Yes, Your Kid Needs Their Own Global Entry Membership — How to Apply

Here’s what you need to know about getting Global Entry for kids — plus, how to save money on the fee.

<p>Yuliia Pavaliuk/Getty Images</p>

Yuliia Pavaliuk/Getty Images

Families traveling with children may be wondering if it’s worth it to get Global Entry for their kids. While the answer is subjective, the time and energy saved by breezing through customs after an international trip proves to be invaluable for many families. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about getting Global Entry for kids — including a way to save money on the application fee.

Global Entry is a Trusted Traveler Program that offers pre-approved travelers an expedited screening process upon arrival in the United States after an international trip. Administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, it’s available to U.S. citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents, and select foreign nationals. Global Entry is available to both adults and kids, and everyone needs their own membership, regardless of age.

To become a Global Entry member, you need to fill out an application, pay a $100 fee, and complete an in-person interview. Unfortunately, this process can be lengthy. According to the Department of Homeland Security, it can take as long as four to six months to complete the application process from start to finish.

Despite the initial inconvenience of applying for Global Entry, frequent travelers will find that the process is worth it. In addition to saving time and hassle going through customs after international travel, Global Entry membership comes with TSA PreCheck (normally $78 for five years; $70 for online renewal), which can expedite security screenings when traveling domestically.

Katie Seemann has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles in her nearly decade-long involvement with award travel. She writes about all aspects of travel, including flights, hotels, cruises, loyalty programs, points and miles, and credit cards.

Are kids required to get their own Global Entry membership, or can they go with their parents?

Global Entry may often be confused with TSA PreCheck, another Trusted Traveler Program that offers expedited screening at TSA airport security checkpoints. However, these two programs are very different.

Unlike TSA PreCheck, kids under 18 must have their own Global Entry membership to use the expedited lanes. They can’t just go through with a parent who has Global Entry.

There isn’t a minimum age requirement; even babies need to have Global Entry to use the expedited lanes with their parents.

Parents don’t have to be Global Entry members for their kids to get it,  but all kids under 18 must have their parent or legal guardian’s permission to apply for Global Entry.

<p>PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images</p>

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

How to Apply for Global Entry for Your Kids

As we mentioned above, every child, regardless of age, needs their own Global Entry membership.

The Global Entry application process for kids isn’t that much different than it is for adults. To apply for Global Entry, kids first need a Global Online Enrollment System account on the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website. This account needs to be for the child only — they can’t use a parent’s account.

An application needs to be filled out for each child applying for Global Entry. The cost is $100 per applicant for a five-year membership. This fee is non-refundable, even if the application is denied.

Thankfully, families can get that fee reimbursed rather easily — if they have the right card. Many of today’s top travel rewards credit cards come with a Global Entry fee credit that will cover the entire $100 cost. A parent can use the application fee credit from their card to pay for their child’s Global Entry enrollment fee.

There are over 40 cards that include this benefit, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and The Platinum Card from American Express. Many of these cards come with additional perks that help families travel more comfortably, like airport lounge access and travel insurance.

After filling out the application and paying the non-refundable fee, the child’s account will be reviewed, and a background check will be completed. Once the account is conditionally approved, an in-person interview must be scheduled. These can occur at a Global Entry Enrollment Center or at select airports using Enrollment on Arrival (EoA).

Interviews can book up months in advance, and many states only have one or two Global Entry Enrollment Centers, so this process can be time-consuming. If you have more than one child applying for Global Entry, each kid needs their own interview time slot.

To expedite the process, kids who already have their conditional approval can use Enrollment on Arrival (EoA). This allows applicants to complete the Global Entry interview at select airports upon arrival from an international flight. You can schedule an interview as a backup and utilize Enrollment on Arrival if the opportunity arises. Once you complete your interview at the airport, your original interview will be automatically canceled.

Once a child’s application is approved, they will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) and can start using the benefits immediately. They will also receive a Global Entry card in the mail, however, this card isn’t necessary when flying internationally. It’s only needed when entering the U.S. through SENTRI or NEXUS lanes at land crossings.

What is the Global Entry interview process like for kids?

While the thought of a Global Entry interview may be intimidating to many kids, the process is actually easy.

Jamie Weitl, a travel advisor and owner of Pineapple Escapes, explains how quick the process was. “We went to a local airport, and they asked our kids their names and took their photos. It was quite simple.”

It’s important for kids, just like adults, to arrive at their Global Entry interview early so they don’t risk being late and losing their time slot.

A parent or legal guardian must accompany the minor to the Global Entry interview (this person doesn’t have to have a Global Entry membership themselves.) Anyone under 18 years old needs to bring a valid passport (if the child has more than one, bring them all to the interview) and a permanent resident card, if applicable. The accompanying parent or guardian should also bring their passport and any additional documents, like proof of residency, that are mentioned on the application.

The interview itself is quick — usually taking just 15 minutes or less. The Customs and Border Patrol officer will verify the child and parent’s identities, and photos will be taken. Depending on the age of the child, fingerprints may also be taken. While adults may be asked questions about their application and travel plans, these questions may be skipped depending on the age of the child. 

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