One of the most stressful things about airport travel is going through security. Fortunately in Canada, we don’t have the TSA so rarely do we get stories of a 4 year olds having to remove their leg braces in order to clear security.
Sorry for the low quality of the video but you get the idea.
Even so, clearing airport security can be a stressful environment even for the most seasoned traveller. When you go through security next time, take a look at how many fans are blowing in the area to cool down people that are sweating. There’s something about overzealous security folks coupled by people that are in a hurry that makes it an extremely uncomfortable way to start a trip.
That’s where NEXUS comes in.
What is NEXUS
NEXUS is a program that low-risk travellers can enroll in with the Canadian Government which allows for an expedited screening process at security checkpoints in Canada.
In simpler terms, you get through security much faster and with much less stress.
Here’s a recent picture of the security line at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport (YYZ):
This isn’t even a busy time at the airport …
Here’s a picture of the Nexus line that I went through:
That’s 5 people in line … in a dedicated NEXUS line.
If you’ve ever tried to cross a land border between Canada and the US you will know that wait times can be atrocious but if you have a NEXUS card, you breeze right through in the dedicated NEXUS lane.
- No declaration form to fill out when going through US Customs and Immigration
- Expedited line through US Customs and Immigration
- Expedited security lines at most airports (you usually don’t find NEXUS lines at smaller airports)
- Expedited line through Canadian Customs and Immigration when returning to Canada
- Expedited line for US/Canada land border crossings
- NEXUS card serves as a second government issued picture ID (handy for some situations)
On my recent Mileage Run, I timed from when I stepped off the plane to the time I was curbside at the airport and it was 7 minutes. Most of that was the walk from the plane to immigration. This was all thanks to the NEXUS card.
Okay I’m Sold … How Do I Get a NEXUS Card?
Well in order to get a NEXUS card, you have to qualify to be in the trusted traveller program. To begin with, you must be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada or the United States.
The following is taken directly from the Canada Border Services Agency’s website:
The cost for a NEXUS card, or actually, the cost to process the application for a NEXUS card is $50 CAD. This is for a 5 year membership, which in my eyes is one of the best purchases I have ever made.
How to Apply
In order to apply for a NEXUS card, you can either fill in an online application or a paper application. This application is fairly simple and feels very similar to a passport application. You will need to photocopy your passport and driver’s licence and provide your last 5 years of employment information as well as 5 years of address history.
You can get more information for how to join NEXUS at http://www.nexus.gc.ca/prog/nexus/application-demande-eng.html.
After you send in your paperwork and payment, the CBSA will review your application. If you pass the screening, you will receive a letter indicating that you have been conditionally approved. Once you get this letter, you will be invited to schedule an interview at a NEXUS Enrolment Centre (at an airport).
The Interview Process is actually pretty simple and straightforward. You have nothing to worry about if you haven’t provided false information on your application.
When I completed my interview, they simply asked questions to verify the information I had put in my application and asked why I wanted a NEXUS card. I told them the truth that I wanted to expedite the security process because I travelled a lot.
Once you pass the interview, you will be asked to provide biometric information (during the same appointment), meaning they will take your fingerprints and a retina scan. These are both required as the NEXUS machines at the airports require a two-factor authentication to prove you should be allowed back through the expedited immigration checkpoint. You are often asked to provide the machine your Nexus card as well as a retina scan to verify your identity. In some situations (typically on the US side), the machine will ask for your fingerprints rather than your retina scan.
I received my Nexus card about 4 years ago and I would never go back to the regular way of doing it. Even if you only travel once a year, the added benefit of an expedited line can dramatically lower your stress levels which can be a big thing when you are going on vacation. I highly recommend that you get a NEXUS card. Spend your time in a lounge, not at security.