NEXUS and Global Entry Application process


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. 

Nexus logo

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.  


Arjun September 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

two things: 1. you dont receive a GE card. the GE is just the sticker on your passport. 2. Right now, the only place you can do IRIS scans without an appointment is Toronto Pearson. Be careful about which Canadian offices have IRIS - as not all nexus locations have iris scanning, they only have the interview. I would call the location before you go to confirm. I just went through the process, and flying to Toronto on Saturday to meet up with family, and planning to do the iris scan there.

Brad September 6, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Thanks Arjun.

According to this page on the CBP website, GE cards are now being issued:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin issuing Global Entry radio frequency identification (RFID) cards on July 12, 2011 to qualified U.S. citizens, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) and Mexican citizens (not already in possession of a SENTRI card) who are approved for membership in Global Entry. There is no additional cost for the RFID card as it will be included in the application fee. Global Entry members who were approved for the program prior to July 12, 2011 and wish to obtain a RFID card may request one via their Global Online Enrollment System (GOES) account for a $15 fee.

Global Entry cards are Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative compliant documents for land and sea travel. Additionally, these cards will be valid for use at the SENTRI and NEXUS lanes coming into the United States. However, Global Entry cards will not be valid for entry into Canada via the NEXUS lanes and kiosks; and members must use a passport or U.S. LPR card at the Global Entry kiosks. Please note that as of the above date, members can use any CBP issued Trusted Traveler Program card when traveling inbound into the United States via the SENTRI or NEXUS lanes.

Thanks a lot for the info regarding Iris scans. I got a list of where to go when I interviewed. I guess I'll call Montreal and hope for availability to get in while I'm there.

BrewerSEA September 7, 2011 at 02:43 pm

For what it's worth, I did my iris scan in YVR without an appointment back in January. Perhaps the rules have changed since then.

Clarence October 11, 2012 at 03:11 pm

If I am approved for GE, am I allowed to use the NEXUS line? Thanks.

@Clarence: Unless you are also a NEXUS member, you will not be able to use the NEXUS lane. If you want to apply, it's an additional $50 fee to add NEXUS to your GE membership.

Brad October 12, 2012 at 02:56 am

@Clarence. No, NEXUS is seperate from GE in that while a NEXUS card allows GE access, the reverse is not true. NEXUS requires additional approvals including an iris scan at a Canadian port of entry.