Hot tip: You can apply for TSA PreCheck at Staples

If your family is among the majority, you’re likely spending some part of the next few months traveling by air. Getting through airport security with kids in tow can mean you’re starting off your journey in a full sweat, trying to get kids and luggage and strollers through scanners and conveyor belts. TSA PreCheck is just what you need to get your family vacation off on the right foot as it will speed up the screening process. Here’s everything you need to know about TSA PreCheck and using it when traveling with kids.

What Is TSA PreCheck?

According to the Transportation Security Administration, TSA PreCheck is an “expedited screening program that makes risk assessments about passengers prior to their arrival at an airport checkpoint.” Once approved, TSA PreCheck gets you into a designated line at the airport where you won’t have to remove your shoes, belt, or liquids, or take your laptop out of its bag. These lines are typically significantly shorter than the regular lines which means you’ll be through the screening and to your gate in no time.

TSA PreCheck is offered at over 200 airports in the U.S. but you will not be able to use it when returning to the U.S. from a foreign country.

TSA precheck sign at an airport

How Do You Apply for TSA PreCheck?

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can apply for TSA PreCheck expedited screening benefits for a fee of $85, which is valid for five years. To apply for TSA aPreCheck, visit You’ll submit an online application and then visit one of the screening locations to get fingerprinted for a background check. Insider tip: In addition to airport screening locations, some Staples stores also have the ability to approve travelers for TSA PreCheck.

Many credit cards offer TSA PreCheck as a free travel benefit so check if yours does before applying. You don’t need to apply for TSA PreCheck if you are already approved under Global Entry’s Trusted Traveler Program. However, if you are a member of CLEAR, you do have to apply for TSA PreCheck to use that expedited lane as the programs are separate.

Does My Child Need Their Own TSA PreCheck?

As of May 2023, children 17 and under do not need their own TSA PreCheck as long as they are traveling with a TSA PreCheck-approved parent or guardian on the same reservation. If your child is traveling alone or with a non-guardian adult, then they do need their own TSA PreCheck in order to use the expedited screening lane at the airport.

What Do I Do Once I’m Approved for TSA PreCheck?

You will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) once your TSA PreCheck is approved. You will then add this number to your ticket when you fly either by adding it to your airline loyalty program account or to your ticket when purchasing it. You can also add it after the ticket has been purchased if needed.

When you go to check in, your boarding pass will have the TSA PreCheck indicator on it and this will allow you to join the expedited line at the airport.

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