Travelling seems to be coming back into full swing, and I am really grateful I renewed my NEXUS card before it expired. I am told the backlog in obtaining cards is horrendous.
For those unfamiliar with the NEXUS program, it is a joint Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection initiative. It is an expedited border control program designed for pre-approved, low-risk travellers. Members of the program can avoid long waits at border entry points by using reserved lanes at land crossings into Canada, Mexico and the United States, by using self-serve kiosks at airports in Canada, the U.S. and many international locations, or by phoning border officials for a marine entry.
Many people think of travelling as heading to the airport and hopping on a flight, but one of the most agonizing elements of trekking, is crossing the border by car. This is where NEXUS has an amazing edge.
First of all, most people are not aware the Whirlpool Bridge, at Niagara Falls, is a NEXUS-only crossing point. That means you simply scan your card and chat with an agent for a few seconds. I used it recently, and it took less than three minutes to drive across and enter Canada.
There is seldom a line-up; however, it is important to note the bridges operated by Parks Canada (Whirlpool included), have a crossing fee of $6.50 (regardless of whether you are using NEXUS or not). This is a small price to pay for sometimes saving hours of wait times. They even allow you to link your NEXUS card to Parks Canada, and the bill simply comes to you by email.
Of course, travelling internationally by plane is so much easier with NEXUS. There is a separate, fast-track line to security, but more important, when you arrive, you take the fast lane and usually clear customs before your luggage arrives downstairs.
I have used NEXUS at airports in Iceland, the U.K., and of course, the U.S. I understand it is now recognized in 40 countries. Travelling is challenging enough as it is, with longer wait times and slower processes. A NEXUS Membership is $50 every five years, but for me, it is well worth the spend.
NEXUS cards are valid documents which can be used in place of a passport, including by air if flying between the U.S. and Canada. However, carrying a valid passport is still recommended, in the rare event a flight is diverted to an airport without NEXUS support.
If you have a Nexus card, make sure you go through the renewal process. It took me about four months, and I was about to call when miraculously, my card showed up in the mail.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.