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Global Entry vs SENTRI: Which is better for you?

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    Arriving in the United States can be an exciting time, and passing through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is a required step before you can continue. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offers several Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP) that may help ease U.S. Customs screenings. Each program has its own travel benefits and may suit individuals based on their travel needs.

    In this article, we'll review Global Entry and SENTRI, two popular TTPs with the potential to save time when traveling.

    What is SENTRI?

    SENTRI is the Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection. The program provides expedited clearance when arriving in the United States from Canada and Mexico by air and land. SENTRI membership is a membership that allows eligible travelers to access expedited lines at U.S. Customs and lasts for five years. Eligibility extends to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and all foreign nationals.

    How does SENTRI work?

    SENTRI members may access dedicated lanes at U.S. Customs when entering border ports from Canada and Mexico. There are usually lanes for both vehicles and pedestrians.

    The process of becoming a SENTRI member is the same for all applicants. The main steps include:

    • Submitting the online application
    • Paying the nonrefundable fee
    • Undergoing a background check
    • Attending an in-person appointment

    Breaking down Global Entry

    Global Entry provides expedited clearance for members upon arrival in the United States after preapproving them as low-risk travelers. The program can make passing through U.S. Customs screenings more efficient.

    The benefits of membership

    Upon arrival in the United States, Global Entry members can skip immigration paperwork and standard screening lines at participating airports. After that, members can use automatic kiosks. Members scan their passports, provide fingerprints and complete a customs declaration.

    Besides its time-saving benefits, Global Entry membership includes TSA PreCheck®. This is another TTP which allows travelers to access expedited security screening at many U.S. airports.

    The enrollment process

    Enrolling in Global Entry is similar to enrolling in SENTRI. Individuals have to submit an online application and pay the nonrefundable fee. Then, if you're conditionally approved, you can schedule an in-person interview. After attending the interview and receiving an approval, Global Entry membership lasts five years.

    Can I get Global Entry with a credit card?

    Some travel credit cards reimburse the application fee for certain Trusted Traveler Programs. Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for instance, offers a statement credit up to $100 every four years for a TSA PreCheck, Global Entry or NEXUS application fee.

    This isn't the only travel benefit of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. There are other exciting benefits and rewards opportunities that can suit many types of travelers.

    Which is better: Global Entry or SENTRI?

    Global Entry and SENTRI may suit travelers with different needs. Both programs can help expedite entry into the U.S. from international destinations. There are still several important distinctions in the programs' attributes and benefits. These distinctions may help you decide which program is better for you.


    U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents are eligible for both programs, Global Entry and SENTRI. Select foreign nationals are also eligible for Global Entry, while all foreign nationals are eligible for SENTRI. Mexican nationals enrolled in SENTRI can also apply for Global Entry, but you'd have to submit a separate application through your TTP account.


    Global Entry benefits are available at more than 75 airports in the United States. Program members may experience several specific benefits at the participating airports:

    • No paperwork required upon entry to the U.S.
    • Reduced wait times by way of designated U.S. Customs lines
    • Access to self-service kiosks or electronic gates that use facial comparison technologies

    SENTRI membership can also reduce wait times at U.S. ports of entry. Benefits include:

    • Dedicated processing lanes at southern land border crossings
    • Access to NEXUS lanes when entering the United States from Canada by land
    • Access to Global Entry automatic kiosks when entering the United States by air

    Application processing time

    Applicants tend to experience various wait times when enrolling in SENTRI and Global Entry. The time the entire process takes depends greatly on the volume of applications submitted to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

    The DHS website estimates that average Global Entry enrollment takes four to six months, while average SENTRI enrollment takes 12 to 14 months. Again, enrollment time frames can vary.


    Global Entry can be used for entering the United States from international destinations, but SENTRI is specifically for entry from Canada and Mexico.

    Mode of travel

    Both Global Entry and SENTRI allow expedited clearance at U.S. ports of entry when traveling by air and by land. However, Global Entry is also available at certain U.S. seaports.

    TSA PreCheck

    TSA PreCheck is a popular TTP that can make airport security screenings more efficient. If you have Global Entry or SENTRI, you're eligible for TSA PreCheck.

    Global Entry membership comes with a Known Traveler Number (KTN). Provide this number when booking or checking in for a flight, and you may access TSA PreCheck security lines.

    U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents enrolled in SENTRI are also eligible to participate in TSA PreCheck. When booking travel reservations or setting up a frequent flyer profile, you should enter your membership number (PASS ID) in the KTN field. The TSA can use that to confirm your SENTRI membership and eligibility for TSA PreCheck.

    Does SENTRI include any Global Entry benefits?

    U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents who are SENTRI members can usually use Global Entry kiosks at no additional cost. For Mexican nationals with SENTRI membership, a separate Global Entry application is needed to receive the program benefits. At the time of writing, SENTRI members can complete a Global Entry application through their TTP account online.

    In conclusion

    Global Entry and SENTRI both allow members to use designated screening lanes at international borders when traveling by air and land. Benefits of membership in either program can expedite entry to the United States.

    When considering Global Entry and SENTRI, remember the reimbursement benefit that's available with Chase Sapphire Reserve. The card boasts many travel benefits and rewards, including a statement credit up to $100 for a Global Entry fee every four years. To receive the credit, pay the Global Entry application fee with your Sapphire Reserve card. This reimbursement benefit is not available for any SENTRI fees.

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