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I've been told vaguely after seeing on a forum that the NEXUS Card is the greatest thing since sliced bread. My understanding is that it's a card for frequent travellers between the US and Canada.

However, why frequent travellers? Does it cost each time? And do you need to be a US/Canadian citizen to get one? Living in Vancouver this year I anticipate a few trips across the border, and smoother immigration is always preferable...

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

According to the NEXUS site, both Canadian and US citizens are eligible (and only US/Canada citizens). The program is only for the Canadian border (northern land crossings, US immigration checkpoints in Canadian airports and NEXUS kiosks at various marine entry points).

It costs $50 to get the card, you don't need to pay to use it. It replaces your passport for land and marine crossings between the US and Canada. Air travel between US and Canada still requires a Passport, although a Nexus card can expedite customs clearance in airports.

For US citizens and green card holders (and citizens of Mexico and Holland) there's also a Global Entry program, which is similar in nature. It appears that the programs are being connected/merged, but I'm not sure what's going on exactly.

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Note that both citizens and permanent residents of either country are eligible for NEXUS. And, Global Entry is pointless anymore due to the new free APC kiosks which many more people can use, along with smartphone passport control for US and Canadian citizens. – Michael Hampton Aug 7 '15 at 15:55
Yes, I got a NEXUS card while I was a permanent resident (and the same year a few months prior I was sent to secondary on a border crossing and even that did not make me ineligible. go figure.). – chx May 6 at 22:20
At least in Canada, NEXUS gets you preferential treatment every time you come through an airport, no matter where you are going to/coming from. – DJClayworth Jun 2 at 14:56

While you don't need to be a frequent traveler, you do need to have a motivation to go to the airport at least once while not traveling (to be interviewed and have your iris scan) and to spend $50. I think it justified itself the first time I used it. You skip the entire lineup for customs and immigration and instead spend a few moments at a kiosk. It's marvelous. Occasionally you are sent for random inspection, and if you're breaking any rules (and the Nexus rules are stricter than the regular border rules) you lose your card. Forever. Trust me, that motivates you to stick to the stricter rules.

When the program started, you had to be both a citizen and a resident of the US or Canada. I was told to bring things like Hydro bills to prove I lived here. In 2012 this was relaxed somewhat - now citizens of Canada and the US who live there (but may not have done so for 3 years recently) are eligible, as well as "permanent residents." You have to tell someone why you tend to cross the border. There's a background check and some general investigating of you in advance, plus the interview. All well worth it.

In the years since Nexus was introduced the benefits have increased. For example, YYZ (and perhaps other airports) has a Nexus security line which saves you 20-30 minutes of waiting and guarantees you won't have to go through the nude-o-scope (I think they are also less demanding about shoes and belts.) I was also automatically enrolled in TSA Pre because I have Nexus. The time savings really add up.

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Go to the airport IN A CITY THAT HAS AN INTERVIEW OFFICE. For many people that means a plane trip. – Loren Pechtel May 4 '12 at 2:06
@LorenPechtel good point, I was being YYZ-centric again. Though it is a 90 minute drive there for me so it was nontrivial. – Kate Gregory May 4 '12 at 11:26

The rules are here:

You have to be a citizen OR resident of the U.S. OR Canada. That is, if you are a resident of the US or Canada you can have some other passport. You do have to live in the US or Canada, but the former rule that you had to live here for three years is gone. NEXUS is cheaper than Global Entry and gives you everything GE does. You have to visit an enrollment center, which are located both at Canadian airports and at land border crossings -- for example I got mine in Fort Erie ON, across the river from Buffalo. You can only get the iris scans you need to use the Canadian immigration machines at Canadian centers; if you get your NEXUS at a US center you are supposed to be able to drop into any Canadian center without an appointment and get the scans added.

Little known fact: you can get a NEXUS card without having a passport, so for most purposes it's better and cheaper than the US passport card.

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I believe you're overstating the relaxation. If you are a Canadian citizen who lives in Hong Kong I don't believe you're eligible. But when you move back to Canada you won't have to wait 3 years to be eligible, as you once did. Also where you have "resident" you should have "permanent resident" which is an immigration status, not just where you happen to reside. – Kate Gregory Jun 1 at 10:57

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