- NEXUS is designed to expedite travel between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
- Benefits include expedited screening at airports, land borders, and marine ports.
- Access to TSA PreCheck and Global Entry benefits.
- NEXUS card can be used as a valid ID in certain scenarios.
- Limitation: All travelers in a group must have NEXUS to use expedited lanes.
- LImitation: Application process can be lengthy, but the benefits often outweigh the wait.
Why NEXUS? Why bother with the application and the interview to secure the NEXUS card benefits? If you travel frequently between the U.S. and Canada, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the delays and tedious procedures you must endure in the name of security screening. These NEXUS card benefits can significantly reduce the time wasted and frustration you experience every time you travel.
What if you could wave a magic card and make those delays go away?
While NEXUS is hardly magic, it is a program that gets you a card that makes travel a lot easier. Yes, the application can take over 12 months, but the benefits NEXUS gives you are what makes this a compelling travel option.
Keep in mind that it is precisely because you go through a rigorous screening procedure by immigration and border officials in both the United States and Canada that you get these benefits. In other words, during the application, you are pre-screened with a thorough background check that looks at your criminal history, your immigration status, and anything else that could present a risk. When you gain membership in NEXUS, you have been assessed as a low-risk traveler. And that translates into reduced requirements and quicker processing when crossing the border with that oh-so-useful card.
So, NEXUS facilitates entering the U.S. and Canada, including eligible Mexican Nationals entering the U.S. or Canada. Your card simplifies the process of crossing the border into Canada and the U.S. by expediting your screening process through automated kiosks for air travel, express lanes for land travel, and through telephone reporting centers for marine travel. If you’re a frequent traveler, a key benefit is that it can shorten wait times substantially, especially at crowded airports like Toronto Pearson. It also gets you perks that help you avoid some of those annoying and time-consuming restrictions in security screenings at airports and at land border crossings.
So, before we dive in to see what all the advantages of NEXUS are, let’s clear up a few key definitions:
Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP): these are 5 risk-based programs run by DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and CBP (Customs & Border Protection) that facilitate your entry as a pre-approved traveler. The programs are:
- TSA PreCheck
- Global Entry
As you’ll see below, NEXUS gets you benefits from TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.
NEXUS Kiosks & eGates: these are automated booths used to verify your identity when you arrive at an airport in Canada from anywhere in the world – not just the U.S. NEXUS kiosks can process up to 4 people at a time while eGates process 1 person at a time and you must be 16 or older to use an eGate. In both you fill in personal information and have a photo taken to verify your identity. You then collect a receipt which you show to the border officer.
Global Entry: this is another Trusted Traveler Program run by CBP that gives you expedited entry into the U.S. You must use Global Entry to enter the U.S. when traveling by air from Canada under NEXUS. (Global Entry is also used for entry into the U.S. from any international destination).
TSA PreCheck: because you have Global Entry privileges when entering the U.S., you also get TSA PreCheck which gets you faster screening at TSA Checkpoints at participating airports.
Marine telephone reporting center: NEXUS members call in to these centers 30 minutes to 4 hours before arriving at a participating marine port of entry.
Now let’s look at all the benefits your card gives you.
Nexus saves you time because instead of waiting in line at the airport to visit a manned inspection booth, with your NEXUS card you use a screen at a booth/kiosk to answer a series of questions, have a photo taken, and then grab your receipt which you hand to a border officer who waves you through. Yes, you may be occasionally asked to head to an inspection area and answer a few questions but in general you quickly move through the process, ahead of regular passengers who don’t have membership in the program.
The same goes for land border crossings where NEXUS program members use the NEXUS lanes for expedited processing and shorter waiting times.
When entering Canada by air using NEXUS
Remember that when entering the U.S. by air you use Global Entry kiosks at preclearance at airports in Canada rather than NEXUS kiosks or eGates.
- When entering Canada by air your membership gives you the advantage of using NEXUS kiosks and eGates with your NEXUS card for quicker screening at the following participating airports in Canada:
- Calgary International airport (YYC)
- Edmonton International airport (YEG)
- Halifax international airport (YHZ)
- Montreal Trudeau International airport (YUL)
- Ottawa International airport (YOW)
- Toronto City airport (YTZ)
- Toronto Pearson International airport (YYZ)
- Vancouver International airport (YVR)
- Winnipeg International airport (YWG)
When using Land Border Crossings between U.S. and Canada with NEXUS
Your NEXUS lanes at border crossings are generally less congested than regular lanes, especially at peak travel times and during busy holiday seasons when travelers in regular lanes often experience significant delays
If you need proof of this, do the following: download Custom & Border Protection’s (CBP’s) Border Wait Times app and compare the average wait times at the border crossing you use to what you actually take when using NEXUS. We guarantee you’ll be impressed with how much shorter your processing time is when you use your card.
Please remember that every passenger in your vehicle must be a NEXUS member and no one can have any goods that they must declare to customs. In either of these cases, you must use the regular lanes. However, the following items are permitted in NEXUS lanes:
- Alcohol within your personal entitlement (this depends on the length of your visit)
- Tobacco products stamped “Canada Duty paid”
- Gifts up to $60 entering Canada
- Gifts up to $100 entering the US
- A reasonable number of personal effects (this indicates that they aren’t for commercial purposes)
Remember to use NEXUS expedited lanes with your NEXUS card and shorten your wait times at the following land border crossings:
- Alexandria Bay, New York
- Blaine, Washington
- Buffalo, New York
- Calais, Maine
- Champlain, New York
- Detroit, Michigan (Ambassador Bridge & Detroit-Windsor tunnel)
- Highgate Springs, Vermont
- Houlton, Maine
- Niagara Falls, New York (Lewiston & Whirlpool bridges)
- Pembina, North Dakota
- Point Roberts, Washington
- Port Huron, Michigan
- Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (International Bridge)
- Sumas, Washington
- You have NEXUS eGates at the following land border crossings:
- The Peace Bridge at Fort Eire, Ontario
- The Ambassador Bridge at Windsor, Ontario
When entering U.S. by air using NEXUS
- NEXUS members flying to the US from Canada can use Global Entry automatic kiosks at Canadian Preclearance airports where they:
- Present their machine-readable passport or Permanent Resident card or NEXUS card
- Have their fingerprints scanned for verification
- Complete a customs declaration electronically
- Receive a receipt and
- Head to Baggage Claim
- NEXUS membership means you don’t have to fill out a paper customs declaration form when entering the US and don’t have to proceed to a manned booth.
- Because NEXUS gets you TSA PreCheck, you don’t have to remove shoes, belts, headwear for religious or cultural reasons for example, or light jackets for the metal detectors*. Another benefit is that you can bring under 3 oz. of liquids and gels in your carry-on luggage.
- Please note that TSA PreCheck is also available to premium members of frequent flier programs at various airlines.
- However, these members do not have NEXUS Card benefits unless they have directly applied for NEXUS. In other words, NEXUS gets you TSA PreCheck, but TSA PreCheck does not get you NEXUS.
- These TSA PreCheck perks also mean that NEXUS members can leave laptops and electronics in your carry-on luggage as well as keep small items in your pockets.
- PLEASE REMEMBER: To get your TSA PreCheck benefits you need to enter your NEXUS number when booking your flight online. Your NEXUS number can be found on the back of your NEXUS card.
*exceptions to the rules can apply.
When Crossing the Border by Sea or Inland Waterway
With NEXUS, you get priority access when arriving at marine ports of entry including marinas and ferry terminals, allowing your vessel to go past long wait lines.
The NEXUS program does this by means of Marine Telephone Reporting Centers that passengers in boats use to report their arrival ahead of time and shorten the processing needed when arriving at your destination port. However, to use the telephone reporting centers, every passenger on your boat must be a member of NEXUS.
NEXUS is available at all southbound marine crossings.
Other Benefits of the NEXUS program
- People under 18 years old can apply for NEXUS for free, but they need a NEXUS card to travel with family members or any group that already has membership in the program.
- As of June 2023, NEXUS members receive expedited clearance through CATSA (Canadian Air Transport Security Authority) screening lines at the following airports:
- Calgary International Airport – Domestic Concourse C
- Edmonton International Airport – Domestic & International
- Montreal-Trudeau International Airport – Domestic & International
- Toronto Pearson International Airport – Terminal T1 Domestic Level 3
- Toronto Pearson International Airport – Terminal T3 Domestic
- Vancouver International Airport – North/Main Terminal Domestic
- Winnipeg International Airport – Domestic & International
- CATSA screening lines allow NEXUS members to:
- leave permitted liquids, aerosols, and gels in your carry-on
- leave laptops and electronics in your carry-on
- keep shoes, belts, light jackets, and headwear on*
- keep small items in your pocket
- allow co-travelers 17 or younger or 75 or older to accompany you
* You may be asked to remove headwear or head gear to allow a physical search.
NEXUS card Travel Benefit
- Click here to see the full list of eGates, Kiosks, Pre-Check lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the disadvantages of the NEXUS card?
- When traveling in a group (friends or family for example), everyone must have a NEXUS card for you to be able to use the expedited lanes or marine telephone reporting service. If not, you must use the regular lanes.
- Your NEXUS card does not give you any privileges or benefits when arriving in countries other than the US and Canada.
- Dogs older than 3 months must have been vaccinated at least 30 days prior to traveling and must have their vaccination certificate.
- Pets or other animals used for commercial purposes (like breeding or racehorses) are not allowed to use NEXUS lanes.
Is the application to get a NEXUS card worth it?
While NEXUS does cost US$ 50 per person to apply and involves many months before your card is activated and you’re ready to go, the benefits of time and bother saved once you are a NEXUS member can be substantial. So, if you are a fairly frequent or very frequent traveler between US and Canada, it makes sense to get the card.
However, since NEXUS is not valid when entering countries other than US and Canada, if you don’t travel often between the US and Canada, or travel instead to other destinations, then it may not be as useful for you as the advantages of NEXUS membership do not apply to any travel beyond the US and Canada.
In which countries is the program valid?
NEXUS is only valid for Canada and the US. Mexican nationals have to be part of the Viajero Confiable program to access the benefits of NEXUS. While you can use your card to enter Canada from any destination abroad, when traveling to anywhere outside of North America your membership is Nexus is not valid.
The same applies to the US: you can use Global Entry when you arrive in the USA from any destination abroad, but not when you travel to a destination outside of North America.
Can I use my NEXUS Card as an ID?
Yes, you can use your card as an ID. Although it is not a complete substitute for your passport, you can use your NEXUS card as ID when entering the US through Global Entry.
Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) brought in by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS), a NEXUS card is accepted as ID for US citizens when entering the US by air travel. However, permanent residents of the US must still have their valid Permanent Resident Card.
Please note that your NEXUS Card may also be used as ID for job applications.
Do members get the same Benefits as Global Entry?
Yes, NEXUS means you have the same benefits as a member of Global Entry. Just use your NEXUS card at Global Entry kiosks in pre-clearance at Canadian airports when you travel by air to the U.S.
Not only that, but NEXUS costs much less than Global Entry (US$ 50 versus US$ 100) and TSA PreCheck (US$ 78). In other words, paying US$ 50 gets you US$ 178 of additional benefits.
Is NEXUS only for U.S. citizens?
No. While U.S. citizens are eligible for NEXUS, Canadian citizens and legal permanent residents of both the U.S. and Canada can also apply to the program. Mexican nationals who are also members of the Viajero Confiable program can apply to NEXUS as well.
Does your card help at the airport?
Yes. At 9 designated airports in Canada, you may use your card at NEXUS kiosks and/or eGates.
Can Minors apply if their parents or guardians are not members?
Yes. Minors can enroll in NEXUS even if their parents or their guardians are not members of the program.
How does the program work when traveling with Children?
Your child needs their card and if you have shared custody of the child, you also need a letter of permission from the absent parent or guardian, as well as copies of the necessary custody documents (court order etc.).