If you use a NEXUS card, the chances are that you travel frequently between the United States and Canada. Generally, to cross the border between both countries, you would need proof of your citizenship or residency and a non-immigration visa where applicable. However, you can also use a NEXUS card to travel through designated lanes between Canada and the US.

If you’ve never heard about a NEXUS membership or used a NEXUS card, this guide explains everything you need to know about the NEXUS card for Canadians. To find out more about the NEXUS membership, how to apply for a NEXUS card and use it for your travels, then keep reading.

What is the NEXUS card?

The NEXUS card can be used to cross the border between US and Canada by Canadian citizens who have been pre-screened and considered low-risk individuals. You can benefit from expedited processing through dedicated lanes at the airport, land borders, or marine reporting locations when you have a NEXUS membership card. If you go back and forth between Canada and the U.S. frequently, you will love NEXUS. You might also choose a USD credit card to make purchases when you are in the U.S.

Where to use a NEXUS card

You can use a NEXUS Card at the airport, land, or marine borders between Canada and the United States. To use the NEXUS card at the airport or land borders, you need to proceed to a designated NEXUS lane or kiosk and show your membership card in front of a card reader or a border officer.

If you have a NEXUS card, you will still need to comply with the necessary screening processes, such as walking through a metal detector and carrying out an x-ray check of your hand luggage at the airport. You may be required to go through additional search procedures when necessary.

Air travel

When you travel by air with a NEXUS card, you can use the automated self-serve kiosks at the airport for an expedited check and clearance. Self-serve NEXUS kiosks are available at 9 major international airports in U.S. soil.

NEXUS members are allowed access to Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) airport security screening lanes at 16 locations and to Transportation Security Administration Pre-Check lines at over 200 participating U.S. airports. You will need to show a valid NEXUS card to pass through the Trusted Traveller CATSA Security Line. 

With your NEXUS card, you will also be able to use Global Entry kiosks in the United States as well as in 8 Canadian airports.

Land travel

As of 2022, you can use the NEXUS card to travel to the US through 16 land border crossings and come back to Canada at 21 designated land border crossings. You can pass through a designated NEXUS lane when you arrive at a land border. Sometimes, the NEXUS lanes at some land borders may be closed; it is essential to confirm if you can use your NEXUS card before you begin your travels. 

Marine travel

To cross the Canada-US border by water, you will need to call the respective Telephone Reporting Centres (TRCs) between thirty minutes and four hours before you arrive at the marine border. The NEXUS card gives you faster processing at all marine crossings when entering the U.S.

How much does it cost to get a NEXUS card?

To get a NEXUS card, you need to pay an application fee of $50 USD. This fee is non-refundable and applies to all adults above eighteen years old. Online applications are usually processed in US currency only. 

When you pay the application fee and are accepted into the NEXUS program, you have a five-year membership status. If you lose your NEXUS card, you can apply for a new one; this would cost a fee of $25 USD.

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Benefits of a NEXUS card

The NEXUS card provides many benefits for frequent travellers. Sometimes, traveling can be chaotic; with a NEXUS card, you can bypass big crowds and long lines. Like I said, it is a fast pass for a lot of the tiring aspects of travel. If you travel with kids, it can save your sanity, but more on that later.

The most beneficial perk people with NEXUS cards get to enjoy is expedited entry into the US or Canada by air, land, or boat. Having to save time at busy airports or avoid long line-ups at land borders can be a huge plus, especially if you’re running late, which happens often. Your travel insurance provider may not cover missed flights, so getting a NEXUS card can save you time and a lot of money.

One great advantage of the NEXUS membership is that it is afforfable compared to its counterparts. You effectively pay half-price compared to similar US programs like the Transport Security Administration (TSA) PreCheck and the Global Entry programs. These can cost up to 100 dollars. That means that your NEXUS card costs 10 dollars per year, as your membership is valid for five years.

Security clearance and checks can be overwhelming if you are a frequent traveller or even just an occasional traveller. With the NEXUS card, you receive pre-clearance when passing through security screening lines at designated airports in Canada and the US. It can make a lot of sense if you have the budget.

Eligibility for the NEXUS card

To get on the Canada-US NEXUS program, you would need to be either a citizen or permanent resident of either country. Mexican nationals who are part of the Viajero Confiable program are also eligible to apply for a NEXUS card. A complete list of eligibility requirements is on the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) site.

If you are a permanent resident of Canada or the US, you must meet the three-year residency rule. The residency rule requires you to have been a legal resident of both countries for at least three years before the day you apply for a NEXUS membership. You can be exempt from the residency requirement if you or your family serves with the armed forces of Canada or the United States, or if you are a family member of someone involved in a diplomatic mission or consular post.

Additionally, you will need to be 18 years-of-age or above to apply for a NEXUS card. Children cannot apply for NEXUS themselves. If you do not meet the age requirement, you will need to apply with parental or legal consent to participate in the program. 

The NEXUS program is designed for low-risk travellers. Your application into the program needs to be approved by Canada and the United States. If one of the countries denies your application, you cannot get a NEXUS membership. 

Getting approved for the NEXUS card is not automatic. You can get denied or disqualified for reasons such as falsifying any information on your application, providing incomplete information, having any criminal records or pending criminal charges, or being inadmissible to the United States under immigration regulations. In general, if you are considered a high-risk individual, your NEXUS application may not get approved.

How to apply for a NEXUS Card

The NEXUS card application is straightforward. You can either apply by yourself or use a representative. Using a representative can cost you extra charges for the fee you will need to pay the representative. When you use a representative to apply for a NEXUS membership, this does not guarantee that your application will be approved; you will still need to provide accurate and complete information.

Use the following steps to apply for a NEXUS membership:

  • Confirm your eligibility. Check the NEXUS membership requirements to assess if you can get a NEXUS card.
  • Provide supporting documents. Documents to provide for a NEXUS card application include:
    • Proof of residency such as valid driver's license, a federal or provincial identification card, or any eligible document with a current address.
    • Proof of citizenship such as a valid passport, a birth certificate, photo ID, citizenship certificate or card, certificate of Indian Status, a valid permanent resident card, or a record of landing.
    • Consent letter for children below 18 years where applicable.
  • Complete the online applications through the Trusted Traveller Programs (TTP) system and pay the NEXUS fee.
  • The US CBP and the CBSA will review your application. This step is done to carry out background checks and determine your eligibility for the NEXUS program.
  • You can check your application status through your Trusted Traveller profile. You may need to book an interview appointment with the CBP.
  • Your membership application process will be completed at a NEXUS enrolment centre. You will be required to attend an interview conducted jointly by CBP and CBSA officers to finalize enrolment.
  • You will be fingerprinted.

New enrolment options

US and Canadian governments took action to accelerate the aproval of NEXUS applicants. There is a new enrolment option for air travellers available since spring 2023. New applicants have been waiting over a year to get their NEXUS cards and the government is trying to speed up the process, considering the significant backlog.

How can you benefit from this new enrolment option? First, you need to book an appointment online for the NEXUS interview conducted by Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers at Canadian airport enrolment centres. Later, the U.S. portion of the NEXUS interview will be conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the preclearance area of a Canadian airport. You do not need to book an appointment for this interview but you are encouraged to allow enough time for it to take place before your departure. Arrive early at the airport! 

This new option builds on other measures introduced by CBP and CBSA in 2022 to help you obtain or renew your membership, including a new NEXUS enrolment centre in Ogdensburg (New York) with joint interviews as well as anew split interview process at two land ports of entry in Ontario (Lansdowne and Fort Erie). If these new measures are not interesting to you, you can still schedule joint interviews with CBP and CBSA officers at land border enrolment centres in the United States.

Getting a NEXUS membership for your child

Travelling with children can be a hassle, especially when flying through a bustling airport. The airport security and clearance process is straightforward and can be a breeze with a NEXUS card. When you are pre-cleared to go through a NEXUS kiosk, this relieves you of a lot of stress. 

If your child is below 18 years-old, they will need parental or legal consent to get a NEXUS membership. A minor can get approved into the NEXUS program even if you are not a NEXUS member as the parent or legal guardian. If you and your spouse or common-law partner have legal custody of the child, you will need a letter of consent from the other parent if they are absent for the application process.

In the case of a separation or divorce, you will not require a letter of consent as the sole custodian of a child. If applicable, you will need to provide a custody agreement that confirms whether the child can legally leave Canada. If both parents or legal guardian(s) are absent during a NEXUS membership interview for a minor, they must provide letters of consent along with other required documents. 

Get your NEXUS card for free with these credit cards 

If you want to travel not only faster but also cheaper, your should charge your NEXUS application fee to your credit card. Not all credit cards offer this discount. The three cards listed below offer a rebate ranging from $50 to $100. Those are Canadian dollars, while you pay $50 US for the card. You may also have to pay your credit card’s foreign exchange fee. Despite these minor drawbacks, credit cards that offer a discount on NEXUS are worth it if you use them wisely.

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TD Visa Infinite Aeroplan was ranked Top Airline Credit Card by Rewards Canada. It costs 139$ per year but waives this annual fee for the first year. The TD Aeroplan card lets you enroll for NEXUS and get a juicy application fee rebate!  You could save up to $100 once every 2 years. It’s particularly helpful if you travel with a spouse or children, given that one NEXUS card lasts 5 years. With this card, you can earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on eligible gas, grocery and Air Canada purchases, as well as 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases made with your card. You can earn even more points at over 150 Aeroplan partners.

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With the American Express® Gold Rewards Card, you can receive a $50 statement credit every 4 years for the application or renewal fee for the NEXUS program. The Gold card costs 250$ per year, so make sure you use it enough to get a lot of rewards. You get 2 points on every dollar spent on travel and everyday purchases like groceries and gas, as well as 1 point for everything else. Their welcome offer lets you earn 5,000 rewards points for each monthly billing period in which you spend $1,000 in purchases and an additional 10,000 points when you charge $4,000 to your card in the first three months. That makes 70,000 points that you can redeem for $700 towards. American Express Gold card has no foreign transaction fee.

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CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite is made for travelers. It costs $139 per year, but you the fee is waived for the first year for the primary cardholder. This card helps you speed up your border crossings with an application fee rebate on NEXUS up to a maximum value of $100 every 4 years. CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite also offers complimentary visits at 1,200 airport lounges globally through Visa Airport Companion Program. How do you accumulate more rewards? You get 2 Aventura points for every $1 spent on travel purchased through the CIBC Rewards Centre, 1.5 points for every $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores and drug stores as well as 1 point for everything else.

Key things to know about the NEXUS card

If you consider getting a NEXUS card, here are quick facts you should know about the program.

  • You will need to apply online as the CBSA no longer accepts paper applications.
  • You will need to do an interview to get a NEXUS membership.
  • You may not need a passport when crossing the border between the US and Canada if you are a Canadian citizen and have a NEXUS card.
  • You can apply to get a NEXUS card for your child who is below 18 years-of-age for free.
  • When you get a NEXUS membership, you may be able to participate in the US Global Entry and TSA PreCheck programs.
  • The NEXUS card is a document compliant with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) US law.
  • You can also use your NEXUS card at non-NEXUS lanes to enter the US or Canada.
  • You cannot use NEXUS designated lanes if you are crossing the border with $10,000 or more.
  • Your NEXUS membership is valid for only five years, after which you will need to get a renewal for a $50 USD fee.
  • You may be required to do an interview again if you need to replace your card or renew your membership.

Should you get the NEXUS card?

Here is a better question. Ask yourself “Why shouldn't you get a Nexus card?” Canadian citizens or residents who travel frequently can benefit from having a NEXUS membership. It is affordable and allows you to enjoy hassle-free airport processes and escape long land border lines. To increase your chances of getting approval, you need to provide complete and accurate information when applying for a NEXUS membership.

Frequently asked questions about the NEXUS card

What is a NEXUS card?

The NEXUS card is used to cross the border faster between US and Canada. You need to apply, go through a selection process and pay a fee of $50 USD to get it.

How to get a NEXUS card?

To get the NEXUS card, you have to complete the online application through the Trusted Traveller Programs (TTP) system and pay the NEXUS fee. You will be interview bu CBP and CBSA before it is delivered to you.

How to renew my NEXUS card? 

If you renew your membership before the expiry date, you can retain your NEXUS privileges. You can online and pay the processing fee through the Trusted Traveller Programs (TTP) System.

How long does it take to get a NEXUS card?

Your application may be processed within 30 business days of receipt. However, this estimate does not include the scheduling of your enrolment interview which depends on the availability of appointments at enrolment centres. It may take considerably longer, up to 14 months.

How to activate my NEXUS card? 

You will need to submit an activation request online.

Can I use my NEXUS card in Europe? 

No, the NEXUS program only applies to the United States and Canada.

Can I use my NEXUS card to enter Mexico? 

No, your NEXUS card allows you to enter the U.S. and Canada. You may enter the U.S. from Mexico, but not the other way around.

Is a NEXUS card worth it?

The NEXUS card has many benefits for frequent travellers between the United States and Canada. Chaotic airports are not always fun. When you need to bypass huge crowds, the NEXUS card can come in handy. The $50 USD application fee is considered affordable, especially given that it buys you a five-year membership.

Can a Canadian permanent resident get a NEXUS card?

Yes, permanent residents have access to NEXUS. They may be subject to the 3-year residency rule.

Can I get a NEXUS card with a pardon?

You can, but it may be difficult. For example, once your pardon is granted, the Americans may still have your information on record if you applied for NEXUS and were denied prior to the pardon. To find out for sure, you have to try to apply for NEXUS and see what the result is.

Do you need a passport if you have a NEXUS card?

If you are a Canadian or US citizen with a valid NEXUS membership, you do not need a passport to cross the US and Canada borders at designated airports. However, if you depart from non-designated airports, you may still need your passport. The CBSA recommends to always travel with your passport. It is important to note that the NEXUS card does not give you access to other countries. You  will need a passport and, if applicable, a visa to travel to other foreign countries.
Additionally, as a permanent resident of Canada, the US. or a Mexican national who is part of the Viajero Confiable program, you will still need a passport, your proof of permanent residence, if applicable, a visa when traveling.

What are the requirements to get a NEXUS card?

Generally, you have to be considered a low-risk individual and a Canadian or US citizen or permanent resident to qualify for a NEXUS membership. You will need to provide the required documents. Family members of US or Canadian armed forces members, as well as family members of people on diplomatic missions or consulate activities can apply before three years of living as a legal or permanent resident.

Can I get a NEXUS card for free?

While the NEXUS membership costs Canadians $50 USD, some credit card providers now offer a NEXUS fee rebate as part of the benefits of using their credit card.