How to Fast-Track across the US – Canadian Border

Standing in line at immigration be it at the airport or on the road can be frustrating. I remember once waiting for 3 hours at Ambassador Bridge at the Detroit border crossing; I had two bored kids in the car and a screaming baby. Nowadays there is no need to wait in line for long periods. The NEXUS card offers expedited travel by road, air and sea. NEXUS cardholders can cross the border much faster by using designated NEXUS lanes; there is also less intrusion from customs and immigration officers.

Qualifying as a NEXUS Card Holder

NEXUS cards are given to low risk travellers who are permanent residents or citizens of either the US or Canada who have lived in one or both countries on a continuous basis for at least the last three years. Low risk means that you have no criminal record or previous border violations. Even the simplest of offences will count against you no matter how many years have passed since the crime or violation was committed. Border officials security check every applicant to make sure that their immigration and citizenship details are correct and legal. Criminal history is checked with the US FBI, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, CSIS and Interpol. No-fly lists and databases tracking known terrorists are also checked – for every applicant.

Applying for a NEXUS Card

Getting the card is simple. You can fill out an application online at the Global Online Enrollment System or print off a paper application from the Canadian Border Services website and mail it to the NEXUS offices in either Niagara Falls or Montreal.  Filling out the form online takes around one hour providing you are computer literate, but the benefit is that you don’t have to scan in documents for submission with your application. Some of the jargon is technical and you must check your application thoroughly before you certify that the contents are accurate – incomplete or inaccurate information will result in your application being delayed and in some instances denied. The paper application contains a lot of detailed notes but they are not laid out in a user friendly manner. Nevertheless, there are fewer questions to answer with the paper application – but nothing to significantly reduce the form filling time from an hour. A point to note for those who despise filling in forms is that every person in your family or party must be a NEXUS card holder if you are to fast track the border together; even young children have to have their own NEXUS card. This can mean a lot of work to those applying with family, friends or loved ones. The cost for each application is $50 payable in US or Canadian dollars.  Once your application is conditionally approved you attend an interview for an iris scan, fingerprinting and a chat with a border official about the NEXUS program. After this your card is issued and you can use it immediately. The best news is that the NEXUS card is also accepted in place of your passport when travelling between Canada and the States.

Apply now for your Nexus card !

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