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Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS are programs offered by the United States Customs & Border Protection Bureau (CBP) which offer expedited immigration procedures to travelers considered low-risk by the US authorities. The fees for these programs haven’t changed in years but a new filing by the CBP suggests that the bureau will be seeking to increase the fees charged by two of the three programs while the fee charged for the third will decrease slightly.
Trusted Traveler Program Fees Set To Increase
As things stand, the fee for Global Entry is $100, the fee for NEXUS is just $50, while SENTRI costs $122.50. The filling from the CBP suggests that the fees for all three programs should be standardized at $120 each. (Note: the filing also says that CBP intends to publish a separate Federal Register notice that addresses the NEXUS application fee but this doesn’t alter the fact that the fee is set to rise).
In addition to the above, the CBP filing says that it proposes to exempt “certain minors” from these application fees. Specifically:
- Minors under the age of 18 who apply to the Global Entry or SENTRI program will be exempt from payment of the application fee if the minor’s parent or legal guardian applies concurrently with the minor or if the parent or legal guardian is an existing member of the same program to which the minor is applying.
Minors are already exempt from paying a NEXUS application fee.
A further concession (of sorts) that the CBP is proposing is the expansion of Global Entry to preclearance facilities in foreign countries. This would allow more foreign airports (those with preclearance facilities) to provide dedicated CBP processing for Global Entry, NEXUS, and qualified SENTRI participants on direct outbound flights to the United States.
I don’t participate in the NEXUS or SENTRI programs so I’m going to limit my thoughts to the changes proposed to the Global Entry program.
CBP has said that the increased fees are needed as the current fees don’t cover the costs of administering the programs but that’s an argument I find hard to believe. After a traveler is given entry into one of the three programs mentioned, all further processing (the processing done at various border points) is done by computers, so the number of manhours saved is considerable. The NEXUS fee may not be enough to cover the processing of an application but I struggle to believe that the fees paid for Global Entry and SENTRI don’t cover the work need to process the applications.
If CBP had said that the extra fees are needed to fund the elimination of fees for minors and the expansion of Global Entry to more airports which already have preclearance facilities I’d be more likely to believe it.
Still, for those of us with premium credit cards that rebate the cost of Global Entry none of this will be an issue (probably). I cannot imagine the likes of Chase, Citi, or American Express refusing to improve the value of their credit card benefits by, on average, $4/year so I fully expect to see cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve continuing to rebate the full application fee even if this increase goes ahead.
For everyone else, this may not be the best news but it’s hardly disastrous either. Some people will be better off if they have minors enrolled in the same trusted traveler program as they are, while others will undoubtedly find themselves paying more but they’ll be paying more for a program that’s well worth the fee if you travel to/from the United States more than once a year (I know quite a few frequent flyers who would happily pay $120 year if it meant they didn’t have to stand in a US immigration line).
CBP is requesting permission to standardize the cost of the Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS trusted traveler programs to $120 while eliminating the fees for select minors. Everyone participating in the NEXUS program will see a very steep rise in costs but for participants in the Global Entry and SENTRI programs, this shouldn’t make too much of a difference at all. For some, membership of the trusted traveler programs will actually get cheaper.