If there’s a golden ticket that unlocks the VIP world of travelling across borders and airports in Canada and the US, it’s probably the NEXUS card!
A NEXUS card lets travellers breeze through security hassle-free because of the streamlined procedures made possible by using dedicated lanes, TSA PreCheck privileges, and automated kiosks.
Read on to learn about the NEXUS membership program, including how to get a NEXUS card, what it can do for you, and any potential drawbacks.
- A NEXUS card is a membership card acting like a passport for frequent travellers between US and Canada to ease border clearance.
- To apply for a NEXUS card, visit the Trusted Travellers Program website to register and pay for the non-refundable fee of $50 for adults and free of charge for children under 18.
- Some credit cards available to receive at least $100 NEXUS card rebates are TD Aeroplan card and CIBC Aventura card.
What is a NEXUS Card?
A NEXUS card is a physical card designed to speed up border crossings between Canada and the US by air, land, or boat, mutually run by the US Customs and Border Protection and Canada Borders Services Agency (CBSA).
It is a trusted traveller program issued to pre-approved low-risk Canadian and US travellers who have been pre-screened thoroughly to access dedicated processing lanes at designated border ports of entry and airports.
The NEXUS card also has TSA PreCheck benefits, so if you’re a Canadian entering the US, you’ll have expedited security screening and fast-track services at participating US airports.
Where Can You Use a NEXUS Card?
A NEXUS card can be used at participating international airports, land crossings, or any marine reporting locations between US and Canada to speed up border clearance and avoid line-ups.
There are designated NEXUS lanes or kiosks you can line up to show your NEXUS card in front of a card reader or officer-in-charge.
Remember that while NEXUS lanes are express lanes, metal detectors and x-ray checks are still required to cross successfully at the entry areas.
Below is the list of participating Canadian airports where you can use the NEXUS card at international arrival automated self-serve kiosks or eGates.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport (Ontario)
- Vancouver International Airport (British Columbia)
- Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (Ontario)
- Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (Manitoba)
- Calgary International Airport (Alberta)
- Edmonton International Airport (Alberta)
- Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (Quebec)
- Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport (Nova Scotia)
- Billy Bishop Airport (for incoming flights only)
For NEXUS card holders who cross borders from the US into Canada and vice versa by land, below is the list of land border ports of entry with dedicated NEXUS lanes.
|Entering Canada||Entering US|
|Abbotsford-Huntingdon (British Columbia) Aldergrove (British Columbia) |
Ambassador Bridge (Ontario)
Boundary Bay (British Columbia)
Douglas (British Columbia)
Fort Erie (Ontario)
Fort Frances Bridge (Ontario)
Niagara Falls Whirlpool Bridge (Ontario) Pacific Highway (British Columbia) Queenston Lewiston Bridge (Ontario) Sarnia (Ontario)
Sault Ste. Marie Bridge (Ontario) St-Armand/Philipsburg (Quebec) St-Bernard-de-Lacolle: Highway 15 (Quebec)
St. Stephen 3rd Bridge (New Brunswick)
Windsor-Detroit Tunnel (Ontario)
Woodstock Road (New Brunswick)
|Alexandria Bay, New York |
Blaine, Washington (Pacific Highway) Blaine, Washington (Peace Arch)
Buffalo, New York (Peace Bridge)
Champlain, New York
Detroit, Michigan (Ambassador Bridge) Detroit, Michigan (Detroit-Windsor Tunnel) Highgate Springs, Vermont
Niagara Falls, New York (Lewiston Bridge) Niagara Falls, New York (Whirlpool Bridge) Pembina, North Dakota
Point Roberts, Washington
Port Huron, Michigan (Blue Water Bridge) Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (International Bridge)
If you’re travelling by boat and have NEXUS privileges, there are 396 available marine reporting centers. On the other hand, NEXUS is available at all southbound marine crossings in the United States.
To cross borders by water successfully, call the Telephone Reporting Centers (TRC) between 30 mins to four hours before your estimated arrival at the marine border.
NEXUS Card Cost
A NEXUS card costs a non-refundable application fee of USD 50 for adults 18 years old and above, is free of charge for children 18 and below, and is valid for five years if accepted to the program.
Once you apply for the NEXUS card, you must pay immediately through electronic bank transfer or credit card at the time of application through the Trusted Traveler Program System. In Canada, the fee must be emailed to a Canadian Processing Center.
One of the most widely used payment methods for NEXUS applications in Canada is credit cards like Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express, Diner’s Club, or JCB. They don’t accept direct transfers from bank accounts if you’re outside the US.
If you lose your card, you’ll pay a $25 USD fine to apply for a new one.
How to Get a NEXUS Card
Several steps must be completed to apply for a NEXUS card in Canada.
Review all privacy statements, such as the Canada Privacy Statement, the US Privacy Act Statement, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation Privacy Statements, to understand what data or private information is being collected and how it will be used.
2. Review the Terms & Conditions
Before applying for a NEXUS card, applicants must review all associated terms and conditions, including things they must abide by, NEXUS privileges, and illegal actions.
To be eligible, you must be a US or Canadian citizen or permanent resident with no violations or criminal records.
Using Trusted Traveler Program Systems (TTPs), apply and submit your application with the processing fee at the NEXUS link program link from the options.
Once your application is conditionally approved, an interview will be arranged at a NEXUS enrollment center which you can see from the system.
At this stage, an officer will review and verify all your identity, personal information, and supporting documents and do some risk assessments to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements.
There are three possible ways you can schedule your interview.
- Joint Canada and US interview in a United States enrollment center
- Split Canada interview at Canadian enrollment center + US interview at US enrollment center
- Two-step Canada interview at Canadian enrollment center + US preclearance location in a Canadian airport
After the interview, the officers will take your fingerprints and picture-taking for the card and briefly explain the NEXUS program’s terms and conditions and how to use the card.
After the in-person interview, check the status of your application on the TTP website regularly. Typically, your NEXUS card will be delivered within four to six weeks.
Related: How To Apply For a Passport.
NEXUS Card Requirements
You must meet the NEXUS card requirements below to be eligible for the NEXUS membership privileges.
- Must be a US or Canadian citizen. Mexican nationals are eligible, given they are members of the Viajero Confiable Program.
- Must have been a permanent or legal resident of Canada or the US for at least three years before application unless you or a family member are serving in the American or Canadian Armed Forces or a consular office or diplomatic mission overseas.
Moreover, since the NEXUS program does thorough background checks on all participants, you may not qualify if you possess one of the following conditions.
- Submitting inaccurate, insufficient, or false information on the application;
- Bearing unresolved criminal accusations, including outstanding warrants, or a conviction record for a criminal offence
- Having violated any country’s immigration, customs, or agricultural regulations or laws
- Being designated inadmissible to the United States according to immigration regulations, which includes candidates with parole papers and approved waivers of inadmissibility
- Being the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state, or local law enforcement agency
- Inability to convincingly demonstrate to CBP officers their low-risk status or meet other eligibility requirements
After confidently meeting all eligibility requirements, two primary papers are required to submit, and their corresponding accepted documents are presented below.
- Proof of Canadian or US citizenship
- Canadian or US citizenship card or certificate
- Birth certificate with valid ID with photo
- Valid passport (Canadians, US, and Viajero Confiable Mexican members)
- Certificate of Indian Status for Canadians
- US Certificate of Naturalization
- US border crossing card
- Valid permanent resident card (like US I-551 Lawful Permanent Resident Card)
- Record of landing in Canada
- Proof of Canadian or US residency
- Federal identification card
- Provincial identification card
- Valid driver’s license
- Any document with a present address, like utility bills and bank statements
A work or study permit might also be required for students or workers in the US or Canada.
How to Get a NEXUS Card For Children
Although children and infants are free of charge, children are required to undergo the same process of applying for a NEXUS card as an adult, but with a signed letter of consent from their parents, legal guardians, or any authorized adult, which may or may not be a NEXUS member.
All children must also attend the NEXUS interview accompanied by a parent or legal guardian and present any documentary evidence that there are no restrictions on the child’s custody to confirm no abduction or taking against will happen.
Children may or may not undergo iris scans unless requested by legal guardians.
How to Get a NEXUS Card for Free
One of the most popular ways to get a NEXUS card for free in Canada is through credit card rebates. You can sign up for the NEXUS program for free (or at least some of the fee covered) by simply charging one of the Canadian credit cards shown below.
- American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card: It offers a $100 NEXUS free rebate every four years, a $200 annual travel credit, and unlimited airport lounge access worldwide for $699 annually.
- CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite Card: It offers a NEXUS card rebate of $100 and points rewards for every penny spent for travel, gas, groceries, or any other purchases at an annual fee of $139, which is the cheapest among the credit cards.
- TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Card: It offers a NEXUS card rebate of $100 for all types of credit cards every 4th year you have the card, with preferred pricing on reward flights. VIP treatment on check-in, boarding, and baggage handling at an annual fee of $599.
NEXUS Card vs. Passport
Generally, the NEXUS Card is an excellent alternative to a passport in Canada if you’re a frequent traveller in and out of the US borders, giving you various ways to travel to the US, either by air, land, or marine.
Below is a comprehensive comparison between the NEXUS card and passport to identify the best suits you.
|Countries accepted||US & Canada borders||Most international borders|
|Processing lanes||Nexus express lanes||Normal lanes except business|
|Cost||$50 for adults; Free for children;||$190-$260 CAD for adults; $100 CAD for children|
|Transportation||Land, air, boat transports||Air transport|
|Expiration||5 years||5-10 years|
NEXUS Lane Rules
Just like any entry port, NEXUS lanes have rules and regulations that you must abide by, and presented below are some of those:
- Always bring your passport with your NEXUS card if an officer asks to prove residency or citizenship.
- You can’t use a NEXUS card if you are travelling with non-members. Ensure that everyone with you, regardless of age, has a NEXUS card.
- If you are travelling with children, present the kid’s NEXUS card with the consent letter from the absent guardian and copies of valid custody papers.
- If you travel with pets, present a rabies certificate certified by a veterinarian and include essential information like the vaccine’s name, expiry date, serial number, breed, age, sex, or any distinguishing marks.
- Declare all personal goods you bought and gifts you received. Some restricted interests include firearms, commercial goods, and CAD 10,000 or more cash.
- If you are travelling with third-party goods, present receipts, invoices, and a permission letter from the rightful owner is a must.
How To Renew Your NEXUS Card in Canada
NEXUS cards are set to expire in five years, and if you decide to renew your NEXUS card in Canada, below are a few simple steps to take.
- Access the Traveller Programs System and login into your account.
- Choose the NEXUS program option to start renewing your account.
- Interviews may be required if personal information is modified or new info is added. Note that this may affect your eligibility.
Renewal applications properly completed are typically processed within 30 days and do not include time for delivery and interviews, which always have long queues.
Pros and Cons of the NEXUS Card
Here are some pros and cons of having a NEXUS card:
- Receive expedited border clearance at NEXUS-dedicated lanes and kiosks for fast processing
- Utilize Global Entry access to airport kiosks
- Cost-effective where the fee is cheaper than other Trusted Traveler Programs
- Multi-modes of transportation –air, land, and water
- The application process is time-consuming and requires significant effort because of background checking and in-person interview.
- Limited NEXUS enrollment centers
- Strict rules and regulations for NEXUS card privileges
- Privacy issues
Should You Get a NEXUS Card?
Whether or not you should apply for a NEXUS Card Canada is a personal decision that should be based on how often and where you go.
A NEXUS card is a cost-effective option and a wise investment for frequent travellers between Canada and US if you ought to have expedited clearance at crossing areas and on a tight budget.
Although the application process is lengthy, having a NEXUS card means smooth and more efficient future travel between US and Canada.
Getting a NEXUS card is easy if you have no customs record or violations. But the application process can take more or less 30 days, so it’s a long waiting game.
There is no other way to speed up the approval process of a NEXUS Card Canada besides the normal application process, as background checks are quite an essential part of the process. You can book the earliest available date and time for the interview. You should typically receive the card within ten calendar days from the date of approved applications.
To obtain a NEXUS membership card in Canada, you must complete an in-person interview at one of the NEXUS enrollment centers. During the interview, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will ask questions to confirm your identity and eligibility for the NEXUS program.
The application for a NEXUS card must be submitted online, while interviews must be conducted at one of the NEXUS enrollment centers, some located in airports. Multiple airports have reopened for interview appointments in 2023.