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Cross the Canada-US border often? Get the NEXUS Card so you can skip the line-ups
Skip the traffic at Canada-US border crossings with a NEXUS Card
NEXUS is a bi-national program jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the US’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The NEXUS card costs only $50, and with it you barely have to slow down as you breeze through the customs process.
It’s the perfect wanderlust accessory, especially for those who love spontaneous trips across the border. With the NEXUS card, you won’t have to plan on leaving at the crack of dawn to bypass the traffic. Go anytime, come home anytime!
It’s valid for five years, but I would have gladly paid that full amount for a one-time pass as I sat in the car for nearly two hours at the Peace Arch border crossing, after the six-hour drive home from Portland.
As soon as I got back from Portland, I began the process of applying for a NEXUS card, which provides access to dedicated line-ups at all Canada-US air, land and marine border crossings. Yes, that means you get to skip the typically lengthy waits, which are often the worst part about a weekend trip south of the border. There’s nothing like having to sit and stew for hours at the border to burst the momentum of an otherwise fun road trip.
This photo ID card certifies that you’ve been pre-screened and pre-approved as a low-risk traveller for these two countries. It’s an approved form of citizenship documentation when entering Canada and the US and can take the place of your passport.
Remember though, it’s specific to Canada & the US. You’ll definitely still need a passport for travel to other countries. And if you’re travelling by car, every person needs to have a NEXUS card in order to access the special lanes.
The process is easy – easier than applying for a passport. There are two main components: an application form, which takes about 45 minutes to fill out, and an in-person interview, during which they review your information and take your photo for the ID card, all done in about 15 minutes.
Each person requiring a NEXUS card needs to make a separate application. The entire process takes 6-8 weeks, so plan ahead!
You may apply for your NEXUS card either by mailing in your application form or by filling it out online.
To mail in your form:
To submit your form online:
For the interview, you’ll be talking to a US CBP officer who’ll ask you a few questions to verify information on your application. Don’t forget to bring any supporting documents you’ve been asked to supply. Then they’ll take your picture for your ID card.
For the last step of this interview you’ll be talking to a Canadian CBSA officer, who’ll review the basic privileges and warnings of using your new NEXUS card. Remember that the usual customs regulations still apply. You’ll still need to declare your Trader Joe’s groceries and outlet shopping hauls. And yes, they do random checks.
Your NEXUS card should arrive by mail within 4-6 weeks. The final step of this application process is to activate your card within 30 days of receiving it. You must activate online before using. If you miss this 30-day period, you’ll need to start the entire process over again, including paying the $50 fee. And that’s $50 that could otherwise go towards a lovely little something at Nordstrom’s.