Global Entry vs SENTRI: Comparing the Trusted Traveler Programs

Global Entry vs SENTRI: Comparing the Trusted Traveler Programs
Photo by Daniel Lozano Valdés / Unsplash

The Global Entry and SENTRI programs can significantly improve your travel experience. Choosing the right one depends on where you travel and how often you travel.

At a high level, Global Entry is broad, enabling you to use the dedicated Global entry kiosks at select US airports when arriving in the US from any country. SENTRI also offers the same benefits as Global Entry (if you also qualify for Global Entry) and also enables a streamlined entrance into the US by land from Mexico and Canada.

This guide will go in-depth into the similarities and differences between the Global Entry and SENTRI Trusted Travelers Programs so you can decide which is best for you and get started with your application.

Overview of Global Entry vs SENTRI

Global Entry SENTRI
Purpose Expedited entry into the USA from international locations. Expedited entry into the USA from Mexico by land.
Available to U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and citizens of select countries. U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and Mexican citizens.
Application Fee $100 for a 5-year membership. $122.25 for a 5-year membership.
Includes TSA PreCheck? Yes No
Background Check Required? Yes Yes
Interview Required? Yes Yes
Biometrics Required? Yes Yes
Access to NEXUS Lanes? Yes, when arriving from Canada by land. No
Access to SENTRI Lanes? Yes Yes
Access to Global Entry Lanes? Yes Yes, but only if the individual also qualifies for Global Entry
Reciprocal Benefits Some countries offer similar expedited entry benefits to Global Entry members. No reciprocal benefits.
Valid for 5 years 5 years

What is SENTRI

SENTRI, short for Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection, is one of five Trusted Travelers Programs (TTP) by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. SENTRI card holders participants may enter the United States by using dedicated primary lanes into the United States at Southern land border ports.

If you've ever waited in line at customs when re-entering the US, you know how long these waits can get. SENTRI saves you the wait or at least shortens it.

Here's where things might get confusing.

US citizens who apply and qualify for SENTRI also receive TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits. That means an expedited airport security process and re-entry into the US through Global Entry kiosks.

However, Mexican nationals who have SENTRI must apply separately for Global Entry.

How does SENTRI work?

After completing the online application and passing a rigorous background check and in-person interview at a SENTRI enrollment center, you'll receive a SENTRI card that allows you to use dedicated lanes at land borders and Global Entry kiosks at participating airports. This allows you to bypass long lines and get through customs quickly.

How to Apply for SENTRI

Sign up for Appointment Scanner to book an interview appointment faster.

What is Global Entry?

Global Entry is another Trusted Traverls Program by US CBP that allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to breeze through customs and immigration checkpoints when arriving in the US by air.

It's open to citizens of the following countries:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

How does Global Entry Work?

Similarly to SENTRI, once you complete the online application, pass the background check and an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center, you'll receive a Global Entry card that allows you to fly through customers using one of the Global Entry kiosks.

You'll also get the benefit of TSA PreCheck so you can quickly get through airport security using the TSA PreCheck line.

How to Apply for Global Entry

To apply, create a Trusted Traveler Programs account online and pay a non-refundable application fee of $100 (this fee is covered by many credit cards).

You'll need to schedule an interview at a Global Entry enrollment center with a CBP. Once you pass the interview, you'll be approved and can use dedicated CBP processing lanes to breeze through customs.

What about NEXUS?

If you've checked out the Trusted Travelers Program website, you'll notice there's another program similar to Global Entry called NEXUS.

NEXUS also includes Global Entry benefits and is specifically for those who travel frequently between the US and Canada by land or sea.

Learn more about NEXUS.

Should you choose Global Entry or SENTRI?

If you're a US Citizen who generally travels internationally (including to Mexico) frequently, we recommend applying for Global Entry as you'll also be able to use the SENTRI lanes when traveling by land. Just remember to register your car with CBP.

If you're a Mexican national, then you'll need to apply for SENTRI to streamline your entrance into the US, but we also recommend applying for Global Entry if you plan to fly to different US cities.

In either case, you'll need to schedule an interview at a CBP enrollment center and wait times are at an all-time high. We recommend using Appointment Scanner to skip the wait and book an appointment faster.