Tired of waiting in long lines at the airport or border crossing stations when travelling to and from the US and Canada? NEXUS members receive expedited processing at the Canada-US border.
The NEXUS card costs just $50 USD and is valid for five years. Eligible Canadians can apply online and get approved in under 30 days.
Below, I’ll explain a bit more about how the NEXUS program works, its key benefits, and how to apply. I’ll also break down NEXUS renewal and replacement costs and how to use it for land, air, and sea travel.
The NEXUS Card program is a trusted traveller program designed to speed up border crossings between Canada and the United States for pre-approved, low-risk travellers. NEXUS members receive dedicated processing lanes at the border, airports, and marine ports.
Before NEXUS, two similar programs existed, which some readers may remember:
- Port Pass: for travelling into the US
- CanPass: for travelling into Canada
Port Pass was operated by US border authorities, and CanPass was operated by Canadian border authorities.
The two different programs often created confusion, though, which led to the creation of the NEXUS program. NEXUS is jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
NEXUS began taking applications in 2000 and was officially launched to the public in 2002. The program is available to both Canadian and US residents.
Related Reading: How To Retire In The United States From Canada
The NEXUS card costs just $50 USD to apply for. Considering the amount of time that it can save frequent travellers, I would say that the fee is well worth it.
Crossing the US-Canada border by car typically takes at least 45 minutes on a good day. On a slow day, you could easily wait upwards of an hour or more.
With a NEXUS card, you’ll be granted access to expedited processing lanes, which could cut this time in half (or more).
Your NEXUS card is valid for five years. Before expiration, you’ll need to renew your membership if you want to continue taking advantage of your NEXUS privileges.
Renewing your NEXUS card also costs $50 USD, which is the same fee required to sign up. If you’re under 18, your NEXUS card can be renewed free of charge.
It’s also worth noting that the renewal process is usually straightforward. Renewal can be processed online, at which point you’ll be asked to verify your personal information.
As long as there have been no significant changes in your life or residency status, you shouldn’t have to worry about an in-person interview.
Once you’re approved for NEXUS, you’ll be issued a physical membership card. Currently, there is no virtual card, presumably for security reasons. This means that if your NEXUS card is lost, stolen, or damaged, you’ll need to replace it.
To replace your card, simply log into your Trusted Traveller Program (TTP) account that you signed up for the program with.
You’ll be charged a $25 replacement fee and should receive your new card in the mail within a week or two.
The replacement NEXUS card will have the same information and expiration date as your original card.
Now, let’s talk a bit more about NEXUS eligibility.
The program is meant to expedite the process of crossing the border by bypassing some of the more rigorous security measures that standard travellers must submit to.
As such, the program is only available to individuals with a clean criminal record. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, you’ll be automatically disqualified.
To be eligible for the NEXUS program, applicants must:
- Be a permanent resident or citizen of Canada or the US (Mexican nationals enrolled in Viajero Confiable may also apply)
- Be allowed to cross the border under immigration laws
- Have never violated immigration, customs, or agriculture laws
- Must have a clean criminal record in all countries (or have received a full pardon)
If you’re applying to NEXUS as a permanent resident, rather than a US or Canadian citizen, you must have held your residency status for at least three years before you’re eligible for the program.
US or Canadian armed forces are exempt from this three-year rule, as well as their immediate family members. Canadian and US officials on diplomatic missions or who have a consular post are also exempt from the rule.
Interestingly, minors under age 18 can apply to the NEXUS program, even if their parents or guardians aren’t enrolled in the program.
Now that you know a bit more about the requirements to apply for NEXUS, let’s take a quick look at some of the key benefits of joining the program.
Those entering Canada from the US have more benefits and access to more expedited service locations. Unfortunately, the US tends to be more stringent on border crossing, meaning there are fewer NEXUS service locations when entering the US from Canada.
NEXUS members entering Canada can take advantage of the following privileges:
- Access to TSA Pre-Check lines at US airports (even if you’re a Canadian NEXUS holder)
- Expedited vehicle crossing lanes at 21 US-Canada border crossing locations
- Access to NEXUS eGates at the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, ON and Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, ON
- Access self-serve NEXUS kiosks at 21 major international airports
- Expedited security screening through CATSA where available
NEXUS members entering the US from Canada can take advantage of these privileges:
- Dedicated vehicle lanes at 16 US-Canada border crossing stations
- Rapid processing at all marine crossings and ports
- NEXUS global entry kiosks at 8 major Canadian airports
Ready to enroll and start saving time? Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to apply for NEXUS.
When you apply to NEXUS, you must provide detailed information about yourself and your residency status.
If you’re applying as a citizen, you’ll need to present at least one of the following documents:
- Up-to-date passport
- Birth certificate + photo ID
- Certificate of naturalization (if applying as a US citizen)
- Certificate of Indian Status (if applying as a Canadian native)
If you’re applying as a permanent resident, you’ll need to present at least one of the following documents:
- Provincial ID card
- Drivers’ license
- Federal ID card
- Bank statement or utility bill with your current address, matching your ID
When you apply to NEXUS, your personal information and documents will be shared with government security agencies in both the US and Canada.
If you’re applying from Canada, you must consent to have your data shared with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other federal and state law enforcement agencies.
If you’re applying from the US, you must consent to share your data with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the RCMP, and other federal/provincial law enforcement agencies.
As part of the application process, you’ll be fingerprinted, which means you’ll be permanently registered in the systems of both countries.
After gathering your documents and agreeing to the NEXUS security and privacy terms, you can begin your online application by creating an account with the Trusted Traveller Programs (TTP) system, which is operated by the US border security and the Homeland Security Department.
After completing your application, you’ll be required to complete an in-person interview. The interview typically lasts less than 30 minutes, and you’ll be asked to verify details about your personal history, criminal record, and residency status to ensure the data you provided in your online application was correct.
As long as your application is approved and you pass the in-person interview, your NEXUS card should be issued within 30 days of completion.
It’s worth noting that there is a considerable backlog of applicants for the NEXUS program. Anybody can complete the online portion of the application. However, it could take weeks (or longer) before you’re given a date to complete your in-person interview.
The sooner you apply, the better, though. That way, you can save your spot in the queue.
Once you receive your card in the mail, you must activate it by logging into your TTP portal. Unactivated cards are not valid and will be rejected if you try to use them.
The first time that you use your NEXUS card at an eGate or self-service kiosk, you’ll be required to scan your passport (unless you’re a minor under 16). This will be stored on the NEXUS system, and you won’t have to complete this process in the future.
Remember that NEXUS isn’t available at all border crossings and airports. You can view a full list of NEXUS locations here.
NEXUS members aren’t exempt from declaring goods when entering or returning to Canada and must list all declared goods in accordance with CBSA declaration rules.
Most goods are allowed through NEXUS. However, you may not use NEXUS if you’re travelling with the following items:
- Firearms or other goods that require a permit
- More than $10,000 CAD or “monetary instruments” (such as a crypto hard wallet)
- Restricted, controlled, or prohibited goods (you can view a full list here)
- Commercial goods (such as warranty parts or product samples)
To prevent theft, you must also provide a written/oral statement or signed receipt/invoice when travelling with items not registered in your name. An example of this could be a jeweller who’s hand-delivering a watch to a client in Canada or the US.
If you frequently travel between the US and Canada, the NEXUS program can save you a lot of time. Canadian NEXUS members can also take advantage of TSA Pre-Check while travelling through the US, which can be especially useful for “snowbirds” retiring in the US or business travellers.
Saving time is just one half of “hacking” the travel game. The other half involves saving money by enrolling in travel rewards programs that offer points, cashback, and other perks for frequent travellers. Keep on reading to see my favourite travel rewards cards!