Over the years we have flown quite a bit with our brood of 3 kids. We try to take them to as many different countries, cultures, and continents as we can before they shove off into the real world to lead their own lives. Any parent who travels a lot with younger kids can likely agree the most stressful times during each trip boils down to one challening part – security. The joys of trying to herd three little minions without shoes or jackets through a metal detector all the while making sure all laptops are out of bags, no liquids, no random metal object (typically, the most recent facination) is buried in one of the kids pockets, AND managing to not misplace passports, wallets, and purses can be quite a daunting task. But there is a solution!
Global Entry for families / TSA Precheck
How do you get it? Go to Canada!
Well technically you don’t have to go into Canada but you do sign up for the NEXUS program! Nexus is a trusted traveler program that is a partnership between the USA and Canada. Although it has great benefits for traveling between the US and Canada it also come with inclusion in the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs. After you join NEXUS you will have Global Entry for families and will be able to use the Global Entry kiosks whenever you arrive in the USA by plane. You also will be able to utilize TSA PreCheck for a smoother experience through security in airports in the USA.
What is it?
Per the Canada Border Service Agency: NEXUS is a bi-national, Canada-United States program for pre-approved, low-risk travelers entering Canada or the United States (U.S.) at designated air, land and marine ports of entry.
For our use it gains us access to use Global Entry kiosks and TSA PreCheck when traveling into the USA on airlines!
What are the benefits?
- Use of Global Entry kiosks when traveling into USA
- Enrollment in TSA PreCheck
- Simplified border crossing between US and Canada while on land
- Access to Trusted Traveller CATSA Security Line in Canadian airports
- Only parents have to pay registration fee KIDS ARE FREE!
How do you sign up?
If you are a US citizen you need to start your application in the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES).
Create a TTP account here.
Log into your account and complete the application for NEXUS (you have to make an account for each of your family members including the kids).
After you complete the application and pay the $50 USD fee for each adult, (you pay for only the adults) you make an appointment to be interviewed at a NEXUS Enrollment Center. This is the only place that can be inconvenient as most of the enrollment centers are near the Canadian border. We live in Idaho and do not have an enrollment center, but Seattle does. So we took an overnight trip to Seattle to visit the enrollment center. The available enrollment appointments can be booked quite a ways out, so schedule your appointment and if you can not find a good appointment time, try looking at a different enrollment center.
The entire family gets interviewed at the same time, it took us about an hour and a half to get all our paperwork and interviews done. Make sure all your kids get finger printed so they can also use the Global Entry. We made the mistake of NOT getting our kids finger printed, so had to visit an enrollment center in DFW (we luckily had a long layover) to get the kiddos fingerprinted. A week later our NEXUS cards came in the mail (used only for land crossing and Trusted Traveller CATSA Security Line in Canadian airports) and we now can use our NEXUS number in the Trusted Traveller Program for TSA PreCheck and Global Entry! Make sure you put your Nexus number in the Known Traveler Number field during your reservation process to ensure you get TSA PreCheck.
Now going through security is WAY easier, laptops stay in bags, shoes stay on feet, and we save a few more gray hairs from sprouting on my head.
Looking for more tips to travel with your kids? Check out our post on packing and preparing for air travel!