There are many cards that trusted travelers can get that make entry into the United States easier. These expedite both security lines and international border crossings.
Here’s what travelers need to know to find the program that is right for them and enroll today.
Trusted travelers are people who are low-risk. They have to meet certain qualifications, which are different for each program. Travelers who qualify for one of the programs listed below will have special security lines at airports in the USA. These are usually shorter and easier to get through. They will also be eligible for expedited international border crossing lines.
There are different programs for different travelers based on where they hold citizenship, which border they are crossing, and whether they are crossing the border by air or another way.
TSA PreCheck focuses on travelers departing from US airports. Citizens of the United States and lawful permanent residents there are eligible for this designation. To apply for TSA PreCheck, travelers need to submit an application online as well as have an appointment at an enrollment center near them.
At the appointment, travelers have to show proof of identity and citizenship, as well as submit their fingerprints for processing. They will also need to pay their enrollment fee.
Within a few weeks, travelers should receive a letter telling them that they have been accepted into the program or denied.
Travelers who are approved for the program will need to submit their Known Traveler Number whenever they make an airline reservation. When they get their boarding pass, it will note that they are TSA PreCheck approved. This allows them to enter the expedited screening line at security. Approved travelers will not have to take off their shoes, belts, or light jackets, and will not have to remove liquids or laptops at security. Most TSA PreCheck lines are 5 minutes or less!
Children under 12 years of age can go through TSA PreCheck with approved parents. With lines at over 200 airports, TSA PreCheck is expediting travel across the country. Each membership is good for 5 years and can be renewed for 5 more years for a low fee.
Global Entry focuses on travelers who are entering the USA by air, land, and sea. US citizens and lawful permanent residents, as well as some foreign nationals, are eligible for the program. Travelers begin the application process by submitting an online application. Then, they can have an interview at an Enrollment Center or at an Enrollment upon Arrival location.
Applicants planning to enter the US from an international destination within the next 6 months should use the Enrollment upon Arrival option. At the interview, travelers will need to submit proof of identity and that they are eligible for the program. They will also need to answer basic questions about their identity.
Finally, the interviewer will ask them about their job and about arrests and convictions and take their fingerprints for a background check. It can take up to several months to get approved for the program and to receive the card in the mail.
Travelers who have been accepted into the program will hold that status for 5 years. They will need to update the program if their visa changes or gets renewed.
Once travelers have their Global Entry card, they will be able to use the Global Entry kiosks or e-gates at participating border crossings. These use facial recognition technology and more to verify traveler identity so they can enter the USA without having to submit paperwork or stand in long lines. Note that Global Entry approval comes with TSA PreCheck, so these travelers also reap all of the benefits listed above.
The Nexus program is designed for travelers entering the United States from Canada or Canada from the USA by air, land, and sea.
US citizens and lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens, lawful permanent residents, and Mexican nationals are eligible to apply.
To apply, travelers submit an online application and participate in an interview at an Enrollment Center. At the interview, applicants will need to show proof of identity and proof that they are eligible for the program. They will also need to submit biometric data like fingerprints. Nexus applications are often approved soon after the interview, sometimes even the same day. It will take up to 10 days to receive the card, though, so travelers should plan accordingly.
People with a Nexus card will have expedited immigration lanes no matter which way they are crossing the border. Nexus members can also use Global Entry kiosks, where these are available, and will also automatically get TSA PreCheck. The Nexus card can be used in lieu of a passport when traveling between the US and Canada. For entering the US, though, it is only good in airports with a USA pre-clearance area.
Additionally, the Nexus card expedites land (both vehicle and pedestrian) and marine entry into both countries.
Sentri is designed specifically to expedite entry into the United States from Mexico by air or land, and also offers the use of Nexus lanes when entering from Canada. Sentri pass holders will be eligible for expedited entry into the US when traveling by air, too, via Global Entry kiosks or special lines.
Note that Sentri does not expedite entry in the opposite direction (when traveling from the United States).
To qualify for Sentri, an applicant must be a citizen of the USA, a permanent resident there, or a foreign national. The application process begins by filling out an online form and submitting payment for the pass. Then, applicants must attend an in-person interview at an Enrollment Center.
They will need to bring their passport, one additional form of identification, a copy of their US auto insurance, their vehicle registration, and proof that they are eligible for the program. All applicants over the age of 14 will need to have their fingerprints taken, too.
Sentri comes with TSA PreCheck, as well, so those lines will be available for pass holders participating in air travel through qualifying airports.
Note that Sentri is focused on expediting land crossings into the US from Mexico. While it comes with other perks, it is best for people who cross that border regularly.
The Fast pass is specifically for commercial truck drivers driving between Canada, the USA, and Mexico. There is a special lane at border crossings for Fast pass holders and the required paperwork is reduced, too. Drivers may be eligible for the Fast pass if they are US, Canadian, or Mexican citizens, or US or Canadian permanent residents and have paperwork to prove this status.
Drivers who want the Fast pass will need to submit an application online and attend an in-person interview. At the interview, they will need to prove their identity, their citizenship or resident status, and give biometric data. They may also need to answer a few questions.
Once granted, Fast status expedites international shipping and makes it easier for drivers to get their loads where they need to go.
Travelers who want to enter the US quickly can usually find a way to do so. They should choose the card that is right for them from the list above, then apply for it.
As soon as they get it, travel will be easier than ever before!