What Are the Advantages of a SENTRI Card?

SENTRI (Secure Electronic Network for Travellers Rapid Inspection) card is a U.S. CBP card that allows expedited pass through the U.S. border crossing points for low-risk travelers coming from Mexico. SENTRI is part of the Trusted Traveller programs, which also include Global Entry, NEXUS, and FAST memberships

Unlike NEXUS card owners, SENTRI cardholders cannot use the card to enter Canada from the United States by travelling in the dedicated NEXUS lanes. A SENTRI card is a one-way pass. SENTRI is also available to Mexican citizens as part of the WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative).

A SENTRI card is a WHTI compliant card, and, once you get it, it will be valid for 5 years, which means that you’ll need to repeat a similar checkup once the card expires. The SENTRI card is an RFID type of card that contains all your data stored in the CBP database.

Canadians can already use their NEXUS cards to enter the United States from Mexico by car, but with a SENTRI card, Canadian citizens enter Mexico by driving through the dedicated primary lanes located at Southern land border ports. A SENTRI Card is also valuable for anyone boating to Mexico.

To get your SENTRI pass, you need to undergo a strict and detailed background check, as well as an in-person interview with a CBP officer. The process includes taking a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check.


More about the SENTRI Card Advantages

As a member of the SENTRI program, you get three primary benefits:

  • Expedited pass at dedicated processing lanes at southern (US-Mexico) land border crossings.
  • Entry through NEXUS lanes when entering the U.S. by land.
  • Using Global Entry kiosks when entering the U.S. by air.

If you are already a NEXUS member, you can use the same process to get a SENTRI card, as well as update the information in already approved applications.

The SENTRI membership enables U.S. citizens to use TSA PreCheck on all included airlines. The same privilege is available to NEXUS and Global Entry members.


Vehicle Registration Requirements for Global Entry Cards in the SENTRI or NEXUS lanes

If you are a Global Entry member and intend to travel in the SENTRI lanes by vehicle, you need to register your vehicle with the U.S. CBP.

  • Registering your vehicle in SENTRI as part of your initial Global Entry application is free of charge.
  • Registering your vehicle after your initial application will cost you $42 paid as a registration fee.

If you only want to use your NEXUS card to get into the U.S. from Canada by using the NEXUS lanes, you don’t need to register your vehicle. However, you won’t be able to use the same privilege in the other direction, that is, get into Canada from the U.S. by using NEXUS lanes and kiosks.

If you want to change information about the vehicle on your membership – add, update or remove a vehicle – you need to log into your TTP (Trusted Traveler Program) account, choose either the “Add Vehicle” or the “Manage Vehicles” options from the dashboard, and pay the processing fee. The review time for the update to take place is between 3 and 5 months.

Once approved, you can start using the vehicle with your current TTP card. There is no need to take your vehicle for an inspection.


SENTRI Eligibility Requirements

There are no specific citizenship or age requirements for becoming a SENTRI member. However, if you are younger than 18, you must obtain a parental or a guardian consent.

You may become ineligible to apply for a SENTRI membership if the review process you have undergone presented that you have provided inaccurate information in your application. The same outcome can take place if you cannot suffice the CBP requirements for low-risk travellers, or if you have any criminal (including DUI) pending charges or convictions or if you are subject to an investigation conducted by law enforcement agencies. You may also be ineligible if you have violated customs, immigration or agriculture regulations.


How to Apply for a SENTRI card

The first thing you need to do is create a personal Trusted Traveller Program account if you don’t already have one. After you create your TTP account, complete the following steps:

  • Log in to your TTP account and complete the application.
  • Once the application is pre-approved, schedule a personal interview in a SENTRI Enrollment center.
  • At the interview, bring your passport and another ID document, such as a valid driver’s license or ID card, as well as the vehicle registration and vehicle insurance.
  • Permanent residents must provide a permanent resident card.
  • Pay the non-refundable fee. Acceptable payment methods include credit cards, certified checks, money orders or electronic bank transfer. The total fee includes the following portions:
    • Application fee: $25 (maximum of $50 for a family of husband, wife, and minor children)
    • Fingerprint fee: $14.50 (only for applicants over 14 years)
    • System cost fee: $82.75 per person (maximum of $165.50 for a family of husband, wife, and minor children)
    • Additional vehicle fee (up to 4 vehicles) or additional person fee (up to 8 people per vehicle) – $42 per vehicle.


How to Use Your SENTRI Card

If you pass the approval process, you will get a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card that will serve as a proof of the SENTRI membership. You need to activate your card by logging into your TTP account and clicking the “Activate Membership Card” option.

SENTRI cards enable automatic vehicle identification as you approach border SENTRI lanes. Vehicle occupants will also be automatically identified by reading their RFID card number.

CBP officers will verify data compliance by comparing data from the card to data held in the CBP database and either let you go or refer you for an additional checkup.

Biljana Ogenenova
Biljana Ogenenova
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