a close-up of a passport

Why you should get NEXUS now!

What is NEXUS? NEXUS is a bilateral immigration and customs program between Canada and the United States. Any person who gets NEXUS is auto-enrolled in Global Entry (but people who register for Global Entry aren’t auto-enrolled in NEXUS.) With this program, you receive a number of benefits: you bypass all lines for customs/immigration at both Canadian and US points of entry, including the US pre-clearance facilities located in Ottawa, Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, and Winnipeg. Moreover, because NEXUS members are also Global Entry members, they have fast-track access to pre-clearance facilities in Aruba, The Bahamas, Bermuda, Shannon, Dublin, and Abu Dhabi. Clearance works by providing your biometric information to a computer system located to the side of immigration, and the system identifies you and clears you automatically. You rarely need to speak to an official, which makes the process of immigration/customs clearance that much easier. Moreover, you receive priority access to a number of security lines (i.e. you use the crew line, or a special line dedicated to NEXUS members), and you’re auto-enrolled in the TSA Pre✓ program

You can also use your NEXUS card for border crossings by car, rail, and boat. By car, if all members in your car are NEXUS members, you get to use a special speedy-access NEXUS line, saving you considerable time at the border.

How do I get NEXUS?  Any Canadian or American can apply for NEXUS online. The system will conduct a background check on you, looking for any previous immigration/customs violations and/or criminal records. If you pass this stage, you are then invited for an “interview” with both Canadian and American officials. Getting the  interview scheduled is probably the hardest part of the process, as appointment slots are quickly snatched up. These appointments are available at a number of US and Canadian airports and border crossings. Note that the interview isn’t much of an interview, rather, it’s an explanation of how to use the NEXUS/Global Entry machines. It was painless for me.

NEXUS costs $50, and your card is valid for five years. Remember you’re also getting Global Entry included in that fee. When an American applies just to Global Entry, they’re paying $100, and they’re not even getting NEXUS included! So for both Canadians and Americans, it makes financial sense to get NEXUS.

What is your experience with NEXUS? I absolutely love it, and I think it’s the best travel tool out there. When I land at YYZ from an international flight, I can get out of there in 5-10 minutes! I have seen lines that take more than an hour to clear, and I can smugly walk right by them. I have made a number of tight connections that I wouldn’t have otherwise made, and border crossing to the States has become an easy experience (whereas I think most Canadians dread going to the States because of the border crossing experience). I have also avoided major security lineups at YOW/YYZ, and have been able to arrive at the airport much later than I would normally otherwise have, or have been able to relax in the lounge while others are being groped by the TSA/CATSA. It is probably the best $50 investment I have ever made.


    1. It really depends on how complicated your routing is! If you want something simple, and the availability is there, could be really quick and booked on Aeroplan. If you want something crazy, that involves booking every flight individually over the phone with sparse award availability, could take half a day.

    1. WOOPS! On my backend system I thought it was commented on the mini-RTW post!!! Sorry about that! I got it awhile ago, but if I recall, from the date I applied online until’ when I got the card it took 1 month. I think how early you can get an appointment will dictate how long the process takes.

  1. I concur that NEXUS is the Canadian traveler’s best friend, especially when doing US pre-clearance or when transiting through the US on international journeys. One point to add however is to remember to ALWAYS keep your information updated on their website (i.e. passport number) as I found out the hard way when i renewed my passport in a hurry and forgot to update my NEXUS profile online. Needless to say i ended up speaking to an extremely rude and arrogant (i think this is a prerequisite for the job) CBP officer in YYZ who made threats to revoke my card, etc followed by saying there was now a note on my profile and should i have any other issues i would be removed from the program. Aside from that, the ease of use and expedited nature of clearing customs is worth the $50 for 5 years!

  2. Can you use the NEXUS card when driving back into USA from Mexico? Planning a roadtrip to Baja and would love to avoid the 4+ hour line up and use the SENTRI lanes with the NEXUS card if I could.

    1. For Mexico-US crossings, vehicle you are driving must be included in SENTRI as well. So if you are walking across, NEXUS card will work, but if driving across, unless you are driving a SENTRI authorized vehicle (needs to have a windshield sticker and license plate must be on SENTRI file), you will have to wait it out with the rest of the line.

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