Developed after the 9/11 attacks, the Trusted Traveler Programs of US CBP and TSA (Global Entry, TSA Pre✓®, SENTRI, NEXUS, and FAST) are risk-based programs to facilitate the entry of pre-approved travelers and in some cases, cargo shipments. All applicants are vetted to ensure that they meet the qualifications for the program to which they are applying. Participants in each program are charged a differential fee; CBP has proposed to harmonized those fees.
Of the five TT Programs, I have found TSA Precheck and Customs’ Global Entry to be of most relevance value. TSA Precheck enables you to bypass often massive lines at major airports and I’ve often made a flight that I otherwise would have missed. Having no need to remove shoes or laptops adds to the convenience and gets rid of considerable annoyance. Precheck currently assesses Precheck holders $85 for a five-year term.
Global Entry empowers the member to electronically register their passport upon arrival in the US, with a scan of their fingerprints and fast tracking through Immigration and Customs; many times when returning from overseas, I have been able to get through both lines in five minutes while the “regular” return line looked like it would take a good hour to process. Customs has proposed raising the five-year membership fee to $120 from $100.
SENTRI is a program that provides expedited vehicle and pedestrian entrance into U.S. from Canada and Mexico. Its cost for five years’ membership is currently $122.
NEXUS membership allows Canadian and returning US cross-border travelers into the US from Canada to avoid lines and save time, including as pedestrians. Membership in NEXUS cost only $ 50 for five years.
FAST, short for Free and Secure Trade, is a purely cargo-related program; it enables customs processing for commercial carriers. It provides expedited US Mexico Border Crossing for commercial drivers who are predetermined low-risk Canadian, Mexican and US citizens with commercial driving licenses. FAST North applies to Canadian trucks entering the US whereas FAST South provides similar benefits for Mexican carriers crossing into the United States. Also, FAST members gain the right to use designated FAST lanes to much more quickly transport goods into the U.S. Every applicant must show that its entries supply chain is covered by C-TPAT. Anyone who has witnessed the cross-border slowdowns at Laredo can appreciate the value and efficiency of FAST. The cost of FAST membership is $50 for five years.
Robin W. Grover