SENTRI License Plate Change

foto por SDUT

Yes, I am a frequent border crosser and enjoy the challenge of the San Ysidro border crossing.  SENTRI pass makes it a lot more fun and efficient.

Passed through SENTRI twice without incident recently.  Third time crossing in a month, received a puzzled CBP agent asking “Where do you live?”.  He then motioned me through with a “For some reason, I don’t see your vehicle registered.  But, go ahead.”.

Most of the time, CBP is asking a question to see HOW you answer, not caring what your answer is.  But, the confused look on this fellow’s face was new to me.  After all, CBP likely knows how many times I have visited Commercial Mexicana in Ensenada and Lowes  in San Diego.  In the 2+ hours it takes me to get from my house north to the SY/TJ border, I am usually in a fog and ready for coffee, food or other relief.

About 2 hours later during shopping, the CBP agent’s attitude became clear to me.  South Dakota had just issued new license plates with new #s/letters for me in February.  I was fortunate that I wasn’t thrown into the secondary stalag.

btw, I preferred the red/white/blue SoDakota plates vs the blue and tan 2016 issue.

So why no mention those previous 2 crossing with my new plates???

Wanting to keep my precious SENTRI status unblemished, I went into the GOES/SENTRI website.  Gotta love the hidden website design for changing your license plate.  From the website:

I am a current SENTRI member and I have new license plates. How do I report it?

To avoid potential delays in processing, you must verify and update your vehicle license plate information. SENTRI members who do not update their license plate information may be delayed as CBP Officers attempt to verify license plate information.

Login to the GOES website and go to your home page and click on the link provided for your SENTRI program. After you select the program link, an additional link is provided to Update Vehicle License.


Where the flock is the link to Update Vehicle License?   Oh, you, have to hunt and peck and back and forth and luck out by hitting the Manage Membership button.

The next screen also provides no clue.  Only by hunt and peck do you find the magic passage.  It is hidden under the “U.S. Programs” sub menu choices.  C’mon Doc, anyone would clearly know this, eh?

sentrilicenseplateNext challenge in the website navigation test is changing the license plate.  Can’t think how many times I hit the “next” button with no progress.  If I had more than one vehicle, my error would have been more intuitive.


Gotta hit the tiny little button on right side before proceeding.

If CBP happens to see this post, I’m certain to be thrown into secondary on my next trip.  Would love to help their web designer come up with a more customer friendly process while there.




  1. zoe f. jussel
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 07:38 | Permalink | Reply

    Made me laugh, because I just added a car and it took me hiring a private investigator to find the location and links. I finally googled it, but it could less convoluted, for sure!

    Posted May 4, 2016 at 07:41 | Permalink | Reply

    thanks for the heads up doc…. very helpful


  3. Posted May 4, 2016 at 07:42 | Permalink | Reply

    Navigating (or not) the GOES website is part of the SENTRI weeding out process. Only the determined succeed.

  4. Posted May 12, 2016 at 07:51 | Permalink | Reply

    Wow! Great write up and very useful! Yeah…the GOES website is not exactly user friendly, that’s for sure. We are actively trying to do something about it for those folk who are interested but are confused w GOES. We got all the application questions down on one page:

    I actually forgot to activate my Global Entry card before using it in SENTRI lanes and got sent to secondary. Oops!

    That’s for above info. I’m updating a lot of my pages and will link to ya.

  5. bajadulces
    Posted November 12, 2016 at 15:11 | Permalink | Reply

    Having switched to SD plates, I went back to this saved email. When I got to the place where it should say “Update Vehicle License” as shown, guess what — one can only add or delete a vehicle.

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