TSA PreCheck – What You Need to Know and How to Apply (2023)

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

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!

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 PreCheckSaveSave


  1. I’ve always wanted to apply but for some reason always forgot to. Now that I have a seven-month old and still fly just as much, this sounds like a great alternative to giant lines. Thanks for the post!

  2. I like how you really did the research here! I’ve been wondering if it’s worth it to get any of these expedited programs- will look into Global Entry, too. Thanks!

  3. Prior to our next out of country travels we will do this. I kind of cheat the system sometimes carrying a British Passport and PRA card I pick the shortest line and hop on in……. I can still do this, but will do the application for this as well…..


  4. Ray, I think it really helps. Nice to not have to unpack the bags in security.

  5. Thanks Christy! It does take some research to figure everything out. I appreciate you noticing. : ) Have a great week.

  6. In traveling in just a few weeks! This is a great resource!!

  7. Glad you enjoyed it! TSA PreCheck is super helpful! Safe travels!

  8. I can’t find the list of required documents for a 13 year old to apply for PreCheck. After searching the DHS website I’ve come up empty handed.

  9. I have a 14 yr old that is going to apply. She has a birth cert but none of the other listed documents. I can’t even get her past the documents section of the online app because of this. Any ideas? Thanks

  10. Ken, I have a couple of thoughts. Are you doing TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry? My first thought would be to call TSA 866-289-9673 and ask for their suggestions. If you have a local TSA office near you, the other option would be to just walk in and ask them. We have passports for our children and did Global Entry so I was able to do this online. My third option would be the final one and that would be to get a passport for your 14 year old, but that seems like extra work at this point.

  11. Also, if you have TSA PreCheck, it is my understanding they can travel with you and go through Pre-Check with you up to age 18.

  12. I have a 9 yr old and 13 yr old. How strict are they about the age limit?

  13. If you have a child over 12 but under 18 what documentation do you need to apply

  14. It honestly depends on the airport and TSA agent. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  15. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately the info isn’t all there because it doesn’t address clearly how to handle that age group when they don’t have a passport. You also can’t apply online or do an appointment because they don’t have the two document requirement. I’m going to do a walk in with my 14 yr old with a bc and report back. Thanks again.

  16. Let me know what you find out. Are you applying too? Could always kill two birds with one stone if you are already going in.

  17. My wife and our older daughter (with a BC and DL) have already applied online and have an appointment. Thinking right with you we are taking the younger daughter as a walk in and see what happens. Let you know.

  18. OK here’s the latest. I sent this question to @AskTSA and asked in person at my home airport TSA Pre office:
    I have a 14 yo child & want to apply for precheck for her. only has a birth cert & school ID. no other docs on list. what can we do?
    I got this same answer at both places:
    She will need a state-issued photo ID along w/ her birth certificate for TSA Pre✓® enrollment.
    So, depending on how much hassle an ID is at your DMV or state office, it might make more sense to get a passport. BTW… my 16 yr old, with a driver’s license and birth certificate, went through the process in less than 10 min with an appointment and me there to pay and sign.

  19. Thank you for doing the leg work on this. I am sure it will help many people considering TSA PreCheck. At this point, I think if you are planning any international travel, you might as well do the Global Entry since that covers TSA and passport control too.

  20. From your comparison chart, NEXUS has the same benefits as the TSA precheck and more but at half the cost…

    What do you think?

  21. Well NEXUS is $50 versus $85, so it’s not really half the price. There aren’t very many enrollment centers for NEXUS either (the ones they have are located near the Canadian border making it difficult for most to apply). On the positive side, children are free until they are 18. For us, Global Entry was the way we ended up going.

  22. Short term we will get the 14 yo a state ID and PreCheck. Long term we will end up going Global Entry too.

  23. We are looking into this for our family. Can you tell me more about the application processing center visit? My searches indicate first available appointment times. Will I be able to select a time that works for my schedule or am I assigned a time? Also can I make an appointment for my entire family, so we can take care of all business in one visit?

  24. You can choose a time that works for your schedule. Unfortunately you have to schedule one for each individual, but I found that when I brought my children to my appointment (their appointments were on different days) they were able to process them with me. Don’t know if they would be able to do that with spouses. Hope this helps.

  25. At Orange County, CA, I had an appointment for one daughter and tried to get the other done as a walk in at the same time. They wouldn’t do it for me. Fyi

  26. we weren’t sure it would be worth it for us since we split our flying between domestic and international. I’m not sure if any international carriers allow you to enter the your TSA # when you book a flight — Aer Lingus didn’t when we flew last month, so that’s a bummer. Maybe that will change. The fact that it is good for 5 years makes it worthwhile. I think even when the TSA line is long, it moves faster than the regular line because you don’t need to remove shoes, take out laptops, etc. And also you tend to be in line with more frequent travelers who know the routine.

  27. We invested in the Global Entry since we do a fair amount of international travel. It’s $100 for 5 years and includes TSA Precheck. We thought that was the best deal out there. It is nice to not have to remove everything and when you’re traveling with kids, that’s a big help!

  28. This article is very helpful. I was hoping that younger children didn’t need to have Pre-Check if they are traveling with an adult having the same. Thanks for all of the details. I wonder how much more trouble the application for Global Entry is. I understand you need to go through an in-person interview, but that’s the only difference I know of.

  29. Young children up to age 12 can travel with a parent who has pre-check. Global Entry is just a waiting process. The interview was not difficult. You make an appointment and they pretty much keep things going on schedule. You just have to ask if the cost is worth it. GE is $100 for 5 years and includes Pre-Check. If you travel internationally enough, it might be the right choice.

Comments are closed.