UPDATE February 20: Here’s an email I received from NEXUS… apparently now you can even use your card as your ID when going through “normal people lanes”! Even better!!! Here’s the email:
“Please be advised that citizens of the United States and Canada may now use their NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) cards as proof of identification and citizenship at all land border lanes and seaport locations (not just the NEXUS/FAST lanes) when entering the United States or Canada.”
Why don’t you have your nexus yet? Seriously.
Since its creation, I have been this program’s biggest supporter: a card that lets you skip the border line… for the next five years… for 50$ TOTAL??? What’s the catch? The hidden fees? The promise of a first-born child? There simply are none; you need this little card, and for more reasons than you may think!
As of about 4 months ago, I’ve been flying through the border and customs area at the airport without drama or hesitation and it’s all thanks to Nexus. Originally informed about this program by my parents of all people, I was urged to just “get my application in and enjoy the benefits later.” At the time, Nexus was still quite unknown and most people thought it a new brand of luxury car… thank FRIG I was a good boy and did as my parents told me, because I’ve been reaping the benefits nearly every other weekend since. While I likely travel to the States more than the typical Canadian on here- I’m on a gay Seattle soccer team and am down there every other weekend to practice and play- I would still be writing this praise-ridden article had I used the Nexus even just once to avoid that nightmare border lineup we’ve all become necessarily accustomed to!
Let’s get down to brass tacks…
WHAT IS NEXUS?
Nexus is a program that allows approved members to use a separate line at the US/Canadian (going both ways) border and at the airport customs. It is a card you carry with you as you travel that you show at the “Nexus Booth” to enable an extremely expedited questioning by the border patrol officers… To put it in context, there’s been times I didn’t even get my car to a full stop at the border before hearing “Have a great trip sir!”
WHO CAN GET NEXUS?
Essentially, any Canadian or American resident. While there are limitations based on your “criminal record” or “attempted abuse of the border crossing process”… basically, unless you murdered a bald eagle in Lummi Island and hid firecrackers in its body as you tried to cross back into Canada… AND got caught trying to do so, you’re in!
WHAT DOES NEXUS COST?
The processing fee is 50$ and lasts for 5 years… seriously, why are you still reading this article? GET IT NOW!
WHAT DOES THE NEXUS APPLICATION ENTAIL?
Originally- for us non jonny-come-latelys out there- there was a bit of a hassle that entailed describing every detail about the car(s) you intended to drive with across the border, but they’ve done away with that and all you really need is to fill out the online application concerning your past few years of employment and residence and you’re good to go! After the application is received, you’re asked to visit an online calender and make an appointment to visit either their downtown location or the airport (this is for BC residents, each state and province has their own home office!) to interview with the Canadian AND American border officers. The calender USE to be booked up for about a month+ in advance, but recently our own Topher
got his appointment two weeks after he submitted his application! The interview is easy enough: they’ll ask why you want it (feel free to site me as your referring source, I get a huge payout for each new member I send there way…… ;) and they’ll make sure you don’t plan on using the program to smuggle drugs… tough stuff eh? Also, while there, you’ll get your finger prints taken and a retinal scan that allows you to use automated kiosks at the airport while traveling so you don’t even have to talk to a single customs officer if you don’t want to… how perfect can this thing be, eh?
ARE THERE ANY PROBLEMS WITH NEXUS?
The only slight qualm I have with this programs is people like me…! As I write this article, I’m cringing thinking that I might ACTUALLY affect a reader out there and prompt him/her to get this pass which means one more person in front of me in that oh-so elite Nexus line up hahaha. Thankfully, I’ve never seen anyone talk to a border officer for more than 30 seconds… EVER! Can you imagine that? A border lineup that spends on average 15 seconds with each driver…? It’s amazeballs.
Another “issue” with the Nexus program is that everyone in the car must have Nexus to use the Nexus lane. You can’t have the driver and two passengers all Nexused up and some random “less-than” friend in the backseat with just a plain ol’ passport in their hands… So far, 4 members of Homorazzi have their Nexus- those would be the four members you’ll see flying by you in the Nexus lane come Portland pride… they’ll be easy to recognize as you hit hour 2 in your stuck car and they drive by, music blaring and feet stickin’ out the window ;) We HAVE heard rumours that people drive and let out said “un-Nexused” members at the walk-through passenger part of the border while the rest drive through, but I won’t substantiate such talk out of respect for my Nexus ;)
Finally, while this doesn’t bother me at all, some people balk at the notion of having their fingerprints and retinal scans on file… *cough*dave*cough*. Honestly though, what do you plan on doing while across the border that your fingerprints are going to come into play and pose a threat to you? Yes, Nick is going to have an easier time identifying you when you perform that double murder in Vegas this summer, but still, the border lines are unbearable so I say worth it. [Yes, there were MUCH more recognizable CSI characters I could have referenced there, but that singing cowboy is basically my dream man, so I had to give a shout out... this article can't be all fact and no fun!].
ANY OTHER BENEFITS TO NEXUS I DON’T KNOW ABOUT AND THAT THEY DON’T ADVERTISE ON THE SITE?
EXCELLENT QUESTION! ;) My absolute favourite part of this entire program is the assigned parking at the Duty Free for Nexus card holders. To preface this, I personally only use the Truck Crossing (for no particular reason), so I can only speak about the Duty Free there. When you arrive at the Duty Free these days, you’ll see a kindly old man (9 times out of 10) waving you in towards the packed parking lot saying: “You might not want to get Duty Free today, the lineup getting out of here is huge”… THEN, you show him your Nexus card and his entire demeanour changes: “Oh, Nexus? Right this way!” Immediately, you’re allowed to park RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING… I kid you not, the Nexus parking is closer than the handicapped parking! You stroll out of your car and everyone’s eyes are instantly drawn to you as they look for a wheelchair or seeing eye-dog to follow you out of your front seat and then they see the big “NEXUS PARKING RESERVED” sign next to you. Admittedly, it’s a bit look-at-me, but hey, that’s secretly why lots of us got this pass to begin with! The best is still to come as you drive out of the packed Duty Free lot (we’ve all seen the row upon row of lineup up cars with bored drivers suntanning on their stationary vehicles, waiting to finally be let back into the line after hoping buying a bottle of cheap vodka would get them past that interminably long border line down the stretch of the highway…). Well, now, you get to stroll past them all as they stare at you being waved directly and immediately back into the Nexus border line. Literally, leaving the Duty Free, one of the attendants will open a path for you through the “normies” who had been waiting there for hours… Now you REALLY want one… don’t you?
WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
Click here for their website and follow the directions on the page.
I can’t stress how much time this little card has saved me- even heading home from Cali recently, I skipped that rat-maze of a customs line at the airport and let the kiosk zap my eyes as I breezed through without a word and without that lovely: “Bonjour, hello, what was the purpose of your trip?” conversation that oh so often leads to a line of questioning that even Angela Landsbury wouldn’t put her suspect through.
Nexus, I love you, and if I even convince one reader to go for it, I’ll consider my job done here. If I’m not willing to line up at the Odyssey, why the hell would I do it at the border to BLAINE? ;)