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SENTRI - Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection

SENTRI is the world's first automated dedicated commuter lane, using advanced Automatic Vehicle Identification (AVI) technology modified to meet the stringent law enforcement needs at the border, while at the same time providing a more efficient means of traffic management, thereby reducing congestion. SENTRI is a border management process that has allowed the Bureau of Customs and Border Proteciton to vigorously enforce the law and swiftly accelerate the inspections of certain low risk, pre-enrolled crossers at ports of entry.

How the SENTRI system works
Diagram Source: www.iitmadras.org

What is SENTRI

A team of law enforcement experts from the INS, U.S. Customs Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Transportation, and the United States Attorney to the Southern District of California designed the SENTRI(Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection) program, launched by US Customs and Border Protection, border crossing system for the use of low risk, pre-enrolled international travelers who frequently cross the border. When an approved international traveler approaches the border in the SENTRI lane, the system automatically identifies the vehicle and validates the identity of the occupants of the vehicle. This is accomplished three ways:

  • Through data maintained in a SENTRI enrollment system computer (which includes digitized photographs of the vehicles occupants)
  • From data accessed by a magnetic stripe reader and the border crosser's Port Pass Identification Number.
  • By an inspector's visual comparison of the vehicle and its passengers with the data on a computer screen. Simultaneously, automatic digital license plate readers and computers perform queries of the vehicles and their occupants against law enforcement databases that are continuously updated.

A combination of electric gates, tire shredders, traffic control lights, fixed iron bollards, and pop-up pneumatic bollards ensure physical control of the border crosser and their vehicles. Using computer generated random compliance checks, and the Inspectors own initiative, the Federal Inspection agencies have detected only minor violations of customs and immigration laws.

How much faster is the border wait with the SENTRI Pass?

Participants in the program wait for much shorter periods of time than regular lanes to enter the United States, even at the busiest time of day. On average SENTRI Lanes are 30 to 40 seconds per vehicle faster than standard lanes. Each SENTRI inspection is an average of 10 seconds.
How can I get an application?

To apply for the SENTRI program, you need to fill out Form I-823 (Application - Alternative Inspection Services) the Form I-823 is available on the US Citizen and Immigration Website

How to Apply for a SENTRI Pass

The SENTRI Program requires all applicants to enroll in person at the SENTRI Enrollment Center. Enrollment is by appointment only. To schedule your appointment contact one of the following offices:

Otay Mesa Port of Entry
2500 Paseo Internacional
San Diego, CA 92154
Phone: 619.690.7600
Phone Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 3pm
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 8pm

El Paso Texas Ysletta Port of Entry
797 X. Zaragoza Rd, Building A
El Paso, TX 79907
Phone: 915.872.3472
Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 4pm

Obtaining a SENTRI Pass via the Internet

You may apply for a SENTRI Pass on the internet at U.S. Customs and Border Protection Website

What information will I need to get a SENTRI Pass?

Forms must be completed prior to the applicant's arrival at the Enrollment Center. The applicant must also provide originals and copies of the following documents at that time:

  • Evidence of Citizenship. Birth Certificate, U.S. Passport or Naturalization Certificate.
  • Valid Passport/Visa or other entry document, if applicable.
  • Evidence of Lawful Permanent Residence in the United States, if applicable.
  • Valid Driver's License issued by the state in which you reside.
  • Current Vehicle Registration (not vehicle title) and evidence of U.S. Automobile Insurance If the vehicle is not registered in the name of the applicant, a notarized letter authorizing its use by the applicant is needed. A company vehicle requires written authorization on company letterhead. Vehicles registered in Mexico must be covered by an insurance policy written by a company authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in the U.S.
  • Evidence of Employment or Financial Support. Most recent year's tax return, most recent pay receipts, or Direct Deposit Salary Statement. Self-employed applicants must present business license, current tax information, and bank statements.
  • Evidence of Residence. Mortgage or rent payment receipts and utility bills

A non-refundable $25.00 application fee and a $24.00 fingerprint fee are required in the initial interview. Upon completion of the interview, the applicant's fingerprints are taken, copies of all documents made, and an applicant file is created.

The applicant will be contacted at a later date for a final appointment, during which the vehicle will be inspected and a transponder issued for the registered vehicle. Upon successful completion of the application process and the vehicle inspection, each applicant will be enrolled in the SENTRI DCL system and issued a SENTRI DCL Port Pass. Minor applicants under the age of 14 will not be fingerprinted. However, their presence is required for the enrollment process. Should there be situations in which minor children under the age of 18 will be enrolled as participants without their parents/legal guardians, the parent or legal guardian must accompany their minor applicant during all steps of the application process.

SENTRI Pass Costs
  • Application Fee: $25.00 per person (or a maximum of $50.00 total for husband, wife and minor children)
  • Fingerprint Fee: $24.00
  • System Costs Fee: $80.00 per person (or a maximum of $160.00 total for a husband, wife and minor children)
  • Total Fee is $129.00 per person.

If you wish to register more than one vehicle for use in the SENTRI DCL lane (maximum of 4 vehicles), an additional fee of $42.00 per vehicle will be assessed. If your card gets lost or stolen there is a $25.00 replacement fee, and a $42.00 replacement fee for a lost, stolen or destroyed transponder.

For further Information about the SENTRI program contact the US Customs and Border Website

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