Using a Sentri Pass at Border Crossings

So you’re a regular border hopper and you’re tired of waiting in long general lines. The Sentri Lanes offer a means of crossing the border quickly through a card carrying program. You can only use these lanes with an official Sentri Card that is awarded after an application process.

For travelers who cross infrequently, there is little need for this card. The commuters and frequent crossers can seriously benefit however. On busy days, having a pass can save hours of waiting in long lines. Sentri Cards are valid for vehicles and pedestrians and they can expedite entry at both land borders and airport customs terminals.

Completing the Sentri Pass Application

Before applying, you must set up a Trusted Traveler account. You will login to this account to complete the application and pay the fee. As of 2024, it costs $25 USD to apply for Sentri and your application will undergo a review that can lead to an interview where you must prove citizenship and supply proof of auto insurance. An additional fingerprint fee is also normal.

If approved, the annual fee is just over $122 USD. Your Sentri Lane Card expires in 5 years at which point you must follow the renewal process. Keep your account current for as long as you want to use the lanes.

Sentri Lane Rules and Procedures for Crossing

The directions to reach an appropriate lane are often different from those for general lanes. Mapping apps can confuse the two and it’s best to do a drive around or specific research to ensure you have the correct route. Seeing as how this will be a regular trip, you won’t have a hard time getting accustomed to using the lanes.

When using the lane, always have your card and passport ready. You will need to present both at the crossing. These lanes still require inspections and you can still be sent into secondary. The real benefit is a lack of wait times.

Keep in mind, there are consequences for a violation of using the lanes without a Sentri pass. You might get through one time while making a mistake but multiple offenses can result in serious fines. Do not attempt to cross in Sentri Lanes until you are approved and have a card.

Alternative Border Lanes and Passes

If the application process is too rigorous or you are denied an account, consider using the Ready Lanes. These only require an appropriate RFID Chip identification like a passport card or specific state ID (in conjunction with a passport). Or, go for a Global Entry card for even more benefits beyond the border. These offer airport perks and special expedited lines through security.