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All you need to know about Sentri, the only trusted traveler program available widely to foreign travelers

Dec. 17, 2021
4 min read
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Editor's Note

This story is continually updated 

Thus far, I've detailed three of the five trusted traveler programs designed to assist travelers in passing through security lines at U.S. airports and crossing domestic borders.

This week, I take a look at Sentri, the Mexican counterpart to Nexus, which, unlike other TTPs, is accessible to foreign travelers outside of the U.S.

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Here are this week's top five questions:

1. What is Sentri?

Sentri not only allows drivers (or walkers) expedited passage into the U.S. from Canada and Mexico via Sentri-specific lanes but also grants access to TSA PreCheck lanes at airports within the U.S. and overseas territories.

The other big TTPs, Global Entry, TSA PreCheck and Nexus, are primarily restricted to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, although Canadian citizens/permanent residents can use Nexus. Sentri, on the other hand, is open to all those groups plus all foreign nationals.

"SENTRI was established to expedite movement along the Southwest Land Border of eligible, pre-screened, low-risk, pre-approved travelers through designated vehicle traffic lanes," says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "There is no citizenship or residency requirement to apply for SENTRI."

Despite this, Sentri is most beneficial for people who live in or frequently cross border states, specifically those along the northern border with Canada or southern border with Mexico.

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(Screenshot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

2. How do I apply for Sentri?

Interested people can apply for Sentri online, in addition to submitting a $122.50 fee.

"Applicants must voluntarily undergo a thorough biographical background check against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, and terrorist indices; a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check; and a personal interview with a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer," per the DHS.

If your application is approved, you'll be asked to schedule and attend an in-person appointment at one of 13 locations across Arizona, California and Texas.

Currently, the soonest available appointments are in Laredo and Mission, Texas, so note that you may have to wait for an appointment depending on your desired enrollment center location.

Once approved, a Sentri membership lasts for five years.

(Screenshot from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

3. Are there any other application steps?

In order to access a Sentri lane, all vehicles must be registered. Those registered as part of your initial application to the program are free; however, any additional vehicle registrations cost $42 per car.

You can register up to four vehicles for use in the Sentri lanes and up to eight members per vehicle.

"Approved SENTRI members are able to use the Global Entry kiosks when re-entering the United States by air and TSA Pre-check, as long as they meet the citizenship requirements for Global Entry and their fingerprints and passports are on file," says the DHS.

U.S. border with Mexico at San Diego. (Photo by stellalevi/Getty Images)

4. Does Nexus allow me to use the Sentri lanes (and vice versa) when traveling back to the US from Mexico?

Per the DHS, Sentri members are not "entitled to any benefits under the NEXUS program through their SENTRI membership," but Nexus members have the option to register their vehicle for use in Sentri lanes when entering the U.S. from Mexico.

The El Paso and Juarez customs and immigration entry and exits at the U.S.-Mexico border. (Photo by grandriver/Getty Images)

5. Is there a way to expedite a Sentri application when I already hold a Nexus card?

Unfortunately, no. Your status in one program does not affect the speed at which your application is processed for another.

(Photo by Matt Anderson Photography/Getty Images)

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023