You’ve got an amazing roadtrip planned to cross from the U.S. into Canada.
You pull up to the border control line, but you can’t even see the actual border because the line is atrociously long.
You wait. Two hours go by. Then four. Then ten.
Soon enough, you die in your car of starvation, all because you had to wait in that freaking line.
That scenario isn’t exaggerated in the slightest. But today, I’m going to tell you about how you can avoid this unfortunate scenario altogether.
I’m talking about NEXUS.
This is the Trusted Traveler program I personally chose to sign up for, and the one that I completed last week after a year and a half of waiting. You Canadians are going to want to listen up here.
NEXUS is a joint program between the U.S. and Canadian governments and is a great travel perk for Canadians in general, or Americans who frequently travel to or transit through Canada.
NEXUS is pretty much like Global Entry but also works when entering Canada. You apply the same way you do for Global Entry, through the U.S. government’s dedicated website.
Once you’ve been conditionally approved, you must visit a Nexus enrollment center located at various U.S./Canada borders.
The main difference from other Trusted Traveler programs’ interview processes is that both Canadian and American immigration officials must be present for the interview, hence the enrollment centers being at border crossings.
Once you get approved, however, you’ll have all of the perks of Nexus, along with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck®, also included with Nexus.
The strange part about this is that it costs $50, which is less than either of the other two programs, even though it includes the perks of the other Trusted Traveler programs…
My guess is that the Canadian government subsidizes much of the cost (yay socialism!).
Rather than recommend a specific card, I’ll just tell you that we have an entire page dedicated to cards that offer you a NEXUS reimbursement credit to get your application covered FOR FREE.
That means that you could sign up for a $95 card, apply for NEXUS for yourself and a buddy (for $50 each), and get reimbursed the full $100, effectively canceling out that annual fee. It’s awesome.
The best part is that these Trusted Traveler programs are valid for five years before your membership needs to be renewed.
Here is a simple chart that shows each program, enrollment fees, and processing times.
What to Know When Enrolling in a Trusted Traveler Program
Two final points that I want you to be aware of:
Appointments for Global Entry and NEXUS are scarce these days, especially in the bigger cities.
Be careful which enrollment center you decide to visit.
Let me explain that last point…
As I mentioned, I recently flew to Detroit to complete my interview for Nexus, despite the fact that there are five or six enrollment centers located closer to me.
Detroit was the closest place I could get an appointment in the next six months, so I went pretty far out of my way. In my mind, it was worth the effort, given how often I travel.
What I didn’t realize is how painful the process would be…
Not only was my Uber driver freaked out that he was going to accidentally drive into Canada, but the Detroit border is very congested and complicated, and finding my way there was confusing and stressful.
If I could do it again, I would choose an enrollment center located in a smaller town. For example, Sault St. Marie (Michigan/Ontario border) has lots of appointments open.
The area is pretty small and the border is much easier to navigate. There are similar small towns dotted around the country where you can simply walk on foot to the enrollment center and not have to worry about navigating busy border crossings. So, yeah. You’ve been warned.
Final Thoughts on Trusted Traveler Programs
Enrolling in one of these Trusted Traveler programs obviously has many benefits for the avid traveler. If you fly domestically the majority of the time, TSA PreCheck is going to be your best buddy.
Flying internationally? Global Entry is a solid option. But if you’re also crossing into Canada often, why not go for NEXUS and get the additional perks? Thanks, Canada!
Plus, and perhaps best of all, you can enroll in any of these programs for free if you simply have a credit card that offers a credit to do so.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the terms and programs you’ve maybe heard about but haven’t delved into.
Which program will you choose??