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I'm considering joining one of the US government's Trusted Traveler programs. I found this comparison chart (see below) on the Homeland Security website comparing TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, NEXUS, and SENTRI.

I'm a US citizen, so I'm eligible to join any of them. Now usually when you have multiple options for something, each has its own relative advantages and disadvantages. But when comparing TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry, and NEXUS, it appears that NEXUS offers all the benefits of the other two, in addition to expedited processing to enter Canada, and also costs a lot less. This seems a little too good to be true, so I wonder if I am missing something.

Given the choice between the three of them, is it really true that NEXUS is clearly superior in all ways? Or is there a catch?

(As for SENTRI, I guess the main extra benefit it offers is that you can register your car, so if you enter the US by road in your own car, you can use a special lane. I don't think I'd use that feature so I don't think it's worth it for me to pay the higher fee for SENTRI, unless it has even more features that I'm missing.)


Comparison chart:

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  • I created the trusted-traveler tag. Feel free to go back and add it to other questions about these programs and others that may be similar. – Nate Eldredge Aug 30 '15 at 17:51
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    The qualifications for each of these are not just "is a US citizen" so it's possible not everyone can get each of them. – Kate Gregory Aug 30 '15 at 18:19
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    There isn't much advantage to Global Entry now that any US or Canadian citizen, and VWP repeat travelers, can use the Automated Passport Control kiosks. – Michael Hampton Aug 30 '15 at 21:08
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    This isn't a comprehensive answer, so I'll leave it as a comment, but an important catch is that you can only have your Nexus application interview at various sites near the US-Canada border, while Global Entry and TSA-Pre interview sites are at many international airports throughout the US. If this is inconvenient for you, then Nexus probably isn't the program for you. – Zach Lipton Aug 30 '15 at 23:08
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    I have essentially the same question, but a bit more specific. So I'll see if this comment gets a response before posting something new: If I apply for NEXUS, get conditionally approved, then go up to Seattle or Detroit for the interview and they ask "Why do you want a NEXUS card?", will responding with "Because it's 15 dollars cheaper than PreCheck and I've always wanted to visit Canada," would they reject the application? In other words, would having no definite plans to travel to Canada be a deal-breaker? – Anthony Apr 29 '17 at 6:36
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I'm a NEXUS member, and it is indeed the case that NEXUS is the best of these. It gets you TSA-Pre, it includes all the benefits of Global Entry when entering the US, both the NEXUS lanes at land border crossings from Canada and the Global Entry machines in US airports (it doesn't matter where you are coming from), and it provides similar benefits when crossing into Canada by land or flying into a Canadian airport (from anywhere). And the price is $50 for 5 years, compared to $85 for TSA-Precheck and $100 for Global Entry.

The drawbacks of NEXUS are mostly related to the process of getting the membership. It takes about a month for a NEXUS application to be conditionally approved, which I understand is significantly longer than it takes for Global Entry alone, and the NEXUS interviews need to be conducted at a place where both CBP and CBSA officers are present, which mostly limits you to offices at US-Canada land border crossings or at the Canadian airports which have US preclearance facilities.

So if you live close enough to the Canada border to visit a border crossing for an interview, or you fly to Canada frequently enough to make an appointment at a Canadian airport convenient, the NEXUS membership is preferred. If getting to a NEXUS office is a problem, however, then you probably won't care so much about the Canadian privileges NEXUS provides beyond Global Entry in any case and it is likely worth the extra $50 to be able to do the Global Entry interview close to home.

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    There are some interview locations in the US (other than border crossings). There's one in Seattle. Strangely, not at our big airport; it's at what everyone calls Boeing Field (but is officially King County International Airport). – James Moore Jan 19 '16 at 18:39
  • I did see Seattle in the NEXUS office list, though it seems to be unique. Do you know if CBSA does preclearance somewhere in Seattle? I notice Kenmore Air, which flies from Boeing Field, also flies sea planes from Seattle direct to some fairly tiny places on the BC Inside Passage, so it might be more efficient to do the Canada customs inspection for them in Seattle before departure then it would be to man offices to process arrivals in all those places. If so the NEXUS office there would be like the offices at Canadian airports with US preclearance. – Dennis Feb 8 '16 at 2:47
  • @Dennis Canada doesn't do preclearance at Boeing Field, although it has the right to establish preclearance in the US; to date, it hasn't taken up the right. – Jim MacKenzie Nov 14 '17 at 2:49
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I have had TSA-Pre for a couple of years now thanks to my airline status. It has been a nice benefit, as it makes security a bit less burdensome, faster at big airports, less hassle at smaller airports.

I had INSPASS when it was in operation and while it sped up time through immigration, I still had to wait for my baggage, so the end result was still the same. As a result I have never bothered with Global Entry, as my work travel requires lots of gear, so I am always checking bags. If you travel globally with only carry on, then it might be worth looking into.

They now have the Passport Apps, which let you fill out your entry form on your phone, submit it when you land and breeze through immigration by simply having the barcode scanned (a bit faster than the kiosks and much faster than the old talk with an official lines, BUT not available at all international airports yet).

I could be wrong, but my understanding of NEXUS is that it is only for crossing between US & Canada. And while the NEXUS card holders can use Global Entry machines (in lieu of a NEXUS machine), it doesn't provide the same "global" coverage as Global Entry does (ie you can't use it for expedited entry when coming from China, France, etc).

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    NEXUS itself doesn't get you in, but part of getting NEXUS membership is that you also get Global Entry membership. (That may not have been true years ago, but it is now.). – James Moore Jan 19 '16 at 18:45
  • @JamesMoore - Perhaps you can cite a reference for your statement. Nexus allows you to use Global Entry kiosks at some border crossings, but it does not give you Global Entry membership. – user13044 Jan 20 '16 at 1:00
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    Looks like "membership" isn't the right word: goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/common/FAQ.html#faq_cardholder_11 and cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/nexus/…. Also if you log into your GOES account (goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov/main/goes/HomePagePreAction.do) and you've done your NEXUS interview and fingerprints it'll list Global Entry on your account. – James Moore Jan 20 '16 at 3:40
  • NEXUS does get you expedited entry when crossing between Canada and the USA. Based on your links it would seem you can now obtain Global Entry, by fulfilling the fingerprint requirements and such. So the question would be, what fee do you pay as Nexus is still $50 and Global Entry is $100. Seems a ripoff if you can sneak in Global Entry with a Nexus application for half price. – user13044 Jan 20 '16 at 5:33
  • When you do your NEXUS interview, part of it is doing the fingerprint stuff for Global Entry; it's not an optional extra. NEXUS fees are decided jointly by Canada and the US, so it's not really surprising that they're really different than the other programs. Doing NEXUS is better than Global Entry by itself - cheaper and does more. The big catch is that you have to interview with both the Canadians and the US, and the number of places you can do that is small and geographically restricted. But if you can get to a NEXUS interview, you should. (Plus, the NEXUS card is valid airport ID.) – James Moore Jan 20 '16 at 14:45
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We travel frequently to Canada and find that they are now accepting Global Entry as equivalent to Nexus in terms of fast security check lines and fast customs processing. About the only difference I can see is that Nexus is the cheaper of the two.

  • It is true that at Canadian airports GE lets you use GE machines at US preclearance and the card gets you into the NEXUS line at security. The card also lets you use US-bound NEXUS lanes at the land border. I don't, however, think the card allows you to use the NEXUS machines to clear Canadian airport immigration (those machines use an iris scan biometric that is only recorded at NEXUS interview offices, GE machines use finger prints) and I doubt it is useful in Canada-bound NEXUS lanes at the land border. You need the NEXUS membership for those. – Dennis Jan 3 '18 at 1:50
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    You cannot use GE in a NEXUS lane entering Canada by land, or at all entering Canada by air or water. You can use GE in a NEXUS lane entering the US, however. So there is a significant difference in functionality. – Jim MacKenzie Apr 28 '18 at 5:44
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Your Global entry card is also a "legal" document in airports. Global entry also has an affiliation with other Countries, I don't know if Nexus does, It is not mentioned

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    Do you have a reference for that ? – blackbird Jul 13 '16 at 15:53
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    This answer seems very vague and I don't understand it. What do you mean when you say "legal" document? What kind of "affiliation" are you talking about? What is the practical significance of this for a traveler? – Nate Eldredge Jul 13 '16 at 17:47
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    A Global Entry card is a federal ID that the TSA accepts yes. And Global Entry is available to citizens of some other countries while NEXUS has more limited eligibility requirements, as noted in the linked comparison chart in the question. – Zach Lipton Jul 13 '16 at 18:01
  • tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification lists "DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)" as "valid identification" so both the Global Entry card and the NEXUS card work. – user Sep 8 '17 at 0:33

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