Travel Tips · United States

TSA Pre-Check and the Trusted Traveler Programs: Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI

TSA Pre √® ….  I still don’t understand how this works but I want to know.  Earlier this summer, I rode on a shuttlebus with 2 frequent travelers  from the Columbia, S.C. airport(CAE) to the Charlotte airport(CLT).  Our flight was canceled because the airplane had a malfunction and we were transported to our connecting flight by bus to Charlotte.  (This happens a lot at the Columbia airport, so don’t be surprised).

Both of my traveling companions used TSA Pre √® frequently.  One of them also used another program when traveling internationally.  I was curious, so this is what I’ve learned.

With TSA Pre √®, you can get through a security line in about 5 minutes or less.  You do NOT need to remove your shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, and light jackets.  As of today’s date, the fee is $85 and the membership lasts 5 years.  Over 180 airports and 19 airlines offer this service to their customers.  You access an online application that takes approximately 5 minutes to fill out  & then schedule an in-person appointment at any  one of 380 + enrollment centers.  You will then meet for a 10 minute interview (you will need to bring specific documents to prove your identity) which will include fingerprints and a background check.  (Locally, both Pittsburgh International Airport & Cleveland Hopkins International Airport offer enrollment centers).  When you are approved, you will receive a KTN or Known Traveler Number.  So far, I have heard nothing but good things about this process and both of my traveling friends highly recommended applying.  Here is the link:

If you are already a member of one of the Trusted Traveler Programs explained below, you qualify for TSA Pre √®.  You just enter your membership number (PASS ID) in the “Known Traveler Field” when booking reservations or enter it into your frequent flyer profile when flying with the airline.

Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Program (CBP) that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States.  Members enter the U.S. through automatic kiosks at select airports.  Members will present machine-readable passports or permanent resident cards at a Global Entry kiosk, place their fingerprints on a scanner for verification, and complete a customs declaration.  The kiosk issues the traveler with a receipt & directs him/her to baggage claim and the exit. The goal is to speed travelers through the process but members can be selected for further examination when entering the U.S.  Membership in Global Entry eliminates processing lines, paperwork, allows access to expedited entry benefits in other countries, is available at major U.S. airports, reducing wait times, and includes TSA Pre √® availability.  Here is a link with airport availability:

You can apply for Global Entry by setting up a GOES account.  The fee is $100 & is non-refundable.  Once conditionally approved, you will schedule an in-person interview.  You will need a valid passport & a driver’s license.

Using the Global Entry card:  these can be used for lawful entry at land and sea ports of entry.   These cards have radio frequency chips which enable their use at NEXUS and SENTRI lanes when entering the U.S. at land borders.   However, this card is invalid for entry into Canada via the NEXUS lanes. Only your passport or lawful permanent resident card are valid at Global Entry kiosks.  The Global Entry card cannot be used at Global Entry kiosks. NEXUS cards are accepted at Global Entry Kiosks located in Canadian Preclearance airports.

NEXUS is available to both U.S. and Canadian citizens.  Both the U.S. and Canada must approve your application.  This program allows pre-screened travelers expedited processing when entering the United States or Canada.  Program members use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air, and Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian Preclearance airports.  NEXUS members also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.  If I am understanding this correctly, the NEXUS process expedites both air and land border crossings.  In other words, even if you have a passport card & plan to enter the U.S. via land, you cannot come through in an expedited way, you’d need to  have NEXUS if you desire a faster entry.  Plus, the passport card will not work for flights, only land crossings.  As of today’s date, the non-refundable fee is$50 with application.  There are 2 ways to submit the application:  (1) Create a GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) account. Here’s the link:   (2) By mail. Send completed application, enrollment fee, & supporting documentation to your designated Canadian Processing Center. If your application is conditionally approved, you will receive a letter from CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) that will instruct you to schedule an interview at a NEXUS enrollment center. In the U.S., this is located at

Residents of Ontario and the United States:
NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
6080 McLeod Road
PO Box 126
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 6T1

SENTRI is Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection.  This allows expedited clearance for pre-approved low-risk  travelers upon arrival into the United States. Participants may enter the U.S. by using dedicated primary lanes at Southern land border ports.  All applicants undergo a rigorous background check and in-person interview.  There are no citizenship or age requirements however, if you are under 18, you must have your parents’ or legal guardians’ consent to participate in the program.

Non-Refundable Application Fee

Application Fee: $25.00 per person (or a maximum of $50.00 for husband, wife and minor children)
Fingerprint Fee: $14.50 (applicants 14 years of age and older)
System Cost Fee: $82.75 per person (or a maximum of $165.50 for a husband, wife and minor children)
Total Fee: $122.25 per person

You can pay by credit card, certified check, money order, or through electronic bank transfer. All fees are non-refundable.

As in the NEXUS scenario, you create an account with GOES (or fill out an app & send via mail), send app fee, & schedule in-person appointment.  For the appointment, take a valid passport and a driver’s license.  You are also required to provide vehicle registration and evidence of auto insurance.  SENTRI enrollment centers are in Arizona, Texas, and California.

If you are approved for SENTRI, you will be issued a RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Card).  You will need to activate your card by logging into GOES and clicking on “Activate Membership Card” button under the “Program Membership(s)” section.

When you are ready to use your card, you will approach the border in the SENTRI lane where the system automatically identifies your vehicle and the identity of the occupants of the vehicle.  The RFID card is read upon your arrival.  The file number triggers your data which is pulled up on the CBP officer’s screen.  Data is verified by the CBP officer and you are either released or referred for further inspection.


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