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Global Entry for Kids? Yes, they need their own membership.




Written by:

Barbara Mighdoll

If you're planning an international trip with your family, consider signing up for Global Entry. Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. This means you can skip those massive lines at US immigration and customs and get to your final destination faster. And let’s be honest, that last stretch of travel on your way home is brutal, so having Global Entry can help speed up the process to peace out from the airport and get home.

But what about your kids? Do they need their own Global Entry membership? The surprising answer is yes – kids need their own Global Entry Membership.

Unlike TSA PreCheck, you need Global Entry for kids of any age — even babies. While you're planning your international travel and getting passports in order, don't forget about signing up for Global Entry too. This program can make travel so much easier, saving you time and stress at customs. Here’s everything I’ve learned about the Global Entry process when planning a family trip with our toddler and baby.

Global Entry for Kids? Yes, they need their own membership.

Benefits of Global Entry for the whole family

The obvious, and only benefit of Global Entry for kids is skipping long lines at customs, but if you don’t have Global Entry either for yourself there is an additional benefit. As a Global Entry member, you also receive TSA PreCheck, which means your family can go through expedited lanes in U.S. airports, saving you hours of time (and sparing you from whiny tantrums too!).

With TSA PreCheck, you don't have to remove your shoes, belt, and certain items of clothing when you're going through security screenings. Plus, you can keep your laptop in your carry-on bag too. If you've ever traveled with kids, you understand just how valuable this can be. Note, your kids can join you for TSA PreCheck even if they themselves don’t have the membership. 

Minimum age requirements for a Global Entry membership

We learned that every child, regardless of age, including babies, requires their own Global Entry membership the hard way, after enduring a grueling 48-hour journey from Italy, marked by flight delays, missed connections, an uncomfortable overnight stay at a rundown airport hotel, and countless tantrums along the way. Upon arrival to SFO we were given a very hard time when we tried breezing through Global Entry with our two kids, assuming they didn’t need it like TSA PreCheck.

In short, everyone must have their own Global Entry membership to enjoy the perks during the U.S. Customs screenings. Applicants under 18 need a parent or legal guardian to provide consent for the child to participate in Global Entry. As part of the application, an in-person interview is mandatory for all applicants. For children, a parent or guardian must accompany them to their interview. But I have the best hack to avoid scheduling this interview making an unnecessary trip to the airport with your little one… read on.

How long does Global Entry last?

A Global Entry membership lasts for 5 years, regardless of the age of the applicant. Keep in mind that it can take several months to renew your membership. Many applicants will start the renewal process in the fourth year, before the membership expires.

Should you get Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for your kids?

Global Entry also includes TSA PreCheck, so you may as well get Global Entry. If you don’t Imagine taking little kids and babies through long lines at airport security, yeah no thank you! TSA PreCheck means less fumbling with clothes, carry-ons, and a smoother screening overall.

Apply for Global Entry for your kid

Here's the Global Entry application process:

  1. Create an account with Trusted Traveler Programs.
  2. Start the application for Global Entry.
  3. Pay the nonrefundable application fee. 
  4. Schedule an in-person interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. Each person will need their own appointment time for the interview. Or do the Enrollment on Arrival hack!
Global Entry for Kids? Yes, they need their own membership.

How much does a Global Entry membership cost?

We paid $100 per person but starting October 1, 2024, the fee will increase to $120 per person. The good news is that children under 18 will no longer need to pay a fee when a parent is already a member of (or is also applying for) Global Entry. To save the most money, parents should apply now while the fee is still $100, then wait until October 1st to sign up their kids under 18 if time allows and you don't have an impending international trip before then.

When to apply for Global Entry for upcoming family travel

It can take several months to receive your Global Entry membership once you apply. The average processing time is up to six months, but it's also based on interview availability.

Global Entry interview tips for kids

Here are some tips when scheduling your kids' interview:

  1. Interviews are in-person and at designated Global Entry Enrollment Centers, which are usually at airports. The interview should only take a few minutes.
  2. Some centers will allow you to schedule multiple appointments together, but each applicant must have their own appointment. 
  3. Only one parent or legal guardian needs to be there during the interview. The parent or legal guardian does not need their own Global Entry membership for the interview or for the child to participate in the membership.
  4. Make sure to bring all the necessary documents, including your passport, your child's valid passport, proof of address (proof of change of address, if applicable), and secondary forms of ID.
  5. Adults should prepare to answer questions at the interview.
  6. Your child's photo and fingerprints will be taken.
Global Entry for Kids? Yes, they need their own membership.

The biggest Global Entry hack for kids: do Enrollment on Arrival instead of a scheduled interview

I’m going to let you in on a massive insider's secret: you can actually do your interview upon arrival back in the United States from an international trip. This is called “Enrollment on Arrival” and it's a great way to knock out the interview without an extra trip to the airport. Keep in mind, you need to be conditionally approved to complete the interview, meaning you’ve already completed all the online paperwork and gotten to the point of scheduling your interview. Enrollment on Arrival basically eliminates the need to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. 

We did this with both our kids and it was AHHHMAZING. You get in the normal Global Entry line, and follow the directions of the agents to do your interview onsite. So you’ll end up getting Global Entry program benefits for your trip arrival without actually having your membership yet.

Renewing your child's Global Entry membership

As I mentioned before, it can take several months to receive your Global Entry card, and the same applies when you're renewing it. Make sure to renew your membership BEFORE your current one expires – at least 6 months before. When you renew your membership, you'll have to pay the nonrefundable fee, submit another application, and go through the interview process again.

Keep in mind, if you renew your membership before it expires, you can keep enjoying the Global Entry benefits for 24 months from the submission date, even if your original expiration date falls during that time frame. This is super helpful because you'll avoid the long approval process.

If you’re choosing to travel with an infant, I want to celebrate with you! It’s a big undertaking, but it’s so worth it. You’ll figure out your routine, these additional strategies can help, and all those memories will be more valuable than the little sleep you lost. Trust me – you got this, mama!

For more travel tips, head over to the travel section of my blog. I discuss the best european cities to visit with kids (hint: Italy!) and you’ll find advice, packing lists, and some of my favorite travel essentials to help make family travel easier. Have a great trip!


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