Should I Apply for the NEXUS Program?

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NEXUS is one of a hand full of Trusted Traveler Programs launched by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expedite the entry process through immigration. The difference with NEXUS is that it also provides expedited entry into Canada. And although NEXUS isn’t marketed as heavily as Global Entry, it’s arguably more valuable than Global Entry. Here’s a guide to NEXUS with everything you need to know. 


What is NEXUS?

Some describe NEXUS as the “Canadian version of Global Entry,” but I don’t think that’s quite accurate since that would mean the program just offers you expedited entry into Canada. But the program is much more than that.

NEXUS is a joint program between the US and Canada that will grant pre-approved, low-risk travelers expedited entry into both Canada and the US. Specifically, membership in the NEXUS program allows you to reduce your wait times at designated ports of entry by:

  • Using dedicated processing lanes at land border crossings
  • Using NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada
  • Using their card in dedicated SENTRI lanes along the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Using Global Entry kioks when entering the United States, and
  • Calling a marine telephone reporting center to report your arrival into the United States and Canada

You may also be granted access to the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) Security Line at some Canadian airports to expedite airport pre-boarding security screening. (This is like a Canadian version of TSA Pre-Check.)


Who is eligible for NEXUS?

  • U.S. citizens
  • U.S. lawful permanent residents
  • Canadian citizens
  • and Canadian lawful permanent residents
  • If you are under the age of 18, you must have your parent or legal guardian’s consent to participate in the program.

Note the eligibility for NEXUS is not quite as broad as it is for Global Entry, which allows for citizens of some other countries to apply.


Does NEXUS require a background check? 

Just like Global Entry, NEXUS will require you to clear a background check. The difference is that this background check also is submitted to Canadian authorities, such as the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

Thus, if you have done any of the following, there’s a chance that you might not be eligible:

  • Provide false or incomplete information on the application;
  • Have been convicted of any criminal offense or have pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants (to include driving under the influence);
  • Have been found in violation of any customs, immigration or agriculture regulations or laws in any country;
  • Are the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency;
  • Are inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulation, including applicants with approved waivers of inadmissibility or parole documentation; or
  • Cannot satisfy CBP or Canada Border Services Agency of your low-risk status

Both the United States and Canada must approve your application. Denial of an application by either country will prevent you from participating in the NEXUS program.


How do I apply for NEXUS? 

You apply for NEXUS in the same way you apply for Global Entry. Head over to the TTP website where you can begin your application. 

One of the major draws to the NEXUS  program is that the application fee is only $50. This is surprising since NEXUS comes with both Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check (Pre-Check is offered for  for U.S. Citizens, U.S. lawful permanent residents and Canadian citizens). Global Entry would cost you $100 so Nexus is half the price with even more benefits, which is pretty amazing. 

Unfortunately, you cannot use credits on cards like the Platinum Card from American Express or Chase Sapphire Reserve to cover this fee like you could for Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check.

Note: there is no fee for applicants under the age of 18 although they must still fill out a separate application form.


Do I have to do an interview for NEXUS?

This is probably the biggest drawback to the NEXUS program. You have to go in for an interview but have to do it at one of the limited locations near the U.S./Canada border. You can check for NEXUS enrollment center here. (Note that the website lists each state on the page but only a few of the northern states will actually have an enrollment center, so I’d rather search here. 

Like Global Entry, there are often long wait times for scheduling an interview but it’s often possible to continuously check the schedule to see if anything opens up to get your interview done sooner.


What airports can I use NEXUS at? 

NEXUS kiosks are located at the following airports:

  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
  • Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)

You can also find NEXUS kiosks at the following land crossings:

Nexus lanes are located at the following land border crossings:

  • Alexandria Bay, New York
  • Blaine, Washington (Pacific Highway)
  • Blaine, Washington (Peace Arch)
  • Buffalo, New York (Peace Bridge)
  • Calais, Maine
  • Champlain, New York
  • Detroit, Michigan (Ambassador Bridge)
  • Detroit, Michigan (Detroit-Windsor Tunnel)
  • Highgate Springs, Vermont
  • Houlton, Maine
  • Niagara Falls, New York (Lewiston Bridge)
  • Niagara Falls, New York (Whirlpool Bridge)
  • Pembina, North Dakota
  • Point Roberts, Washington
  • Port Huron, Michigan (Blue Water Bridge)
  • Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (International Bridge)
  • Sweetgrass, Montana
  • Sumas, Washington

Don’t forget that you also have access to Global Entry which is found at tons of airports around the US.


Can others use the NEXUS lines with me? 

Only Trusted Travelers who have successfully been through the application and interview process can use NEXUS kiosks. Thus, if anybody traveling with you does not have a NEXUS membership, they will have to go through a separate line.


NEXUS cards

Like Global Entry, you’ll receive a membership identification card to use when entering Canada or the United States at all designated NEXUS air, land and marine ports of entry. Note that there is a non-refundable $25 (USD) fee to replace a NEXUS card that is damaged, lost or stolen.


Can I use my NEXUS card instead of my passport? 

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the NEXUS card has been approved as an alternative to the passport for sea, air, and land travel into the United States for U.S. and Canadian citizens. With that said, I’d still carry my passport because you never know what kind of customs agent you might run into. They might be in the wrong in some instances by asking you to show your passport but if you’ve got it on hand you can potentially avoid a long, unnecessary ordeal.

Also, you’ll still need your passport to process through Global Entry Kiosks (that are not pre-clearance stations in Canada). So I recommend that you bring your passport with you anytime you are crossing any international border. 


Final word 

NEXUS is arguably the #1 Trusted Traveler Program since it’s cheaper (for some) and comes with expedited entry into Canada along with Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check. The only issue is the location of the enrollment centers but if you can make it to one and pass the interview, I think it’d be worth at least considering over Global Entry.

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