Can you be trusted? Trusted traveler programs allow certain travelers the ability to not wait in long lines or remove anything from their person or bag ahead of screenings. Sounds nice right? Over the next few weeks there will be a series of posts about trusted traveler programs in various regions including Asia Pacific, Europe and North America. We will discuss various trusted traveler programs to help you apply for faster admittance to and from particular countries. There are a multitude of programs to fit your travel needs across North America, including: TSA Pre-check, Global Entry, Program Viajero Confiable (Trusted Traveler Program), NEXUS, SENTRI and CLEAR.
Over five million people are taking advantage of TSA Pre-check’s five minutes or less time waiting in lines. Are you one of those people? If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident, you can qualify. First, you will need to submit an application online, pay the $85 application fee and schedule an appointment at an enrollment center to complete a background check and give fingerprints. If the $85-dollar non-refundable application fee scares you, just remember it lasts five years. You will be eligible for the fast lane in over 200 airports with 47 participating airlines (not all airlines accept TSA Pre-check passengers, please check the TSA website to see which airlines do not participate). In the Pre-Check lane, you will not be required to take off your shoes, belt or jacket and you can leave your liquids and electronic platforms in your carry-on. You can even bring your children under 12 with you through the TSA Pre-check lines so long as you are TSA Pre-check approved.
Global Entry is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows for pre-approved travelers to enter the U.S. quickly through Global Entry kiosks. Global entry kiosks are not located in every airport, be sure to check which airports have these kiosks. To be eligible for Global Entry you must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. lawful permanent resident or a citizen on the following countries:
- United Kingdom
- South Korea
- Mexican nationals
Every family member traveling together must apply and be approved. To be approved you will need to apply online, undergo a rigorous background check and an in-person interview before enrollment.
How Long is Global Entry Valid and How Much Does it Cost?
Global Entry is valid for five years and the the non-refundable application fee is $100. The interview process takes place at one of many enrollment centers. Once you are accepted into the program the only item you need to present at the kiosk is your U.S. passport or your U.S. permanent resident card. If you are accepted into the Global Entry program and you are a U.S. citizen, you are automatically eligible for TSA Pre-check just use your membership number as a known traveler number during the airline reservation process.
Programa Viajero Confiable (Trusted Traveler Program)
Members of Global Entry who are 18 years or older qualify for Programa Viajero Confiable which gives travelers expedited clearance when entering Mexico. In addition to an application you must pay a non-refundable $88 fee and interview at a participating Mexico airport. The five-year membership allows you to enter Mexico quickly and safely through automated kiosks located at participating airports including Mexico City International, San Jose Cabo International and Cancun International.
NEXUS is a border protection program that allows pre-screened travelers to have expedited processing when entering the U.S. and Canada. NEXUS is available for U.S. Citizens, those that are lawful permanent residents, Canadian citizens and lawful permanent citizens of Canada. In order to become a member, you must apply online, pay the non-refundable $50 application fee and visit to a NEXUS enrollment center for an interview. The NEXUS membership lasts for five years. If you become a member of NEXUS, you can utilize the dedicated fast processing lanes at the northern border entry ports. Travelers can use NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air and Global Entry kiosks when entering the U.S. via Canadian pre-clearance airports. Refer to the Global Entry kiosk locations in the Global Entry section above. In addition, if you are accepted into the NEXUS program, you are eligible for TSA Pre-check by applying your membership number as a known traveler number during the airline reservation process.
SENTRI is a border protection program designed for commuters to and from Canada and Mexico to have expedited clearance upon arrival into the United States. There are three fees associated with SENTRI: a non-refundable $25 application fee, a $14.50 finger print fee (ages 14 and older) and a $82.75 system cost fee. However, there are discounts for families including a $50 application fee per family. The maximum system fee a family would pay is $160. In order to obtain membership, you will be required to have proof of citizenship and admissibility documentation. For this five-year membership, expedited clearance travelers must become pre-approved by filling out the application and undergoing a rigorous background check and in-person interview at one of the SENTRI enrollment centers. Like Global Entry and NEXUS, members of SENTRI are eligible for TSA Pre-check by applying their membership number as the known traveler number during the airline reservation process.
CLEAR is a private company whose biometric scanning kiosks save passengers time by allowing them to skip the long ID check lines. All you have to do is scan you boarding pass and complete either an iris or fingerprint scan. In order to apply for CLEAR, you must be 18 years or older with a valid U.S. driver’s license, U.S. passport, U.S. permanent resident card or state or military ID with a photo. To apply, pre-enroll online and then visit an enrollment center and register your biometric information. The membership costs $15 a month or $179 a year. Check with your airline as some offer discounted rates with their various programs. CLEAR is not offered at every airport; for a list of airports please visit the CLEAR cities page. The graphic below demonstrates the difference between Clear, TSA Pre-check and the regular TSA process.