For US residents traveling frequently from international destinations, Global Entry can be a big help upon returning to the US, as it allows for expedited entry for pre-approved travelers. For US citizens and Canadians that travel between Canada and the US, NEXUS works in a similar manner, for arrival via airplane into Canada, and in pre-clearance for flights from Canada to the US. In addition, NEXUS card holders can get expedited clearance at the border when crossing via car or boat.
The application fee for Global Entry is $100, and NEXUS is $50. A NEXUS member can use Global Entry kiosks in airports that have them, mostly the main international airports, listed here.
I don’t do nearly as much international business travel as I used to, but every time I do, watching flight crew and Global Entry users just fly through without a queue has made me interested in this program. I have seen the same on trips to/from Canada. I have begun a lot more trips to Canada, and once I found out that the $50 fee for NEXUS would also work for GE, I decided to go forward with this. In addition, membership in one of these programs is a pre-requisite for the Trusted Traveler pilot program. Reese also posted about Delta’s program for expedited screening for frequent flyers.
US citizens must use the Global Online Enrollment System to apply for either NEXUS or GE. The application process is rather detailed, seeking information about travel, employment and residence going back 5 years. Once I applied, and paid the $50 NEXUS fee, it took about 4 weeks for my application to be conditionally approved.
After this, I then needed to get an appointment to be interviewed. Since I registered for NEXUS, I had to do this at a location near the Canadian border, or an airport in Canada. A list of enrollment centers is listed here. I had a business trip to Detroit recently, so I made an appointment there. I didn’t have much trouble finding a convenient time, but from what I have seen, some of the enrollment centers are rather close to capacity, so there may be a bit of a delay to get an interview. As noted, for NEXUS users via air, an iris scan is required, but this is only available at Canadian locations. Otherwise the NEXUS card can be used. I’ll just get an iris scan on my next trip to Canada. At my interview, I was told an appointment is not required for the eye scan, but I’ve seen some comments online that suggest otherwise. My next trip is to Montreal, and my French is non-existent, so I hope this won’t be a problem. Any readers have experience with this? Thanks to Arjun who commented below. I contacted the Montreal NEXUS office before my trip, and arranged for an iris scan appointment.
The actual interview process was relatively simple. It consisted of an 8 minute video followed by in interview with an agent. In my case, I met with a Canada Border Services Agency officer. He asked me various questions, primarily about my typical business in Canada, as well as questions about some of my travel history. One particular question I remember was, “I see you’ve been to Korea, that’s South Korea, right?”. (And yes, my passport stamps say The Republic of Korea, not DPRK). Honestly, the travel history questions seemed more to satisfy his curiosity than any sort of security matter. He provided me pamphlets and other info about NEXUS, and then some materials about GE, and walked me through using the GE kiosks. Finally, he put the GE sticker in my passport, and sent me on my way. Later that same day my GOES account showed approval, and then a link to my approval letter. There is a 1-2 week processing period before the NEXUS card will be sent to me. I should also receive a GE card via mail in the next few weeks.
My approval letter is below:
So for $50, some time filing the application, and some time at the interivew, then my eventual iris scan, I should be able to have a much simplified process for trips to/from Canada as well as return flights to the US from other destinations. I’m also hoping the Trusted Traveler pilot program expands, as I’m definitely game for any way to avoid hassles from TSA on US domestic flights.
This post is rather Canada-focused, so I encourage you to also see Nick’s excellent primer for the American traveler in Canada.
NOTE: I received my NEXUS card in the mail on the 3rd business day after my interview. I have to say, this whole process has been rather efficient, especially for dealing with a government agency. I did not receive a Global Entry card, but my NEXUS card works the same way, and I can access either type of kiosks.