Unlocking the Border: The Ultimate Guide to NEXUS for Seamless International Travel

When you think of your favorite dynamic duo, you probably think of something like bacon and eggs. Barbie and Ken. Netflix and chill. 

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You likely don’t think of travel between the U.S. and Canada. After all, crossing between the two countries, whether by air, land, or sea, can be a headache. Enter NEXUS: the glue solidifying this international relationship and benefiting travelers who love exploring the U.S. and Canada. 

What is NEXUS, exactly? This comprehensive guide will demystify the program and detail its many benefits to help you decide whether to pursue a membership.

What is NEXUS?

NEXUS might sound like a planet from a sci-fi movie, but it’s  an effective travel program built for the United States and Canada.

NEXUS is a Trusted Traveler Program (TTP) supervised by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Department of Homeland Security and the Canada Border Services Agency. The initiative aims to decrease processing times for pre-registered individuals traveling between the United States and Canada. NEXUS enrollees enjoy dedicated processing lanes, special kiosks, or other expediting procedures while crossing the border via land, air, or sea.1

How does NEXUS work? The CBP and Canada Border Services Agency cooperate in accepting low-risk individuals to grant coveted expedited entry, reducing wait times at the border and providing smoother, less stressful travel experiences to those in the program. 

Defining NEXUS Eligibility

Are you eligible for a NEXUS membership? The following individuals are qualified to apply2:

  • U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents
  • Canadian citizens and Canadian lawful permanent residents
  • Mexican nationals enrolled in Mexico’s TTP (Viajero Confiable)
  • Youths under 18 years old with a parent or legal guardian consent

Besides allowing shorter wait times at the U.S.-Canada border, NEXUS offers attractive benefits that can enhance your travel experience in various ways. 

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The Complete Benefits of NEXUS

NEXUS is unique from other TTPs and might be a more attractive option depending on how often you can utilize its benefits. Do you live close to the U.S.-Canada border? Do you have family in the U.S. or Canada and live in the opposite country? Or do you simply love to travel and explore new places?

Here are the complete benefits of the NEXUS program.

  • The flexibility of travel – TTPs like Global Entry and TSA PreCheck only provide special privileges when flying. NEXUS gives you more transportation options for moving between the U.S. and Canada. If you’re driving across the border, you can use specially designated NEXUS lanes for a faster crossing. When flying, you can use NEXUS kiosks to clear Canadian customs faster and Global Entry kiosks to clear U.S. customs faster. And if you’re sailing across the border, you simply call a marine telephone reporting center to confirm and clear your arrival.
  • Access to the NEXUS card – What is the NEXUS card used for? The NEXUS card is an identification card that proves your membership in the program and is your key for accessing expedited queues and lanes at U.S. and Canada ports of entry. Simply tap your physical NEXUS card at a proximity reader or kiosk in the participating U.S. or Canadian airports, and you are on your way. NEXUS cards are valid for five years.
  • Potential access to TSA PreCheck – One of the major benefits of undergoing the background check and identity vetting process of NEXUS is that it opens your access to other TTP systems that benefit low-risk travelers. TSA PreCheck is a $78 value by itself and allows speedy clearance through security on flights departing from most U.S. airports. Enrolling in NEXUS, means your flights leaving the U.S. may be eligible for TSA PreCheck status, a huge time saver and bargain as a free addition to NEXUS.3

How To Apply For NEXUS

Ready to empower your adventures between the United States and Canada? The following steps to apply are easy, but keep in mind that the application processing time is 12-14 months according to CBP—so get the ball rolling as soon as possible if you’re interested in enrolling.

  1. Create an account on the Trusted Travelers Programs (TTP) website and fill out your NEXUS application.
  2. Pay a processing fee of $50 online within the TTP portal. This fee is non-refundable, so answer application questions carefully to avoid any mistakes.
  1. Wait for both Canadian and U.S. approval of your application. You cannot participate in the program if either country denies your application.
  1. Upon receiving conditional approval, schedule an interview at a NEXUS enrollment location to become a NEXUS member officially.

Do you have any exciting international trips planned while waiting for your NEXUS application to be processed? If so, you’ll want to ensure your phone is properly prepared for the journey with  travel apps and a traveler’s eSIM from Maya Mobile. And don’t forget to have all your international travel documents handy!

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  1. U.S. Customs and Border Protection. NEXUS. https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/nexus
  2. U.S. Customs and Border Protection. NEXUS Eligibility. https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/nexus/nexus-eligibility
  3. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Trusted Traveler Programs. https://ttp.cbp.dhs.gov/