Since we travel to the USA so often, we thought it would be convenient to apply for a NEXUS Pass. It seemed relatively easy, so we went ahead.
Our experience becomes your How To and Why To course in NEXUS. Here we go!
NEXUS Pass Basics
What is NEXUS? NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States.
What is the cost? $50 USD. There is no fee for children under the age of 18.
Who qualifies? A Canadian or U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Why should I bother? If you travel to the United States often (once a year would make this worthwhile in my opinion) it cuts down on the time you spend waiting in lines and generally accelerates any process at the border. In essence, it gives some extra credibility so you aren’t scrutinized as much, therefore getting to where you want to go quicker. It comes in handy during peak travel periods or holiday weekends.
How to Apply for a NEXUS Pass
1. Register for GOES (Global Online Enrollment System)
Do this by creating an account here. Once you have a password and an ID number you are ready for Step 2.
2. Apply for NEXUS
If you’re a Canadian citizen, you will need to provide proof as part of the application process – valid passport, birth certificate, Canadian citizenship certificate or card, etc. Complete the application form online, pay your non-refundable $50 USD fee (online payment) and submit your application.
3. Schedule and attend your interview
Once the initial processing of your application is complete, you will be notified so you can set up an interview at a NEXUS Enrolment Centre. During the interview, they may ask you a few clarifying questions (e.g, why are you applying for NEXUS?).
If everything meets their requirements you will get approved on the spot. Then they will take your fingerprint scans, iris scan and explain the rules around using NEXUS. You still have to declare food when you cross the border, any changes to your personal information or travel status such as a VISA, requires you to update your NEXUS.
4. Activate your NEXUS
A few weeks later, your NEXUS card should arrive in the mail. Once you activate it online it is ready to be used.
Travel Tips for NEXUS Passholders
1. Remember to bring your NEXUS card whenever you travel between Canada and the United States
Depending what route you’re taking to the States, the process for using your NEXUS varies. At airports there are typically separate lines for NEXUS travellers which are shorter and faster since you use a kiosk instead of wait for a customs officer. YAY!
If you’re driving, it could vary — it seems to depends on the crossing. Sometimes there’s a separate lane for NEXUS holders but it might just be trickier to maneuver to it. As we approached the customs booth at Niagara Falls, a sign in front of a machine instructed us to hold up the card(s) but we couldn’t really figure out where the camera was. We still had to drive up to the booth and answer questions from the officer, but it seemed that by virtue of possessing a NEXUS card, our entry was more straightforward and timely.
2. Enter your Known Traveller Number when booking travel to qualify for TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck expedites traveller screening through TSA security checkpoints. Participating airlines will put a TSA PreCheck indicator on your boarding pass which means you will not need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts or jackets.
3. Everyone in your group must have a NEXUS card
In order for you to skip the long lines at the border or airport, everyone in your travel party must be a NEXUS passholder. If you’re taking a roadtrip to the US, in order to use the NEXUS line, everyone in the vehicle must have their own NEXUS card.
4. Use the right kiosks
When you enter Canada, you’ll use the NEXUS kiosks. When entering the United States, you’ll use the Global Entry kiosks.
5. Updates must be made at a NEXUS office
If you need to update your address, VISA or any other personal information you must return to the nearest NEXUS office to update your profile. You cannot do this online. No appointment is required – just show up and add your name to the list at the entrance and wait your turn. It doesn’t take long.
Is the NEXUS Pass Worth It for Your Family?
If you live in Canada and work in the U.S. or visit frequently, yes, in my opinion it is worth it.