NEXUS (frequent traveler program)

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NEXUS (formerly frequent traveler program and currently part of Trusted Traveler Program) is a joint CanadaUnited States program designed to let pre-approved, low-risk travelers 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 or reserved lanes at land crossings, or by phoning border officials when entering by water. The program is operated by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A NEXUS membership card is a valid document under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).


To qualify for the program, an applicant must be a citizen of Canada or the United States, or a permanent resident. A previous requirement to have resided in either country for three years has been removed to allow Canadian and American citizens living abroad, and those who have recently returned, to apply for NEXUS. Permanent residents of the United States or Canada must reside in their respective country for three years before applying for NEXUS membership.[1][2] Applicants must also be legally admissible to both nations, must have complied with immigration and customs regulations during previous travel, and must undergo a criminal history check. Additionally, if the applicant is under 18, both parents must provide their written consent.[3][4]

Application process[edit]

Sample NEXUS card

NEXUS applications can be submitted either online, via the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, or on paper, processed by the Canada Border Services Agency. The application fee is $50 CAD, or USD, which is waived for applicants under the age of 18.

Applicants are screened for citizenship and immigration status, and checked for criminal history and positive matches on U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Interpol terrorism and no-fly list, and United Nations databases, and the United Kingdom Police National Computer.[citation needed] Applicants who pass the initial screening are interviewed in person by agents of both the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (typically one right after the other). After approval, members are mailed an RFID-enabled NEXUS card, valid for five years from the applicant's birthday following card issuance. Renewal typically takes place six months prior to expiration, and members may be required to attend another interview to verify that they still qualify for the program.

Shortly after the announcement of the US requirement for a WHTI document for all travelers by 2009, CBP and CBSA announced their commitment to streamline the membership renewal process for the NEXUS program, and now will waive the interview for members who have not had changes to their information and have maintained their low-risk status. The United States and Canada also announced they had begun enrollment blitzes to expedite the processing of NEXUS applications, and had launched an outreach and awareness plan to increase membership in NEXUS.

Viajero Confiable Program[edit]

On June 29, at the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit, it was announced that by the end of 2016, "Canadian and American citizens who are members of the NEXUS Program will be eligible to apply to the Viajero Confiable Program, providing them with expedited immigration screening upon arrival at select international airports in Mexico. The arrangement will also allow Mexican nationals who are members of the Viajero Confiable Program to apply for the NEXUS Program." [5]

Use at land crossings[edit]

NEXUS cardholders are generally screened more quickly than non-NEXUS cardholders at border crossings from the U.S. to Canada. However, they are still subject to standard immigration and customs checks, and may be selected for secondary screening. Participating border crossing points typically have one lane solely reserved for NEXUS use, and some will also designate a second lane for NEXUS use on an as needed basis. A vehicle can only use the NEXUS lane if all of its passengers (including children) hold a valid NEXUS card, and nothing requiring a special customs declaration or payment of duty is being brought into Canada (see below).

A NEXUS lane at the U.S. side of the Ambassador Bridge.

Items permitted in a NEXUS lane[edit]

  • Alcohol within a traveler's personal entitlement (the traveler must be out of country of residence for 48 hours)
  • Tobacco products that are marked "Canada-Duty Paid"
  • Gifts up to $60 each (into Canada) or up to $100 total (into the United States)
  • Any reasonable amounts of personal effects

Items prohibited in a NEXUS lane[edit]

Certain restricted and sensitive items cannot be brought through a NEXUS lane. Examples include:

  • Cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, or loose tobacco that is not marked "Canada-Duty Paid"
  • Commercial or durable goods
  • Firearms (legal to import, but specific paperwork must be filled out and a secondary inspection is usually required)
  • Agricultural products (with limited exceptions for processed and locally grown foods in season)
  • $10,000 or more in cash or bearer instruments

Members are advised to inquire ahead of time with the appropriate authorities, and if in doubt, to use a standard lane. It is important to note: at nearly every lane crossing in either direction, and at all ports of entry, a Nexus member can use their Nexus card as proof of citizenship of either Canada or the US. Permanent Residents are still required to carry their passport/passport card, Permanent Resident Card, and any relevant immigration documents for either country, such as I94 or US landing cards (although they may not need to show these items in normal circumstances).

U.S.–Mexico Border[edit]

NEXUS members may utilize Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection (SENTRI) lanes when entering the US from Mexico by land, but must be traveling in an approved, registered vehicle[6] (SENTRI requires members to register their vehicles into the program, which involves a thorough inspection by CBP, whereas NEXUS has no such requirement). Regardless of whether the traveler is in an approved vehicle or not, the NEXUS card is a WHTI compliant document, and may be used in any standard lane from Mexico into the US as proof of identity and citizenship. Pedestrians can use dedicated SENTRI lines for expedited entry into the U.S. from Tijuana at the San Ysidro border crossing.

U.S. Global Entry[edit]

Canadian and United States citizens can use their NEXUS membership at Global Entry kiosks in the United States, for expedited clearance at Global Entry equipped airports in the United States and US CBP Preclearance facilities. The Global Entry kiosks are located at the 20 busiest U.S. international airports by international passenger traffic. To use the Global Entry kiosks, a valid, machine readable passport is necessary. Travelers are not required to use the NEXUS card in the kiosk, but are advised it is prudent to carry it on their person. There is no additional cost to use Global Entry, and it can be used for the duration of the NEXUS membership.

TSA PreCheck[edit]

Canadian and US citizens who are NEXUS members may use TSA PreCheck on all participating airlines, for domestic US flights, by entering the Customs and Border Protection PASS ID / KTN (Known Traveler Number) from their NEXUS card into their flight reservation information or into their frequent flyer account.

Use at airports[edit]

A NEXUS card is a WHTI compliant document,[7] that is; it is an accepted identification document, in lieu of a passport, for travel to or through the United States from a designated Canadian airport.[8] The designated Canadian airports are one listed below:[9]

  • Calgary International Airport
  • Edmonton International Airport
  • Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport
  • Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport
  • Vancouver International Airport
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport

NEXUS members entering Canada may use a NEXUS machine to make customs declarations, as long as the member's irises are on file with the CBSA. If the member's irises are not on file, or the NEXUS machines are not working, NEXUS members may use the Special Services desk. NEXUS members entering Canada must still fill out a customs declaration card. NEXUS allows travelers flying from many Canadian airports, even on domestic flights, to bypass the regular security screening line and use an expedited trusted traveler line.[10]

NEXUS members entering the United States, either at preclearance facilities or by landing in the US, can use the Global Entry kiosks, as long as the member's fingerprints are on file. Those using a Global Entry kiosk don't need to fill out a customs declaration card. If the member needs to see an immigration officer, they get front-of-line privileges (as with all Global Entry members). NEXUS members who are Canadian or US citizens can participate in TSA Precheck as long as their member number is in their airline reservation.

Legal status of NEXUS card[edit]

In the United States, a trusted traveler card, such as NEXUS, is a valid secured document under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and may be used by itself to reenter the United States from Canada, including by air. Although the card creates a presumption of nationality, neither US nor Canadian law views the NEXUS card as full proof of citizenship. NEXUS cards issued after September 2010 are accepted as proof of citizenship (if the card holder is a citizen of either country), and the traveler is no longer required to carry the passport if traveling by land only. However, airport documentation checks can and do require presentation of a passport in addition to the NEXUS card in the event of a secondary inspection.

NEXUS and FAST membership cards will now be accepted as proof of identity and as documents that denote citizenship when entering Canada at all land and marine ports of entry. This means that citizens of Canada and the United States who are NEXUS or FAST members, and are carrying with them valid membership cards, are no longer required to carry other supplementary documents such as passports or birth certificates with them when entering Canada by boat or by land, when using non-NEXUS or non-FAST lanes.[11]

NEXUS and FAST members who are not citizens of Canada or the United States are still required to travel with a passport and proof of permanent residence, and may be requested to present these documents to a border services officer upon arrival at the border.

NEXUS members travelling by air can enter Canada using the self-serve kiosks regardless of where they are coming from. For example, a NEXUS member returning to Canada from overseas and arriving in Montréal can use the self-serve kiosk in Montréal.[12]

Locations at which NEXUS is available[edit]

Airports (customs and immigration)[edit]

Airports (priority security screening)[edit]

Land crossings[edit]

Marine crossings[edit]

NEXUS members can report to approximately 450 sites.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CBSA Customs Notice 12-020". Canada Border Services Agency. 
  2. ^ "NEXUS". Canada Border Services Agency. May 8, 2012. 
  3. ^ "NEXUS Eligibility". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 
  4. ^ "CBSA NEXUS eligibility". Canada Border Services Agency. 
  5. ^ "Border Facilitation". June 29, 2016. 
  6. ^ "NEXUS General Information". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. 
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about the NEXUS Program". Canada Border Services Agency. Government of Canada. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Department of Homeland Security. "WHTI Program Background". U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Government of Canada. "NEXUS - Air". Canada Border Services Agency. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Using your NEXUS card at security". Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "NEXUS Proof of ID". Canada Border Services Agency. 
  12. ^ "NEXUS Air". Canada Border Services Agency. 
  13. ^ "NEXUS Air". Canada Border Services Agency. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  14. ^ "Using your NEXUS card". Canadian Air Transport Security Authority. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Canada Bound Rainbow Bridge NEXUS Lane Closing January 23, 2011", "Canada Border Services Agency", January 5, 2011, accessed January 27, 2011.
  16. ^ "Marine crossings". Canada Border Services Agency. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • "NEXUS". U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Official American site.
  • "NEXUS". Canada Border Services Agency.  Official Canadian site.