What Is a Nexus Card?

A Nexus card is used for cross-border travel

U.S. Begins Requiring Passports For Land Travel To Mexico And Canada
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The NEXUS card gives U.S. and Canadian citizens expedited processing when entering Canada or the United States at all participating NEXUS air, land and marine ports of entry.

The card satisfies Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requirements; it proves identity and citizenship and acts as a substitute for a passport for entry into Canada for U.S. citizens (and vice versa). The program is a partnership between the Canada and U.S. border services, but NEXUS cards are issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The card costs $50.00 (both in U.S. and CAN funds) and is valid for five years.

Benefits

NEXUS card holders are identified at land border crossings by presenting their cards for scanning and at airport kiosks by undergoing a retinal recognition scan—a process that takes about 10 seconds.

  • NEXUS card holders have faster, less involved border crossings using automated NEXUS self-serve kiosks in designated areas at participating international airports.
  • By land, drivers may bypass lineups and use the special (shorter, if not empty) NEXUS card lanes.
  • By water, cardholders can report to border officials by phone in advance of arrival.
  • Approval for a NEXUS card also includes inclusion in the TSA Pre program. 

Applying for a Card

Any citizen of Canada or the U.S. who resides in either country and can pass criminal history and law enforcement checks may apply for a NEXUS card.  An applicant can fill out the form online, or download the application from the CBP-NEXUS site and then mail or bring the application to one of the Canadian Processing Centers (CPC).

 NEXUS card applications may be available at some border crossings, but they are no longer available at Post Offices. 

A few weeks after the NEXUS card application has been submitted, a staffer will contact you to arrange an interview at an enrollment center. There are over 17 enrollment centers that accept interviews.

Interviews may be conducted by both a Canadian and an American border representative separately and generally last about a half hour in total. Questions focus on citizenship, criminal record, and border crossing experiences. Authorities will also explain the legalities of bringing items over the border. If approved, you will also be fingerprinted and have a retina scan.

Additional Facts

  • NEXUS cards are a boon for those that travel for work-related reasons, but even tourists that only go to one of the two countries infrequently may find the card may be well worthwhile.
  • NEXUS cards are free for kids under 18 years of age. If you're getting one for yourself, you may as well get them for your kids as well.
  • If traveling with a group or family, all members need to have the NEXUS Card to use the designated NEXUS lineup.
  • Although NEXUS users will not be asked to show their passports at border crossings, technically they are supposed to have passports with them.
  • NEXUS card holders can still be pulled over and searched.
  • Cardholders can pay the duty on purchased goods automatically. They just give their credit info at the NEXUS interview and then drop off a form at the border each time they cross.
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