What Is a SENTRI Pass and Is It Worth the Cost?

African American man holding boarding pass and passport at airline check-in desk at international airport.
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Travelers may find the SENTRI Pass a good choice to avoid long wait times at the U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada borders. However, those looking for entry back into the U.S. may not know what the SENTRI Pass is and how it works for a better border crossing experience by car and air.

What Is a SENTRI Pass?

A SENTRI Pass is one of the five official Trusted Traveler Programs issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These passes allow account holders to use expedited lanes when crossing international borders by land or air and are valid for five years after acceptance into a program. The SENTRI Pass is specifically for entry into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada. 

Who Is Eligible for a SENTRI Pass?

U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. lawful residents and all foreign nationals are eligible for SENTRI Pass membership. All travelers must be pre-approved by the DHS, which vets applicants to make sure they meet the program qualifications.

How Much Does a SENTRI Pass Cost?

Travelers entering the U.S. from Canada or Mexico currently pay a $122.25 fee for the SENTRI Pass. The fee is the same whether traveling by land or air.

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Is a SENTRI Pass Worth the Cost?

The SENTRI Pass may include another of the DHS’ Trusted Traveler Programs — TSA PreCheck. This program’s new enrollment fee is currently $85 and offers expedited entry at security departure points from U.S. airports.

The SENTRI Pass is the most expensive of all five DHS TTPs. Here’s a breakdown of each program for comparison.

Trusted Traveler Program Cost Travel Information Eligibility
SENTRI  $122.25 Air and land entry into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada U.S. citizens, all foreign nationals and U.S. lawful permanent residents
TSA PreCheck $85 Air travel at departure points from U.S. airports U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents
Global Entry Trusted Traveler Network $100 Air, land and sea entry into the U.S. from international destinations U.S. citizens, select foreign nationals and U.S. lawful permanent residents
NEXUS $50 Air, land and sea entry into the U.S. from Canada U.S. and Canadian citizens, Mexican nationals and U.S. and Canadian lawful permanent residents
FAST (Free and Secure Trade) $50 Commercial truck drivers entering and exiting the U.S. from Canada and Mexico U.S. and Canadian citizens, Mexican nationals and U.S. and Canadian lawful permanent residents

How SENTRI Pass Enrollment Works

After determining that the SENTRI Pass is the best DHS TTP for their travel needs, travelers must create an account at Login.gov. Users are then directed back to the SENTRI Pass site to fill out an application.

Travelers who have previously applied for a SENTRI Pass must provide their PASSID — membership number — when first setting up their profile. The PASSID is located on the back of the TTP card or on previously received notification letters.

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Application Documents and Interview Process

Applicants must schedule and attend an in-person interview at one of the TTP enrollment center locations. Applicants will need the following documents to complete the SENTRI Pass application and must bring the documents to their scheduled interview:

  • Proof of citizenship
  • Proof of current address
  • U.S. passport
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Proof of allowance to enter the United States
  • Permanent Resident Card — if a lawful permanent U.S. resident

Additional information needed to apply for a SENTRI Pass:

  • A valid email address
  • Other proof of citizenship documentation — if any
  • Past five years of address history
  • Valid phone number(s)
  • Vehicle information if planning to drive across the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Past five years of employment history
  • Court documents if previously convicted of a crime besides a traffic violation
  • Past five years of international travel history

After acceptance, members can access their SENTRI Pass login and enjoy their membership for five years.

Final Take

For travelers unsure if the SENTRI Pass is the right TTP for them, DHS has a form on its website to help travelers find the best program that fits their travel needs. Travelers simply provide the following information:

  • Country of citizenship
  • Number of annual international and domestic flights traveled
  • Number of annual trips to Canada and Mexico
  • Passport ownership status
  • Commercial driver status
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After filling out the form, travelers are shown the program that is the best match for them. Acceptance into the SENTRI Pass program is not guaranteed based only on travel habits or the best match shown. 

All in all, the SENTRI Pass is a good option for travelers who are looking to avoid long lines at Canadian and Mexican border crossings. 

Information is accurate as of July 13, 2022.

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About the Author

Kathy Evans is a personal finance freelance writer and entrepreneur with a technical writing and instructional systems design background. She holds an MS in technical writing and informational design and is currently a doctoral student in instructional technology at Towson University. Through work experience in the federal government as well as commercial and nonprofit industries, she has focused her freelance writing on finance, investing and economic content with a specialization in budget coaching.  

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