Do You Have Your Sentri Card?

June 29, 2015 by Melissa Segrest


Do I  have my Sentri card?


Do I have all the current registration papers for my vehicle and are they located in the glove compartment?


Did I fill my vehicle with gas?


All of these questions are part of a mental checklist that I always go through each time I head into Mexico. Why is the Sentri card so important, and is it worth investing in?

Yes! My Sentri card is one of the most valuable things that I keep in my wallet. Sentri allows the card carrier to cross the border quickly with a 10-15 minute wait time vs. having to wait for hours in the regular lines. According to the  United States Customs and Border Protection website,

“SENTRI provides expedited CBP processing for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Applicants must voluntarily undergo a thorough biographical background check against criminal, law enforcement, customs, immigration, and terrorist indices; a 10-fingerprint law enforcement check; and a personal interview with a CBP Officer.”

This card also make air travel easier, because you qualify for TSA pre-check. (Who wouldn’t want to skip the long lines for security screening at the airport?

I know what you’re thinking---this is such a long process--is it worth it? or I already have to wait in line-why should I invest in one?

The process is long (remember how long it took to get your passport?), but it’s worth the time, and the cost to getting one. Let me tell you about this scenario: you’ve been sitting in line for over three hours, when you realize you have to go the bathroom. You’re the only one in the vehicle and can’t get out until you cross the border. Major problem right?

Well, if you have a Sentri card, average wait time is 10-15 minutes long. You could have gone to the bathroom, eaten lunch, and gassed up your vehicle in the same amount of time it would have taken you to wait in the normal lanes just to be able to cross.

Let’s talk about cost. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection website, the cost for getting a card is $122.25.  I know what you’re thinking--this is expensive! Why should I apply for one? Here are some things to consider before applying for the card.

How many times do you actually go to Mexico? Do you only cross once a year for your annual trip? Do you cross two-three times a month? If you had Sentri card, would you consider going on more short-term trips?

If you only cross once a year, this may not be for you. However, if you cross two or more times a year, it’s worth the investment.  (The card is good for five years). An important thing to remember when taking a vehicle through Sentri, the vehicle must also be Sentri approved. (This is the same process that you go through--except it's your vehicle).

Think about the possibilities, Not only would you be able to save time by not having to wait in line for so long (nor be uncomfortable because you have to use the bathroom!)- but you could come on more trips, go to a taco stand,  or maybe take a vacation in Ensenada.

So….Do I  have my Sentri card?


Am I ready to go home?


For a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the Sentri Pass visit

Topics: Mission trip guides and resources