Homeland Security: The Trusted Travelers Program
The United States U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency has developed Trusted Traveler Programs to help frequent international travelers exit and reenter the U.S. more quickly and efficiently.
These programs work well for Americans who travel abroad extensively for business or pleasure or commercial truck drivers who routinely haul goods to and from Mexico and Canada.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, “These programs provide modified screening for pre-approved members, improve security by being more efficient during screenings, and facilitate legitimate trade and travel.”
How to Find the Program That Suits Your Travel Needs
The Department of Homeland Security has a few different programs, each designed to streamline the security process for different scenarios and various types of travelers.
Global Entry Program
The Global Entry Program is intended for use by travelers who will be arriving back to the U.S. from international destinations. There is no paperwork to fill out for customs declarations, you can use a kiosk to clear immigration quickly and easily, and this program includes TSA Pre✓®. You will need a passport or U.S. I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card. The Global Entry Program costs $100 for a 5-year membership.
The TSA Pre✓® program is designed for frequent domestic travelers. You will speed through the lines at security and don’t need to remove your shoes, belts, jackets, any liquids or laptops. You can enroll within 2-3 weeks, and you can use any government photo ID. The TSA Pre✓® program costs $85 for a 5-year membership.
The SENTRI program is ideal for people who travel back and forth between Mexico and the U.S. It affords users the right to use expedited SENTRI lanes when reentering the country via vehicle or pedestrian entry. You must have a passport, I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card, or birth certificate along with other applicable visas for entry into the U.S. SENTRI costs $122.50 for a 5-year membership.
The NEXUS program is perfect for people who frequently travel between Canada and the U.S. This program streamlines the customs form reporting process and greatly reduces the time spent in lines. It also expedites vehicle processing and includes TSA Pre✓®. You must have a passport, U.S. I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card, or birth certificate and any other applicable documents to reenter the U.S. NEXUS costs $50 for a 5-year membership.
FAST (North or South)
The FAST program is for commercial truck drivers who transport low-risk shipments between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico. Drivers gain access to FAST shipping lanes. You must have a passport, U.S. I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card, or birth certificate along with any visas or other documentation necessary to reenter the U.S. FAST costs $50 for a 5-year membership.
How Can I Prepare for My Interview?
Once you have been conditionally approved for the Trusted Traveler Program, you will need to schedule an interview with your CBP officer. It is best to be prepared ahead of time with everything you need to make this step quick and easy.
Be sure to print out your approval letter and bring that and your membership number/PASSID with you to your interview appointment. You should also visit the TTP website and go to your dashboard to review the list of paperwork required when you visit. Each program requires slightly different paperwork.
You should also bring with you your valid ID/passport and permanent resident card (if that applies to you). You will also need to provide proof of residency by bringing your driver’s license and a mortgage statement, rental payment statement, utility bill, etc.
If you have been fingerprinted after an arrest or incident, you must also bring the related court documents to your interview.
What Are the Benefits of Being Part of These Programs?
There are numerous benefits to using the Trusted Traveler Programs. Each program is designed for a different type of traveler. Some are for vehicle travel only between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico and others are for international flight travel.
The main benefit of each program is to provide the traveler with highly expedited processing through customs and immigration. Generally, there are no lines to wait in, there is no paperwork to fill out and significantly reduced wait times for reentry. These programs also allow access to expedited benefits in other countries as well, along with TSA Pre✓® eligibility. The Trusted Traveler Programs are available in most major U.S. airports.
Enrollment and Resources
Pre-enrollment for all the programs can be started online and then in-person with an interview. You can also visit any authorized enrollment center to begin the process. With some of the programs, once you are enrolled, you can pass through customs quickly and easily by scanning your ID card and fingerprints, nothing else. No need to get out your passport when re-entering the U.S.
To enroll in the following programs, visit these websites:
There is also a comparison of the different programs and eligibility requirements.
Each program is good for five years, but you will have to pay a membership fee. You will also need to be fingerprinted and verify your identity and residency as well before approval. Consult the Department of Homeland Security or The United States U.S. Customs and Border Protection for further details on the programs and enrollment.