The NEXUS program: U.S./Canada border crossings made easy.
Then you need a NEXUS card.
The least well known of the big 3 Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS) the NEXUS program is actually the most beneficial.
More than Global Entry.
Below, we’ll get you up to speed with everything NEXUS.
Click a link to be taken to a section:
By the end, you’ll be well educated on everything and ready to apply for NEXUS card, provided you can get to one of the 25 interview locations.
What is a NEXUS card ?
The NEXUS card is a border crossing card, or pass, designed for expedited travel between the U.S. and Canada for low risk United States and Canadian citizens.
A quick road trip between Seattle and Vancouver?
Visiting either side of Niagara Falls?
NEXUS is s a joint Canada-United States program designed to let pre-approved, low-risk travelers cross the Canada–U.S. border quickly, whether by their own car, ship or walking.
Members of the program can avoid long waits at border entry points by using self-serve kiosks at airports, reserved lanes at 20 land crossings, or by phoning border officials when entering by water.
In addition, membership into the NEXUS program get you the benefits of the other 2 Trusted Traveler Programs, Global Entry and SENTRI.
You even get TSA PreCheck privileges as well.
A Trusted Traveler Program?
Trusted Traveler Programs are measures put in place by the Customs and Border Protection office (Global Entry and SENTRI) the Department of Homeland Security (TSA PreCheck) and the CBSA: Canadian Border Services Agency (NEXUS) that give prescreened members access to have faster access back into the United States (and Canada for NEXUS members) when traveling by air or ground as well expedited security screening when flying domestically.
They save travelers from airline hassle and headaches involved with border crossings by allowing members to use faster expedited border.
Other NEXUS Benefits
NEXUS card holders have access to the following:
- TSA PreCheck lanes
- At more than 150 airports
- Global Entry benefits
- Use of Customs Kiosks when returning from air travel abroad
- SENTRI benefits
- Use of SENTRI lanes when returning to the U.S. from Canada
Which one should I get?
If you meet the requirements listed below and live near the U.S. – Canadian border you should apply for NEXUS every time.
It’s the least expensive option of all Traveler Programs with the added benefit of faster access into Canada as well.
Not just anyone can apply for the program.
Who can apply for NEXUS?:
- US citizens
- Canadian citizens
- Lawful residents of the US or Canada
Documentation of citizenship such as a passport or naturalization certificate as well as your drivers license and proof of residence are required during for your NEXUS application.
With NEXUS, and any other program, a in-person interview with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer is required.
This interview must be scheduled within 30 days after you application is conditionally approved and is available at 25 locations in the Northern U.S. and Canada.
If you DO NOT meet the requirements of NEXUS or Global Entry yet still want to become a Trusted Traveler, your only option is to apply for the SENTRI pass and have your SENTRI (not NEXUS) interview at one of 13 SENTRI enrollment centers.
The NEXUS pass is by far the most affordable option of the big 3 Trusted Traveler programs.
The NEXUS application costs a non refundable $50 and is good for 5 years.
You can apply for NEXUS online through the CBP’s GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) here.
Your application fee of $50 will not be refunded if your application is denied.
Need a overview of how to apply with GOES? We can walk you through it.
Denials can be caused from incorrectly completed applications, false information, previous marks on your record (DUI’s in some cases) and for any reason the CBP or CBSA deem not trustworthy.
Children under the age of 18 may apply if eligible and admitted to the program free of charge.
|Global Entry||SENTRI pass||NEXUS pass||TSA PreCheck|
|Cost||$100/ 5 years
|$122.25/ 5 years
|$50/ 5 years
|$89/ 5 years
|Included Benefits||TSA PreCheck
|NO OTHER BENEFITS|
|EasySenrtri Application||$189/5 years
CBP Fees included
|$211.25/ 5 Years
CBP Fees included
|$139/ 5 years
CBP Fees included
|Not Available yet with EasySentri|
How to apply for NEXUS
The process for applying for a NEXUS card is fairly straightforward.
The NEXUS enrollment process is 3 steps.
- Completing an online application
- Attending an in person interview with a CBP officer
- Activating your card
For those that do not have access to an internet connection, there is a physical form that may be printed out. Complete this form by hand, and mailed to one of the 3 NEXUS enrollment centers for processing below. Make sure to attach a non-refundable fee and photocopies of supporting documentation.
This form is free and can be found here: NEXUS Application for print.
If your application is conditionally approved, you will receive a letter that will instruct you to schedule an interview at a NEXUS Enrollment Center.
|Residents of Ontario and the United States:||Residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Nunavut, Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewand and the Yukon:||Residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec:|
|NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
6080 McLeod Road
PO Box 126
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 6T1
|NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
6080 McLeod Road
PO Box 126
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada L2E 6T1
|NEXUS Program Canadian Processing Centre
400 Place d’Youville
Montréal, Quebec, Canada H2Y 2C2
Though we don’t recommend this option as it very time intensive, it could prove useful to some who are not able to complete their application online.
1: Complete your NEXUS application
Completing your NEXUS application online is a simple, but long task with the CBP.
Application requires registering with the CBP’s GOES (Global Online Enrollment System) to complete your application and submit payment.
It’s straightforward and requires plenty of clicks and browser refreshing. We walk you though the GOES SENTRI application process here.
The application fee for NEXUS is non-refundable. If you complete your application with erroneous information it could be denied and your fee will not be refunded.
We personally have seen applicants be denied due to marks on their record 10 years in the past and more recently for quite a strange reason.
If you wish to include a vehicle to use in SENTRI lanes you must enter your appropriate vehicle conveyance information (Make, Model, Year, VIN) in your NEXUS application.
Your vehicles conveyance information may be added at a later time after you are successfully admitted into the NEXUS program, though you will not be able to use that vehicle in SENTRI lanes until you do so.
Note that vehicles approved for use in SENTIR lanes must be driven by the person who submitted their NEXUS pass information and vehicle conveyance information.
After your application is submitted in 1-3 weeks you will receive a email from the CBP informing you if your application is conditionally approved.
You will then need to log back into your GOES account and schedule a date to attend a in person interview with a Customs and Border Protection officer.
2: Schedule and attend your CBP Interview
Once you receive an e-mail that your application was conditionally approved you will then need to schedule your CBP interview.
Log back into your GOES account with your user name and password and follow the online instruction to reserve a time slot.
Be aware, there are only a total of 25 Locations for your NEXUS interview, all of which are located near the U.S. – Canadian border.
The majority of NEXUS interview locations are located at the major airports or northern border crossing stations. Dates for an interview can be up to 3 weeks. So plan ahead as best you can.
Impatient? You can walk into an enrollment center and see if there are available openings for that day.
NEXUS Interview – What to expect
When you attend your NEXUS CBP interview you will want to bring certain documentation with you.
- Originals of evidence of citizenship that you listed on your application
- If not a U.S. citizen, originals of evidence of immigration admissibility to the U.S., that you listed on your application
- Valid drivers license (or state identification) issued in state where applicant lives
- Any evidence of your employment or residence (tax return, pay stub, mortgage/rent payment receipts)
The interview with a CBP agent as actually pretty easy.
During the interview you will have your photograph taken for your identification card and your fingerprints will be scanned.
The CBP officer will also as basic questions concerning your application.
Questions could be:
- “How often do you go to (said country in application)?”
- “Do you or any friends or family travel to Mexico/Canada. If so, how often?”
- “How often do you visit (said countries)?”
No personal questions are asked and the whole time in front of an officer is about 5 min.
At a later date, if you wish to register your vehicle for use in SENTRI lanes you will also need to provide the following information during your vehicle inspection:
- Valid drivers license (or state identification)
- Vehicle registration
- Evidence of US automobile insurance
- If the vehicle is not registered in the name of the applicant, a notarized letter authorizing its use by the applicant is required. A company vehicle requires written authorization on company letterhead
3: Card Activation and Use
Once your interview is complete and if you are deemed a Trusted Traveler you will receive your NEXUS card in mail in about one week.
Log back into your GOES account and active you card before use.
Once you active your NEXUS card that’s it. You’re done!
You can now use your program’s benefits to cross the Mexican or Canadian border in less than 20 minuets!
Or, use your KTN/PASS ID to enjoy TSA PreCheck benefits.
“What’s a KTN?” “Can’t I just show my card and be good to go?”
We wish it could be that easy.
Don’t worry, it’s simple. We’ll get to that shortly.
NEXUS Pass For Children
All children, regardless of age, must apply for and pay the appropriate fees to become a member of the NEXUS Trusted Traveler program.
This mainly applies for children and infants that will be returning to the U.S. with their parents or guardians from international travel by air so they may use Customs Kiosks and avoid Customs and Immigrations lines.
Children under the age of 13 DO NOT need to be a member of Global Entry, SENTRI, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck in order to ONLY use TSA PreCheck lanes with their parent or guardian. However, the parent or guardian must be a member have be granted access to TSA PreCheck upon checkin.
How to renew your NEXUS pass
Renewing your NEXUS pass membership is similar to the original application process.
You will need to log into your GOES account 90 days before your NEXUS membership expires and update all personal and legal information. Following your update the non-refundable GOES application fee must be paid ($50) for another 5 years of membership.
Children under the age of 18 do not have to pay for renewal.
If your NEXUS renewal application is “Conditionally Approved” you will receive a e-mail or letter stating such and have 30 days to schedule another NEXUS interview at one of the 28 NEXUS enrollment centers.
Please note that prior admittance to the NEXUS program does not guarantee renewal. Any new information or information falsely submitted may be cause for your NEXUS pass renewal denial.
How to use your NEXUS pass.
Now on to the good stuff.
All of the big three Trusted Traveler programs share their benefits.
When you throw TSA PreCheck into the mix things it gets confusing.
“What goes with what?”
“I have NEXUS but am flying to Europe out of LAX, what can I do?”
To clear it up we’ll go over using your NEXUS card for the other programs below:
- NEXUS card in NEUXS lanes
- Global Entry kiosks when returning to the U.S. from foreign air travel
- SENTRI lanes when returning to the U.S. from Mexico
- TSA PreCheck
Using NEXUS in NEXUS lanes
This one is easy.
Instead of accessing standard border crossing lanes between the U.S. and Canada you will see signs showing NEXUS dedicated lanes.
Simply access these lanes, present your NEXUS card to any camera scanner and CBP officer, declare everything you have in your vehicle and be on your way.
To put it simply:
If entering Canada via NEXUS lanes:
- Everyone in the vehicle must be a member of NEXUS
If entering the U.S. via NEXUS lanes:
- Everyone in the vehicle must be a member of NEXUS, Global Entry or SENTRI
Members may also access NEXUS custom kiosks when returned to Canada from international air travel in much the same way as they use Global Entry kiosks when returning to the United States.
Lets explain how to use them both below by referencing Global Entry kiosks, as they are the same.
Using NEXUS for Global Entry
Customs and Immigration
NEXUS members can use Global Entry Customs Kiosks when entering back into the US from travel abroad as well as dedicated NEXUS Customs Kiosks when returning to Canada from air travel abroad.
By using the kiosk you do not have to fill out the Customs Declaration card upon landing back into the US and can skip the immigration line.
The process involves scanning your passport, fingertips and answering a few customs questions, similar to what is on the declaration form.
Smile for the camera and you’ll get a “personal receipt” that you present to the immigration officer.
You are done and back on home soil without having to wait in line.
Customs and Immigration Receipt from a Global Entry kiosk.
There are virtually no lines to access a kiosk and you can be through in moments.
Customs = Your Bags / Immigration = You
Folks have mentioned that everyone usually ends up waiting for their luggage anyway after passing immigration.
True, in some cases. However, you’ll still need to lug your luggage through Customs.
This line is usually very long complete with people and all their gear.
NEXUS members have access to Global Entry’s own line for you to to clear customs and finally make it back into Canada or the U.S.
Take your “personal receipt” to the Customs officer in line and you’ll be waved on through. No questions asked.
You’re through in no time. No need to even show your NEXUS card either.
You will make your flight connections because of this.
Using NEXUS card in SENTRI lanes
Preparing for a road trip across the border?
At the busiest port of entry in the United States and the World (San Diego’s San Ysidro crossing) standard wait times are on average 2-3+ hours.
Friends of EasySentri have had to wait 7 hours while crossing on foot.
By having access to SENTRI lanes when returning from Mexico, Global Entry members wait less than 30 minuets when crossing back to the U.S.
What is SENTRI?
SENTRI lanes are designated for Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS members crossing back into the US from Mexico on foot or with a vehicle.
SENTRI lanes only present in Mexico leading back in the US. There are none going into Mexico.
Access to SENTRI lanes with vehicle requires that specific vehicle to be inspected. This vehicle must be taken to the inspection and driven in SENTRI lanes by the accompanying Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS member.
Skipping this step of registering your car, truck or motorcycle and attempting to access these lanes will surly get you sent to secondary screening and your total Global Entry privileges could be revoked!
You can not drive someone else’s car across the border in a SENTRI lane. The vehicle must be driven by the person who is a member of the Trusted Traveler program. The driver must have their Global Entry Card, SENTRI Card, or NEXUS Card must be in hand.
Getting TSA PreCheck with your NEXUS pass
You received your Nexus pass! Now it’s off to hassle free airline travel. Woot!
Hold on. Not so fast.
While crossing the US border in your car is quite easy (Line up in your respected expedited lane, show your card to the CBP agent, declare everything that you have, cross), getting access to TSA PreCheck lanes with your Nexus card is a tad different.
But not hard.
First, TSA PreCheck is only available to passengers of 13 U.S. carriers:
|Air Canada||American Airlines||Hawaiian Airlines||Sun Country Airlines|
|Air Canada||Cape Air||JetBlue Airways||United Airlines|
|Alaska Airlines||Delta Air Lines||Seaborne Airlines||Virgin America|
|Allegiant Airlines||Etihad Airways||Southwest Airlines||WestJet|
To gain access to TSA PreCheck lanes you will need to know your “KTN”.
What are KTN and PASS ID?
These are numbers assigned to your membership that you will need in order to be granted access to TSA PreCheck.
When you receive your Trusted Traveler card you will see a 9 digit number on the back usually beginning with 98. This number is your PASS ID and is labeled as such.
This serves as your KTN.
If you only have TSA PreCheck you will not have a PASS ID. You will receive your KTN in the post or via e-mail.
You’ll need these numbers in order to gain access to expedited PreCheck lanes.
When purchasing airline tickets online, right before you finalize your purchase, you will will see a field asking you to enter need your “KTN”, “Known Traveler ID” or other identifier. Enter your PASS ID or KTN here.
Really…they are the same thing.
KTN = PASS ID
The reason for the difference is that Active Military Members do not need to apply for TSA PreCheck.
Active military may use their DoD numbers to access TSA PreCheck.
These DoD numbers serve as the soldiers’ KTN when purchasing airline tickets. If you are in the military and want more detailed specifics look here.
When purchasing airline tickets online through the airline or 3rd party reseller (Expedia, Travelocity) enter this number into the filed labeled KTN upon checkout.
The KTN or PASS ID lets online ticketing registers (airlines, 3rd party sites) to recognize you as a Trusted Traveler or member of TSA PreCheck and set your airline tickets up for receiving PreCheck.
How to use your KTN
All 13 participating airlines and 3rd party sites (Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Kayak) have fields for you to enter you KTN. The field is usually located on the final checkout page before credit card submittal.
Some sites have fields labeled “Traveler Number” instead. Use this field to enter your number.
Most carriers like American Airlines and JetBlue have informative pages covering KTN and how to enter it within their system or Frequent Flyer program.
After you enter your KTN and purchase your ticket…that’s it. You’re done!
Forgot to enter your number or find a site without a KTN field?
You can always call your airline’s help center or travel agent and have them double check if your KTN was entered correctly. They can even enter you KTN into your reservation after purchase.
At the gate
When checking in with your airline you will see TSA PreCheck printed on the top of your boarding pass if you were selected.
Remember, being a member of a Traveler Program or TSA PreCheck does not guarantee you will be granted PreCheck when checking in. It only improves your chances.
The TSA still have Trusted Travelers and solo PreCheck holders pass through normal security to keep them honest, according to the TSA and to the occasional few that do not get it printed on their boarding pass.
NEXUS members will always have access to Global Entry and NEXUS Customs Kiosks. No KTN necessary to use.
Members of the stand alone TSA PrCheck program do NOT get to access Customs Kiosks.
Things to remember
Everyone in your family will need to be a member of a Traveler Program or TSA PreCheck in order to receive it’s benefits.
This goes for airline travel AND accessing SENTRI or NEXUS lanes.
If you have Global Entry and purchase 3 airline tickets with ONE KTN upon checkout…only one of you is liable to get selected for PreCheck.
The same goes for the Military.
Spouses, children (over 14 years old) and family members need to have their own Traveler Card or KTN.
Stinks, we know.
Helpful Sites and Resources
To aid you in your travels across the border as well in the airport there are a few websites and apps that will aid you in your time management.
The website: CBP Border Wait Times is extremely valuable to check current and past border delays by the hour at both the U.S./Canadian and U.S./Mexican border.
Lists include NEXUS and SENTRI lanes. FAST lanes as well.
A simple search at your desired crossing location could show you that crossing back to the U.S. from Mexicali on a Sunday at 6:00pm is not such a good idea.
Next, there are two free apps that are also available and give the same information and are easy to use on the fly.
Both these Apps list border crossing wait times (between the US-Mexico & US- Canada) amongst Standard, Ready Lane, and SENTRI lanes for Mexico and NEXUS lanes for Canada.
With the University of California’s there is even a graphical representation of the amount of traffic per border location, time of day and day of week.
The CBP app is a tad newer and works great.
The “Best Time To Cross The Border” offered by the University of California San Diego has a slick interphase…but is a bit buggy.
Download both free from your App store.
A bit overwhelmed?
It’s OK…you got the best of everything with you NEXUS membership.
And after using it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t apply sooner.
Is NEXUS worth it?
Every week we save Hours waiting in lines at the U.S.-Mexico border and from coming home from international air travel.
We have Global Entry and we USE it, but would have applied for NEXUS if we were located up in Seattle.
Have questions concerning the NEXUS program or application? Let us know!