CBP Opens RFID-Enabled Ready Lane at Mexico Border

May 9, 2011
CBP has opened a new Ready Lane at the Otay Mesa, Calif., port of entry for travelers who have a travel document enabled with RFID technology

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has opened a new Ready Lane at the Otay Mesa, Calif., port of entry for travelers who have a travel document enabled with radio frequency identification (RFID) technology.

The Ready Lane is a lane for vehicle traffic that only accepts RFID-enabled cards. The new Ready Lane at the Otay Mesa border crossing is open Monday through Friday from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. In order to use this dedicated lane, all adult passengers in the vehicle over the age of 16 must present an approved travel card. The U.S. Passport Card, SENTRI card, the new Legal Permanent Resident “green card” and the new Border Crossing Card are all RFID-enabled documents.

For example, the Ready Lane can be used by a group of travelers in one vehicle who may have different kinds of RFID-enabled travel documents, such as if the driver is a member of the SENTRI trusted traveler program, and the passengers all have other kinds of RFID-enabled documents, such as a U.S. Passport Card or a new Border Crossing Card. While only vehicles with all SENTRI members can use the dedicated SENTRI lane, a group with any mixture of RFID-enabled travel cards can use the Ready Lane.

“RFID-enabled cards allow our officers to screen travelers faster,” explains Chris Maston, director of field operations for CBP in San Diego. “By having a lane designated just for travelers with these cards, we can reduce the time everyone spends waiting to enter the country, and encourages legitimate business and tourism for our communities on both sides of the border.”

CBP has coordinated extensively with officials in Mexico to ensure that the approaches to the lane on the south side of the border will be clearly marked and easy to understand for travelers crossing between the two countries. The approach to the Ready Lane will be in Mexico, to the far west side of the lanes of traffic, about one-third of a mile before the border crossing.

Since the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizens entering the United States by land or sea from Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean are required to present a valid, WHTI-compliant document. Using a WHTI-compliant document that is an RFID-enabled travel card allows for more efficient processing of travelers at the border, since RFID technology allows CBP officers to receive information about travelers faster.

WHTI is the joint Department of State-Department of Homeland Security plan that implemented a key 9/11 Commission recommendation to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.

CBP recently opened Ready Lanes in Blaine, Wash., Nogales, Ariz. and Progreso, Texas, and has plans to implement additional Ready Lanes at the Lukeville, Douglas, and San Luis ports of entry over the next few months.

Travelers using the Ready Lane should follow these three steps as they approach a U.S. land port of entry with their RFID-enabled travel card:

1. Stop at the beginning of the lane and make sure each passenger has their card out.

2. When it is your turn, drive slowly through the lane and hold all cards up on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

3. Stop at the officer’s booth.

CBP continues to strongly encourage travelers to obtain RFID-enabled cards to expedite their entry and to help make crossing the border more efficient.

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