What Age Do You Have To Take Your Shoes Off At The Airport?

Going through airport security can be stressful, especially if you’re traveling with children. One question many parents have is what age children have to remove their shoes when going through security checkpoints.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Children 12 years and younger do not need to remove their shoes at airport security checkpoints in the United States.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about airport shoe policies for children and adults. We’ll discuss the reasons behind the shoe removal requirement, explain specific TSA guidelines based on age, and provide tips for making the process smoother when traveling with kids.

Background on Airport Shoe Removal Policies

Have you ever wondered why you have to take off your shoes at the airport security checkpoint? The answer lies in the efforts to ensure the safety of all passengers. Shoes are screened separately from other items to detect any hidden threats or prohibited items.

This additional security measure has become a standard practice at airports worldwide.

Why Shoes Need to Be Screened

The shoe removal policy was implemented after the foiled shoe bombing attempt by Richard Reid in 2001. He had hidden explosives in his shoes and attempted to detonate them on a transatlantic flight. This incident highlighted the need for enhanced security measures, including the screening of footwear.

Shoes can potentially conceal dangerous items such as knives, blades, or explosive materials. By requiring passengers to remove their shoes and send them through the X-ray machine, security personnel can identify any potential threats and take appropriate action.

Additionally, the screening process helps to maintain a consistent and efficient flow of passengers through security checkpoints. By standardizing the shoe removal policy, airports can ensure that all passengers are subject to the same security procedures, reducing the risk of any loopholes in the system.

When Shoe Removal Rules Went Into Effect

The exact timing of when shoe removal rules were implemented may vary depending on the country and airport. However, in the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officially implemented the shoe removal policy in 2006.

Since then, passengers have been required to remove their shoes before walking through the metal detector or body scanner. This policy applies to all passengers, regardless of age or footwear type. Even if you are wearing sandals or flip-flops, you will still need to remove them for screening.

It’s important to note that some airports have implemented technology such as shoe scanners to reduce the need for passengers to remove their shoes. These scanners use advanced imaging to detect any hidden items without the need for physical shoe removal.

However, this technology is not yet widely available and may not be present at all airports.

To stay up to date with the latest security requirements and policies at your specific airport, it’s always a good idea to check the official website or contact the airport directly.

TSA Rules for Children’s Shoes

Children Under 12

When it comes to children under 12, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented some specific rules regarding their shoes at airport security checkpoints. Fortunately, children under the age of 12 are generally not required to remove their shoes during the screening process.

This policy aims to make the security procedure less intimidating and more efficient for young travelers and their parents.

However, it’s important to note that there may be exceptions to this rule. If a child is wearing shoes that have a significant metal component or if they set off the metal detector, they may be asked to remove their shoes for further inspection.

In such cases, parents are usually allowed to assist their children in removing and putting back on their shoes.

For more detailed information about TSA rules for children under 12, you can visit the official TSA website https://www.tsa.gov/.

Children 12 and Older

For children aged 12 and older, the TSA follows the same rules as they do for adults. This means that they are typically required to remove their shoes and place them in a bin for X-ray screening. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that no prohibited items or substances are being concealed within the footwear.

Children who are 12 and older must also follow the same guidelines as adults when it comes to wearing shoes that are easy to remove and put back on, such as slip-on shoes or shoes with Velcro closures. This helps to expedite the screening process and keep the lines moving smoothly.

It’s worth mentioning that the TSA may occasionally make exceptions for children with certain medical conditions or disabilities. In such cases, parents or guardians should inform the TSA officers in advance to ensure a smooth and hassle-free screening experience for their child.

For more information about the TSA rules for children aged 12 and older, you can refer to the official TSA website https://www.tsa.gov/.

TSA Rules for Adult Shoes

When it comes to airport security, many travelers are unsure about the rules regarding shoes. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has specific guidelines in place to ensure the safety of passengers and the smooth flow of security checkpoints. Here are the rules for adult shoes:

Shoe Removal

Generally, adult passengers are required to remove their shoes during the security screening process. This rule applies to both men and women, regardless of age or the type of shoes they are wearing. The reason behind this rule is to ensure that there are no prohibited items concealed within the shoes.


However, there are a few exceptions to the shoe removal rule. Passengers who are 75 years of age or older are not required to remove their shoes. Additionally, individuals with certain medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from removing their shoes may request a modified screening process.

It is always advisable to inform the TSA officer about any medical conditions or disabilities that may affect the shoe removal process.

Security Screening Process

When it is time to go through the security checkpoint, passengers will be directed to remove their shoes and place them in a plastic bin provided by the TSA. This allows the shoes to be screened separately from other belongings, making it easier for the security officers to detect any potential threats.

Once the shoes have gone through the screening process, passengers can retrieve them and continue on their journey.

Footwear Tips

To make the shoe removal process quicker and easier, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Wear slip-on shoes or shoes with minimal laces to make removal and reapplication faster.
  • Consider wearing socks to protect your feet while going through security.
  • Double-check your shoes to ensure there are no prohibited items inside, such as pocket knives or liquids exceeding the allowed limits.

For more information about TSA rules and regulations, you can visit the official TSA website here.

Remember to always follow the instructions given by the TSA officers at the security checkpoint to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. Safe travels!

Tips for Going Through Security with Children

Preparing Children for Screening

Going through airport security can be a daunting experience, especially for children. To help ease their fears and make the process smoother, it’s important to prepare them beforehand. Explain to them what will happen at the security checkpoint and why it is necessary.

Use age-appropriate language and visuals to help them understand. You can also play pretend airport security at home to familiarize them with the process and make it seem less intimidating.

Pro tip: Encourage your children to wear easy-to-remove shoes and clothing to speed up the screening process. This will save time and reduce stress for both you and your child.

Getting Through the Line Quickly

We all know how long airport security lines can be, and with children, it can feel even longer. To get through the line quickly, be prepared and organized. Have your ID and boarding passes ready, remove any liquids or gels from your bags, and make sure your child’s items are easily accessible for inspection.

Consider using a family line if available, as it is often less crowded and more accommodating for families.

Pro tip: If you’re traveling with a stroller, collapse it before you reach the security checkpoint. This will make the process smoother and faster, allowing you to get through the line with ease.

Following Rules Consistently

When it comes to airport security, it’s important to follow the rules consistently. This includes removing your child’s shoes if they are old enough. While there is no specific age requirement for taking off shoes at the airport, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) advises that children should remove their shoes if they can walk unassisted.

This is to ensure that nothing is concealed within their footwear.

Pro tip: To save time, consider wearing slip-on shoes for yourself and your child. This way, you can easily remove and put them back on without any hassle.

For more information on airport security rules and guidelines, you can visit the official TSA website at www.tsa.gov.


Going through airport security with children can add stress to traveling, but understanding TSA shoe policies can simplify the process. Children under 12 do not need to remove shoes, while those 12 and over follow the standard screening rules.

Preparing kids for what to expect can set the whole family up for success.

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