Trusted Traveler Programs Ease Entry Into the United States

Calendar Icon Updated January 15, 2019
Visas

Low-risk travelers who want to go enter the United States more quickly and easily can take advantage of a variety of U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-approved programs. Trusted Traveler Programs allow entry into the United States at airports, ports of entry and border crossings through kiosks and dedicated lanes that cut waiting times significantly. These programs include:

  • Global Entry – low-risk, pre-approved travelers arriving in the United States can enter the country through automatic kiosks at participating airports.
  • NEXUS – pre-screened travelers will enjoy expedited processing upon entering Canada and the United States.
  • SENTRI – low-risk, pre-approved travelers can use dedicated lanes to enter the United States at Southern land border ports.
  • FAST – low-risk cargo shipments can take part in this trusted commercial shipping program to allow expedited entry of goods into the United States from Canada and Mexico.

All programs require a thorough background check, screening and an interview process prior to approval.

If you’re a frequent traveler in and out of the United States, you can rack up a lot of time spent waiting for clearance at the United States border and borders of other countries. Fortunately, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has set up the Trusted Traveler programs to ease this transition from country to country. However, there are still processes, forms, interviews and procedures you must follow to save time in the long run.

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For many, working through the registration process won’t pose a problem. But for others who need help Eligibility.com is ready to assist you. In most instances, you can access the information you need on Trusted Traveler programs by reading this guide or through our website. But if you want more help, we’re here for you.

As part of our pledge to be your one-stop resource, Eligibility.com has a trained staff of professionals who can get you the answers about Trusted Traveler programs, as well as dozens of other government services and programs.

If you can’t find the information you need in this guide, we encourage you to contact us through this website, by e-mail, or by calling us at 888-959-1135. The best part is, as a public service, our help is FREE. 

The Global Entry Program

After passing a background check, citizens and lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) can be issued a Global Entry Card. This allows them to use automated Global Entry kiosks at selected airports in the United States. 

Entry is as simple as inserting their passport into a machine-readable scanner, using a fingerprint scanner for verification, and filling out a customs declaration form. Travelers are issued a receipt and are free to enter the country at that point. 

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Kiosks for the Global Entry Program are located in these airports:

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)

Anchorage – Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)

Aruba – Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA)

Austin – Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS)

Burlington International Airport (BTV)

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT)

Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)

Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)

Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)

Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)

Denver International Airport (DEN)

Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

Dublin Airport (DUB)

Edmonton International Airport (YEG)

Fairbanks International Airport (FAI)

Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston (IAH)

Guam International Airport (GUM)

Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

Honolulu International Airport (HNL)

John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York (JFK)

John Wayne Airport (SNA)

Lambert – St. Louis International Airport (STL)

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas (LAS)

Miami International Airport (MIA)

Milwaukee – General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP)

Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

Nassau – Sir Lynden Pindling International Airport, Bahamas (NAS)

Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)

Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB)

Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)

Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)

Portland International Airport (PDX)

Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)

Saipan International Airport (SPN)

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)

San Antonio International Airport (SAT)

San Diego International Airport (SAN)

San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

San Jose International Airport (SJC)

San Juan-Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport (SJU)

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport-SeaTac (SEA)

Shannon Airport (SNN)

Tampa International Airport (TPA)

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)

To apply for the Global Entry Program, you must create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account. You can then log in to your GOES account and complete a Global Entry Program application and pay an application fee. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will review your application and if approved, then you will be instructed to schedule an interview at a Global Entry Enrollment Center and be advised what documents you will need to bring to the interview. 

See a complete list of the locations of Global Entry Enrollment Centers.

The NEXUS Program

This program allows pre-screened United States and Canadian citizens, and lawful permanent citizens from both countries, expedited entry into the U.S. and Canada. 

To become a member of this program, both the United States and Canada must approve a NEXUS application. If you are under 18 years old, you must have your parents’ permission to participate in the NEXUS Program

Much like the Global Entry program, travelers are able to use dedicated lanes and kiosks at border crossings when moving between the two countries. NEXUS members also get expedited clearance at certain marine entry locations as well.

Kiosks for the NEXUS Program are located in these airports:

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

Edmonton International Airport (YEG)

Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)

Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)

Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)

Nexus lanes are located at these land border crossings:

Alexandria Bay, New York

Blaine, Washington (Pacific Highway)

Blaine, Washington (Peace Arch)

Buffalo, New York (Peace Bridge)

Calais, Maine

Champlain, New York

Detroit, Michigan (Ambassador Bridge)

Detroit, Michigan (Detroit-Windsor Tunnel)

Highgate Springs, Vermont

Houlton, Maine

Niagara Falls, New York (Lewiston Bridge)

Niagara Falls, New York (Whirlpool Bridge)

Pembina, North Dakota

Point Roberts, Washington

Port Huron, Michigan (Blue Water Bridge)

Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (International Bridge)

Sweetgrass, Montana

Sumas, Washington

To enroll in the NEXUS program, travelers must first create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account and pay an application fee. This can be done online or through the mail. Mail your application as follows:

Residents of Ontario and the United States:
NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
6080 McLeod Road
PO Box 126
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 6T1
Residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and the Yukon:
NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
6080 McLeod Road
PO Box 126
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 6T1
Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec:
NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
400 Place d’Youville
Montréal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 2C2

Once a GOES application is approved, applicants will be directed to set up an interview at a NEXUS Enrollment Center. 

After you receive your NEXUS card, entry into either Canada or the United States is as simple as having your NEXUS card read by a scanner and undergoing a quick visual inspection.

The SENTRI Program

The Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) is another program for low risk and pre-approved individuals traveling to the United States. 

SENTRI participants use vehicular dedicated lanes at points of entry into the United States along the country’s southern land borders. Mexican nationals enrolled in SENTRI must use a GOES account to obtain entry into the United States. 

As part of the screening process, participants going through a screening interview must bring a passport, vehicle registration and proof of automobile insurance. If you are under 18 years old, you must have your parents’ permission to participate in the SENTRI Program.

Applying for the SENTRI Program is just like applying for other Trusted Traveler programs. First, you must create a Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account. You can then log in to your GOES account and complete a Global Entry Program application and pay an application fee. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will review your application and if approved, then you will be instructed to schedule an interview at a SENTRI Enrollment Center and be advised what documents you will need to bring to the interview. 

See a complete list of where SENTRI Enrollment Centers.

The FAST Program

While other Trusted Traveler Programs focus on travelers, the Free and Secure Trade program is designed to pre-screen low-risk shipments of goods coming into the United States from Canada and Mexico. This program gives commercial carriers and their truck drivers expedited clearance from all three countries. 

To qualify, every link in the goods supply chain must be certified under the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism C-TPAT) program. Participants in this program must also enroll in the GOES program. They must also be at least 18 years old and have a valid driver’s license.

It should also be noted that there are separate FAST enrollments for the north and south borders of the United States. FAST North will work at both borders, but FAST South participants will need to gain separate approval for benefits on the northern border.

FAST Enrollment Centers are located in almost all states and in locations in Canada. See a complete list of FAST Enrollment Centers.

About the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES)

The Global Online Enrollment System is an umbrella application that allows travelers to register for U.S. Customs and Border Protection Trusted Traveler Programs. GOES allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to conduct necessary background checks on applicants and pre-approve them to make applications for the Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST programs.

Transportation Security Administration’s Pre-Check Program

When travelers are enrolled in Trusted Traveler programs, they also become eligible to utilize the Transportation Authority Administration Pre-Check program. This is an expedited security program that gives frequent travelers a better overall air travel experience at more than 150 participating airports. It is open to United States citizens, U.S. Nationals and lawful permanent residents. 

Foreign citizens enrolled in the Global Entry program can also take part in the Pre-Check program. Pre-Check is available for passengers flying within the United States and when leaving the United States to fly to an international destination. In addition, there is no age limit when applying for Pre-Check. Family members 12 and under can also enjoy Pre-Check expedited screening when they travel with an eligible parent who is already enrolled in the program. 

Among other things, that means you won’t have to go through invasive TSA flight screenings where you may be asked to remove your shoes, open your laptops for inspection, take off belts and light jackets or worry about the confiscation of 3-1-1 liquids.

Several airlines offer the TSA Pre-Check Program, including

  • Air Canada
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Allegiant Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Air
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jetblue Airways
  • OneJet
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Sun Country
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • WestJet

There are currently more than 150 airports participating in the Pre-Check program nationwide. To see if a particular airport is a part of the program, the Transportation Security Administration maintains an interactive map.

When you are approved for the Pre-Check program, you are assigned a KTN to use when making flight reservations. KTN stands for Known Traveler Number and it is printed on your boarding pass. When you arrive at the airport, signs will direct you to special check-in areas for KTN travelers that will expedite your travel experience.

To apply, complete an online application.

Once your application is complete, you’ll need to make an appointment to visit a Pre-Check enrollment center where you’ll be asked to provide fingerprints, pay an $85 enrollment fee, and supply required enrollment documents, including a U.S. passport or a driver’s license and a birth certificate.

You will receive a written notice in about two to three weeks after your appointment that will either confirm your approval and give you a KTN or deny your entry into the program.

For other questions regarding entry into the United States, see our Ultimate Guide to Visas.

Eligibility Team

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