NEXUS program: What you need to know

If you spend time in both Canada and the U.S., NEXUS can be helpful when traveling between the two countries. The program offers low-risk travelers expedited entry at land, sea and airport border crossings. That way, you can spend less time waiting in line and get to your destination sooner. Learn more about the NEXUS program.

Key takeaways

  • NEXUS helps travelers enter the U.S. and Canada by air, land and sea more quickly.

  • It costs $50 to enroll in NEXUS for a five-year membership.

  • NEXUS members can also use Global Entry and TSA PreCheck® in U.S. airports.

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What is NEXUS?

NEXUS is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP), like Global Entry, TSA PreCheck® and SENTRI, that helps U.S. and Canadian residents move more quickly between the two countries. It’s run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Whether traveling on foot or by car or ship, NEXUS members can use expedited lines at border crossings. Members can also access Global Entry and TSA PreCheck® at the airport.

Benefits of a NEXUS membership

Becoming a NEXUS member can mean shorter wait times when entering the U.S. and Canada. Benefits of NEXUS include access to:

  • Expedited border crossing lines on land and at marine reporting locations

  • NEXUS kiosks at the airport when entering Canada

  • Global Entry kiosks at the airport when entering the U.S.

What is a NEXUS card?

NEXUS members receive a radio frequency identification card to use when crossing the Canada-U.S. border. Once you get it, you’ll want to activate it online through your TTP account.

Your Known Traveler Number, also called a PASS ID, is listed on the back of the card. You can add this number to flight reservations to access TSA PreCheck®. And the card alone can get you through Global Entry kiosks.

How to get a NEXUS card

Applying for a NEXUS card is similar to the application process for other TTPs. There are a few steps to take:

  1. Create a TTP account, apply online and pay the nonrefundable $50 application fee.

  2. Pass a risk assessment by both CBP and CBSA.

  3. Schedule an in-person interview at an enrollment center or take advantage of Enrollment on Arrival next time you’re in the airport.

  4. If approved, you’ll receive a NEXUS card that’s valid for five years. It may take 12-14 months for an application to be processed.

How to use a NEXUS card

How you enter the U.S. or Canada with a NEXUS card can depend on your mode of transportation.

Land border crossings

When crossing the Canada-U.S. border by car or on foot, you’ll want to have your NEXUS card on hand.

  • Entering Canada: When entering the NEXUS lane, you can hold your card in front of the card reader. After a visual inspection at the NEXUS booth or eGate, you’ll either be held for further inspection or told to proceed. You can also notify the marine reporting station if you’re traveling by sea.

  • Entering the U.S.: In the same way as entering Canada, you’ll show your card and pass a visual inspection to enter the U.S.

Airport border crossings

The process of entering the two countries by airport differs slightly.

  • Entering Canada: You can use a NEXUS kiosk or eGate to enter Canada after a flight. You’ll scan your NEXUS card and provide some additional information before heading to baggage claim.

  • Entering the U.S.: To enter the U.S. from Canada by flight, you’ll head to a Global Entry kiosk. You can use your NEXUS card, passport or permanent resident card to pass through.

NEXUS program FAQ

Wondering if NEXUS is the right program for you? Here are a few answers to commonly asked questions:

U.S. and Canadian citizens and permanent residents, as well as Mexican nationals, are eligible to apply for NEXUS. Children under 18 need a guardian’s permission. Applicants have to pass a background check and an interview.

Ineligibility for NEXUS may include a false or incomplete application, criminal charges and not satisfying low-risk requirements.

It costs $50 to apply for NEXUS, and the membership lasts five years. The fee is nonrefundable, even if the application is denied. Children under 18 can apply at no cost.

Travelers who primarily enter the U.S. from Canada—or vice versa—might benefit from NEXUS. But the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) says “if you travel internationally four or more times a year” to and from destinations beyond Canada, Global Entry might be a good choice.

To renew a NEXUS membership, CBP and CBSA ask members to reapply 364 days before expiration. Members will have to pass another risk assessment and pay the $50 application fee again. The renewed membership will last another five years.

NEXUS program in a nutshell

NEXUS can be a helpful way for travelers passing between the U.S. and Canada to spend less time waiting at border crossings. Members can also use Global Entry when entering the U.S. from abroad and TSA PreCheck® when flying domestically.

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