Is the Nexus Pass Worth it?

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After approximately 7 months of waiting, I have finally been approved for my Nexus pass.  I am just waiting to get the card with my mugshot on it and am just waiting to have my irises scanned (how fancy!).

What is the Nexus pass?  No, it's not a Google Android phone pass.  Actually most people who live in the United States probably don't know what this is unless they live near the border.

What is the Nexus Program?

Is the Nexus Pass Worth it?The Nexus Program is a program that unites the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the United States customs and Border Protection (US CBP) to allow simplification of border clearance for low risk travelers.  In addition, expedited clearance via air is also available, so you can just swoop through the airport next time you go to Las Vegas, of course.

The program costs $50 and membership lasts for five years.  After five years, you will need to renew again.  The program involves creating an online application (some of these questions are detailed!) and then checking your status for an interview date.  You are able to select your own date and time.  Then, you will be questioned by a U.S CBP officer and a CBSA offier who will then approve you.

What are the Benefits of the Nexus Program?

The benefits of the Nexus program mainly involve less time spent waiting in line ups at both the border crossing by land and also by air.  The decrease in time can be remarkable, aiming for a few minutes or even longer depending.  By air, I anticipate that it will take even shorter, therefore you might not have to line up for very long.

The other benefit to be a part of the Nexus program is telling everyone that you have a Nexus card.  It's so elite and part of this fancy “I have the Nexus Program card” club.

What are the Drawbacks of the Nexus Program?

Some of the drawbacks of the Nexus program includes not being able to use the program if you are traveling with people in your car who do not also have a Nexus program approval.  This means that despite spending $50 and waiting 7 months to get your card, you will not be able to use it because other people traveling with you are not using it.  It also means that you have a responsibility to be accountable and responsible with the use of the Nexus program, and you cannot smuggle drugs across the border or lie about whether or now you brought any alcohol within the last day or two.

So is the Nexus Program worth it?

Well, it is worth it if you go down to the United States often.  The luxury of not having to wait in a 1-2 hour line up cannot be overemphasized.  How “often” you go can mean a few times a year or every month.  It can be worth it if you tend to go to the United States to pick up packages delivered to the shipping office from places like Amazon.com or eBay.com, which is what I do.  For about $10 per year, you can save yourself the headache of lining up at the border.  Instead, you can whiz by, and get to your destination quicker than most and saving more of your precious time.

Also, they recently eliminated the need to fill out the form for declaration for goods when returning to Canada, so that is another major positive aspect of the Nexus program, not needing to fill out any forms.

For me, it is too soon to tell whether this program is any good or not, but judging from the feedback I have received from  people who are also Nexus pass holders most people have been happy with the changes.

I will definitely keep you all posted as to whether the Nexus program is working for me.

Readers, do you have the Nexus pass?  If so, what are your thoughts on it?

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Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

12 Comments

  1. Sandra K on August 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    This program is so much more than what you describe in this post! Here are a few added benefits I have used after 3 years of having a Nexus card:

    1) You can jump the line (rather, flash your card and go in the “crew, young children, persons requiring assistance and Nexus” line, at any Canadian airport with Nexus – even if you are flying domestically or internationally (ie. not to the USA).
    2) You can use the Nexus line at customs when arriving at any Canadian airport (with Nexus) even if you arrive from a country other than the USA. Last year I had a direct flight from Scotland to Toronto, I used the nexus line (or lack of line!) to re-enter canada hassle free. Take home message, you do not have to go via the USA to use this program.
    3) Membership with nexus automatically gives you membership to the US program “GOES” (Global Entry, regular cost $100/year). So if you are entering the USA via another country, you can skip the US customs line and go to the GOES machine, and sail right through! I flew from Mexico city to Ottawa via JFK last year, and I did not speak to a customs agent in JFK or in Ottawa – used GOES, then nexus and saved myself hours waiting in line at both locations.
    4) Membership in Nexus automatically enrolls you for eligibility for the US TSA preCheck – which is access to American airports expidited security lines. This is a program that randomly assigns you to the expidited line via the bar code on your boarding pass. So if you have a domestic USA flight, you may not have to take off your belt, your shoes etc.

    All in all, if you are a flyer, this pass is WELL worth it. Even for just a few trips a year. There are a ton of benefits and every time I get through a long line quickly, I do a little “happy” dance on the other side in thanks to my Nexus.



  2. Nick J on August 20, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    Like what Sandra said, Nexus is well worth it for the other benefits. I’m a frequent domestic traveller and don’t drive often to the US, but it is great to go to the fast line at the airport for domestic flights. For me it’s worth the $50 alone just to walk right past the 100 or so people in line and be able to get settled at the gate to wait for the flight. I don’t do a ‘happy’ dance, but it’s pretty close to it!

    In the city where I live, many transborder flights are grouped together, so there may be 6 or 7 flights going to the US at the same time, resulting in 100’s of people queuing for Customs preclearance. If you have the Nexus card, you can save standing in line for over an hour.

    I agree, if you are a flyer, get the Nexus pass!



  3. Lindsey @ Sense $ Sensibility on August 22, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Nexus sounds like a good investment if you travel enough. Right now, I cross the border maybe once every couple of years but I can see this being valuable once I have more free income to travel more. Sounds like it was worth the wait for you! Nicely done. 🙂



  4. geekymath on August 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    If you’re driving across the border, what do you do for declaring your goods?



  5. Young on September 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

    @Nick J- Thanks for your input Nick! I have yet to get my retina scanned but I’m excited so far with my Nexus!



  6. Young on September 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

    @Sandra- Thanks so much for your tips Sandra!!



  7. How to Apply for the Nexus Program on October 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    […] A few months ago, I deliberated as to whether the Nexus pass is worth it? […]



  8. Chris B on January 20, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    NEXUS is worth it for the TSA PreCheck privilege alone. It’s $100 for Global Entry that includes it, but if you happen to be close to the border you can do Nexus for $50 for the same and more benefits.



  9. PB on April 13, 2016 at 5:45 am

    I used my card for the first time and wasn’t impressed. The time I traveled, I mainly skipped 10 or 12 card which was the only benefit. Being a ‘trusted’ traveler does not mean you will get less scrutiny at the border by CBP when coming back to the US. In fact, I felt like popping over to Canada for lunch in a mall was so completely foreign to the CBP officer as to elicit a Nazi interrogation and hold you up forever. My first time over I was NOT impressed.



  10. sean on September 28, 2016 at 8:20 am

    first experience

    stupid
    line longer then regular line
    by the way the forms is still required its just electronic so actually slower
    oh and in calgary there is no speed line in security due to renovations
    waste of time and money



  11. Dave on November 14, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I dont get it
    The security regimen is the same for nexus or other travellers. Why all the forms and background checks to be a nexus member.
    Could just charge the money for access to shorter lines.
    Anyone??



  12. Kyle on November 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Dave, there is definitely some advantages and special lines at land borders.



  13. Peter on December 16, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Nexus has been a total waste of money for me. Went through all of the pre-screen process. My last border crossing the agent in the Nexus line sent me inside for secondary screening where they tore my life apart for 2.5 hours for no reason. So much for trusted traveler. The car line was not any shorter than any other lane. Maybe flying is different.



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