NEXUS

NOTE: This article is a reference for those who are members of NEXUS or who are considering applying. It does not represent legal or immigration advice. Please refer to the official CBSA or CBP websites for full details on the program.

NEXUS is a joint Canada-United States program designed to let pre-approved, low-risk travellers cross the Canada–U.S. border quickly. Members of the program can avoid long waits at border entry points by using self-serve kiosks at airports, reserved lanes at land crossings, or by phoning border officials when entering by water. The program is operated by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A NEXUS membership card is a valid document under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

NEXUS is part of the Trusted Traveler Program.

Eligibility

To qualify for the program, an applicant must be a citizen of Canada or the United States, or a permanent resident. Permanent residents must have resided in Canada or the U.S. for three years. Applicants must also be legally admissible to both nations, have complied with immigration and customs regulations during previous travel, and pass a criminal history check. Additionally, if the applicant is under 18, both parents must provide their written consent.

Application process

Submission of application

NEXUS applications can be submitted online in one of two ways:

Once submitted, the application will be reviewed, and the applicant's criminal and immigration will be reviewed. Making a false declaration on the application will result in the application being denied. Once denied or conditionally approved, the applicant will be informed of the outcome.

The processing time for an application varies based on the volume of applications. As of January 2013, the wait is approximately 3 weeks.

Scheduling an interview

If the application is conditionally approved, the applicant must schedule an interview within 30 days. If an interview is not scheduled within this time, the application may be cancelled. Instructions on how to schedule an interview are included in the letter of conditional approval.

The interview does not need to occur within 30 days of the notification of conditional approval; it is only necessary to schedule the interview within 30 days. For example, if conditional approval is granted on March 1, the applicant must book an interview slot by March 30; however, the interview could possibly be scheduled several weeks or months later.

Depending on the current load, interviews may not be available for several months at the candidate's desired enrolment centre. If there is no suitable time slot available in the near future, the applicant can consider one of the following options:

If applicants are immediate family members (i.e. spouse and children), they may book back-to-back interview slots. This will allow them to be interviewed as a group.

Interview

The letter of conditional approval will include a list of documents that must be brought to the interview. Documents may include:

During the interview, the applicant will meet with both a CBP officer and a CBSA officer. Each officer will explain the rules of the program and ask a series of questions. Questions may include:

The CBP officer will fingerprint and photograph the candidate, and the CBSA officer will perform an iris scan of the candidate (where available).

Receipt of NEXUS card

Following the interview (often within one-to-two days), the applicant will be notified of whether or not the application was approved. A card will be mailed within two weeks. The applicant must activate the card on the GOES website. Once activated, the applicant may use NEXUS to cross the border.

If the candidate's profile in GOES indicates that they are eligible to use Global Entry, they may begin using the Global Entry kiosks in designated airports right away, even without a NEXUS card.

Iris scan

An iris scan must be performed in order to use a NEXUS machine at designated airports. However, it is not required to cross by land or sea, nor is it required to use a Global Entry kiosk at designated airports.

Not all enrolment centres have an iris scanner. If the enrolment centre does not have an iris scan machine, a NEXUS member may visit another enrolment centre to have the iris scan performed. The NEXUS member must have their card on-hand to complete the iris scan.

No interview is required for an iris scan, but it may be wise to call ahead to verify that the office is open and has capacity to perform an iris scan. If there is no wait, the iris scan process typically takes less than 5 minutes.

Enrolment centres

Below is a list of enrolment centres. Addresses and operating hours are available on the CBSA website. Enrolment centres with iris scan facilities are indicated as such.

British Columbia / Washington

Alberta / Montana

Northern Ontario / North Dakota / Minnesota / Manitoba

Southern Ontario / Great Lakes

Eastern Ontario / Quebec / New York

New Brunswick / Nova Scotia / Maine

Border crossing privileges

NEXUS members must be in compliance with NEXUS rules at all times. Additional conditions may apply, depending on the mode of travel or if an expedited border crossing method is used. Some (but not all) of these conditions are mentioned below. In all cases, the traveller is responsible for knowing and complying with these regulations.

Identification

The NEXUS card is a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document, meaning that it is a valid document for establishing citizenship and identity at all land and marine border crossings between Canada and the U.S. The bearer may also need other documentation (such as a visa or permanent resident card).

Due to IATA regulations, the NEXUS card is not a valid document on its own for air travel. A passport is always required for international air travel.

Land crossings

The NEXUS card is a valid document in all lanes at a land crossing between Canada and the U.S. It may be used in lieu of a passport in a regular crossing lane, regardless of whether or not the other passengers possess a NEXUS card.

Expedited land border crossings

Dedicated lanes are available to NEXUS members at certain border crossings. All passengers in the vehicle must possess a NEXUS card and (if applicable) any visa or permanent residency documents. Vehicles with passengers who are not NEXUS members may not cross through a dedicated lane.

Any Canadian resident who is returning to Canada and has exceeded their duty-free allowance must complete a Traveller Declaration Card. This card is placed in the mailbox in the NEXUS lane when crossing. Travellers who have not exceeded their duty-free allowance may make a verbal declaration.

A list of land crossings with dedicated lanes for NEXUS members is available on the CBSA website. The dedicated lanes are normally only open for part of the day; members should check online to verify when the lanes are open. If the dedicated lanes are closed, NEXUS members can use a normal lane.

Telephone reporting for marine crossings

Boats may report their entry to the U.S. or Canada via telephone. All passengers on the boat must be NEXUS members and be in possession of their NEXUS card and (if applicable) any visa or permanent residency documents. Please refer to the reporting instructions on the CBSA website.

Expedited air travel to Canada

All Canadian airports with U.S. preclearance facilities have NEXUS machines. NEXUS members must be in possession of their passport, their NEXUS card, and (if applicable) any visa or permanent residency documents.

The traveller must complete a white declaration card prior to entering the preclearance hall. Once inside, the traveller uses a red self-service NEXUS kiosk, scans their iris, and answers the questions on-screen. The machine will print a card.

Any Canadian resident who is returning to Canada and has exceeded their duty-free allowance must complete a Traveller Declaration Card. This card is placed in the mailbox by the NEXUS machine.

The traveller will present the printed card and white declaration card to a CBSA agent before exiting the hall.

The following airports have NEXUS machines for entry to Canada:

Expedited preclearance air travel to the U.S.

All Canadian airports with U.S. preclearance facilities have NEXUS machines. NEXUS members must be in possession of their passport, their NEXUS card, and (if applicable) any visa or permanent residency documents.

The traveller must complete a blue declaration card prior to entering the preclearance hall. Once inside, the traveller uses a red self-service NEXUS kiosk, scans their iris, and answers the questions on-screen. The machine will print a card. The traveller will then present the printed card and blue declaration card to a CBP agent. If the traveller does not need to go through secondary inspection, they will be free to exit the hall and proceed to security.

If the passenger checked "Yes" to any of the questions on the blue declaration card, they will be required to go to secondary inspection. As well, a small number of passengers will be sent to secondary inspection for a random inspection.

The following airports have NEXUS machines for U.S. preclearance:

Global Entry for air travel

Main article: Global Entry#Expedited air travel to the U.S.

NEXUS members who are Canadian or U.S. citizens are eligible to participate in Global Entry if their 10 fingerprints are on file with CBP. This can be verified by logging in to GOES to see if the NEXUS member is also enrolled in Global Entry, or by visiting a NEXUS or Global Entry enrolment centre.

NEXUS members do not need to be in possession of the NEXUS card when using a Global Entry kiosk, nor do they need to complete a blue declaration card. However, they must be in possession of their passport and (if applicable) any visa or permanent residency documents.

Further details of the Global Entry program, including a list of participating airports, are available on the Global Entry#Expedited air travel to the U.S. article.

Airport security privileges

Identification

A NEXUS card is a valid document for identification at airports. You can present your NEXUS card when entering airport security at all Canadian and U.S. airports, regardless of destination.

Although it is an approved document, not all document inspectors at airport security may be familiar with the NEXUS card, especially as at local or regional airports in the U.S. where it may not be used often. If a document inspector does not recognize the document, you can ask them to refer to the list of approved identification documents.

Priority security at Canadian airports (domestic/international)

Certain Canadian airports have a dedicated lane for NEXUS members for airport security screening. These lanes often have a shorter lineup than the regular security lanes. NEXUS members are always required to comply with airport security regulations and procedures, regardless of which lane they are in.

To access the NEXUS lanes, report to the security area entrance. If there is a NEXUS lane open, present your NEXUS card to the agent outside of the entrance.

The NEXUS lane may not be available for all destinations (Canada, U.S., international) at each airport. Airports may not have NEXUS lanes for travellers who have just cleared customs and are connecting to another flight. NEXUS lanes may be closed during lower-volume periods of the week.

The following airports have a priority security lane for NEXUS members :

More details are available at the CATSA website.

Priority security at Canadian airports (transborder)

Express security clearance, similar to TSA Precheck, is available for US-bound flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) Terminal 1. This is a pilot program that may be expanded to other airports in the future if successful.

Passengers may keep their shoes, belts, and light jacket on while passing through security. In addition, they do not need to remove their computer or gels/liquids from their carry-on.

TSA Precheck

TSA Precheck is a program that expedites security procedures at select U.S. airports. A dedicated lane is available to travellers using TSA Precheck. Once passing through security, passengers may keep their shoes, belts, and light jacket on while passing through security. In addition, they do not need to remove their computer or gels/liquids from their carry-on.

NEXUS members who are Canadian or American citizens are eligible to participate in the TSA Precheck program when flying on a domestic (U.S.) itinerary. Travellers must register that they are a trusted traveller with their airline prior to printing their boarding pass.

This program is only available while flying on the following airlines from certain airports:

For a full list of participating airports, please refer to the TSA Precheck website.

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