Nexus has saved me so much time from lining up at customs.
So what exactly is NEXUS?
- From Canada Border Services Agency: “NEXUS is designed to expedite the border clearance process for low-risk, pre-approved travellers into Canada and the United States.”
- Air: You will need to cross US Customs on the Canadian side. Take an expedited line with retina scan. Pick up a print out and hand it to the officer before security. For Pearson (YYZ), there’s an expedited line once you get to security. Coming back to Canada, you can do the same retina scan, print out a card, and hand this card + declaration card back to officer after picking up your luggage at the carousel.
- Land: Special NEXUS line when crossing the border. Point RFID NEXUS card at the reader. Officer will ask you simple questions and most if the time they’ll wave you right through very quickly.
- Marine: I’ve never done this before so I can’t really comment here but I assume it would be the same as Land.
- After you apply you’ll need to set up an appointment with NEXUS to do an interview. Everyone is trying to get NEXUS so appointment times are usually several months out. If you’re willing, the Niagara/Buffalo side is more open. The interview process is a little intimidating as the officers ask you a bunch of questions but once you’re done they take a photo and you’re good to go.
Why It’s Worth It To Get a NEXUS Pass
- It’s only $50 and is valid for 5 years. $10 a year and that’s it. I tell this to everyone and they’re convinced.
- I’m laughing my way through when the line, whether at the airport or land crossings, is enormous and i’m sneaking my way through the NEXUS line and get through right away. Saves an enormous amount of time during high season.
- At Pearson anyways, there’s usually a massive line right before you get into the customs guys because there’s usually 1 or 2 ladies that do a pre-check to make sure you filled out your US declaration card properly and have a boarding pass. If you’re NEXUS you have the right to jump to the front of the line. Just make sure you show your NEXUS pass and they’ll jump you ahead of everyone else in line. Not a well-known fact I think.
- Typically there’s little to no questioning with NEXUS which saves you from having to explain yourself every time and dealing with those anal custom officers.
- Did I mention that you save a lot of time? Pearson is set up to award those that have the NEXUS. You by pass the pre-customs, the customs itself, security and I have seen some time-saving bonuses for domestic Canadian flights.
- You don’t have to necessarily be a travelling businessman like I was to make use of it. Even if you cross the Buffalo border or fly to the US a few times a year you could be saving hours of time that don’t need to be buffered into your plans.
Other Points To Consider
- If you’re travelling in a group, you will have to make a judgement call on whether to use NEXUS or not. If you’re travelling by plane, are the other people you’re travelling with okay with you taking the expedited customs line then you can do so but make sure your non-NEXUS friends have the information they need to present to the customs officer. If you’re travelling by car everyone in the car needs to have NEXUS so most of the time that doesn’t really work unless you’re on your own.
- In order not to get your pass revoked you pretty much need to follow all the rules when it comes to declaring goods. If they catch you sneaking more goods than you declare then you may get your membership revoked. If you’re crossing into the US, technical any foods including granola bars need to be declared under “fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, FOOD, insects”. As a result, if you indicate that you are bringing food items over, it’s automatic secondary. This process is a bit painful but once you explain that all you have is a granola bar then they’ll let you right through. So I suppose that’s one knock on NEXUS. You can’t bring food into the US if you don’t want to go through secondary.
Update – 11-13-13
- For a good part of this year, when going to the US from Canada, you don’t even need to fill out the customs form anymore. They have these snazzy new machines where you scan your passport, do a finger print scan and web cam shot. The touch screen will ask a bunch of questions similar to the card and then you a cool new print out. Take it straight to the customs officer with your boarding card. You’ll get a stamp and then you’re good to go!
- Coming back to Canada (I can only speak for YYZ Toronto) the machines are still the same for NEXUS as before: iris scan and print out.