Several crossings along the U.S. and Mexican border now allow pre-approved travelers a fast track back to the U.S. By registering for Sentri cards or other quick-pass identification cards, travelers can use the Ready Lanes to speed up the customs and crossing process. For frequent travelers to Mexico, this is incredibly convenient as wait times during peak periods can be as long as two hours! By using a fast-track card like Sentri, drivers and passengers can cut their passage time to about ten minutes.
Launched several years back, the Sentri program is designed to make the customs process more efficient and to fast-track northbound traffic without compromising safety. Travelers may register for a Sentri card and once approved, they are issued a Radio Frequency Identification card that holds all of their required information that customs officers need to check. In order to use the Sentri card and the Ready Lanes, every person, children included, in the vehicle must each have their own Radio Frequency Identification. Though not every border crossing is currently equipped with Ready Lanes, there are plans to have them installed at other border crossings.
Currently, travelers will find Ready Lanes at these locations:
- Hidalgo, Texas
- San Ysidro, California,
- Laredo, Texas,
- Calexico, California
- Brownsville, Texas
- Nogales, Arizona
- Anzalduas, Texas
- Otay Mesa, California
- El Paso, Texas
- San Luis, Arizona
Like the Nexus program that is in place between the U.S. and Canada, the Ready Lanes program supports other RFID chip cards like the Sentri card. Currently, however, electronic passports are not allowed since their software in not compatible with the technology at the customs stations on the border. Other cards accepted at the border crossing between Mexico and the U.S. include: Enhanced Driver’s License, Enhanced Tribal card, and U.S. Passport cards.
Register for a Sentri Card
Anyone may apply for a Sentri card. To be approved, however, an applicant must fall into the “low-risk” category to be approved. Anyone with a history of violations and convictions may not be eligible for program participation. Applicants may easily register online. They can also enroll at border crossings at Sentri Enrollment Centers. Minors can obtain Sentri cards, too; guardians must present all required paperwork before minors can be approved.
More Information for Ready Lanes and Sentri Cards
Travelers will notice Ready Lanes signage during their approach to participating border crossings. Drivers and passengers should have their cards ready for presentation to a customs officer. Since no group or family cards can be issued, each person in the vehicle must be prepared to present their RFID cards.
For more information about RFID chip programs and their fees, check out this website at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/sentri/faqs/sentri_faqs2.xml. Applicants can pay fees using their bank or credit cards.
At the CBP.gov website, travelers can find more information about questions of eligibility and the registration process. The online version of the application is immensely streamlined and easy to use. Most enhanced travelers’ cards are viable for five years. Obtaining the cards can greatly diminish the headache of waiting times at the border