you arrive at the airport. But something to keep in mind is that gate passes cancel out TSA PreCheck benefits.

Holiday Airport Tips for Families

So, even if you’re a gate pass holder with your own TSA PreCheck membership, you’ll have to go through standard security lines. Your child will be able to go through TSA PreCheck screening, but you’ll still have to go through standard security screening.

Have you thought about TSA PreCheck for kids? Do you think it’s worth it?

So, now you know all the details about the updated policy on TSA PreCheck for kids and how to get your own membership. You’ll love the TSA PreCheck benefits! A faster precheck line means less of a headache on your way to your family vacation.

Especially during a busy summer season, the last thing you and your kids want to worry about is congested airport security checkpoints! As TSA PreCheck passengers, you can skip the frustration of standard screening and get right to enjoying your travels!

If you still have more questions, you can find a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers here: TSA PreCheck