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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.
Flying with children can make the travel experience a bit more hectic, so most parents are always looking for ways to make their airport experience smoother. TPG reader Lillian wants to know if she needs to sign her young child up for her own Global Entry account…
I will be traveling with my four month old son… he was born in the UK and this is his first time back to the US. I have Global Entry but my son does not. Am I still allowed to use the kiosk to skip the immigration line?TPG Reader Lillian
For those unfamiliar with Global Entry, it’s a program that allows US citizens to streamline the customs process when re-entering the United States. It’s saved me countless hours of waiting in seemingly endless customs lines, and it also gets you access to TSA PreCheck, an expedited security screening program that will have you scooting through security on your outbound flights in no time.
So for parents who are traveling as a family, do they need to enroll their children in the program separately, even if they aren’t old enough to walk or talk? Sadly, that is the case. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website states:
“Regardless of your age, you must create a Global Online Enrollment System account, pay a $100 non-refundable application fee, and schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center. If you are under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must be present at time of interview.”
So in Lillian’s case, she would have to sign up her child, even as a four-month-old, for Global Entry if she wanted to bring her through the expedited line. That also means an in-person “interview” with the CBP.
Once her son is enrolled in Global Entry, he would also enjoy TSA PreCheck too, though bear in mind that children under 12 traveling with their parents can already go through the PreCheck line without their own memberships. As a result, if you’re traveling with your young children exclusively in the US, it probably doesn’t make sense to splurge for their own Global Entry memberships. However, Global Entry (and the TSA PreCheck it provides) would be very helpful for those 13 to 17 years old, since those older children can’t go through PreCheck lines unless they’ve applied and been approved for the expedited screening program themselves.
If none of these appeal to you, NEXUS could be a good option for family travelers, since there isn’t an application fee for children under 18, it also gives you access to Global Entry kiosks on arrival. And if you’re not willing to shell out any cash or go through a lengthy application process, Mobile Passport can sometimes help speed up the re-entry process too.
Of course, you can even avoid the $100 Global Entry fee by carrying the right credit card in your wallet. Premium travel cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve cover this fee every four years, but you could also enjoy this benefit on lower annual fee products like the Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card, the United Explorer Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. Authorized users on an Amex Platinum also get their own Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, just one reason to consider adding them to your account.
Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
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