If you travel internationally, you may find yourself researching programs that might make security or customs easier. There are a range of programs that expedite security processes in different ways, and the best one for you will depend on your travel habits. If you travel from the U.S. to Canada often (or vice versa), you may find yourself wondering about NEXUS vs. TSA PreCheck.
What is NEXUS?
NEXUS is a joint program between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency to expedite border crossings between the two countries. NEXUS members are pre-screened and determined to be low-risk travelers. NEXUS can be used in multiple ways:
- At dedicated lanes at designated border ports of entry
- At NEXUS kiosks when entering Canada by air
- At Global Entry kiosks when entering the United States via Canadian pre-clearance airports
- At marine reporting locations
At these locations, you're able to bypass the regular security lines for a NEXUS-designated one. These dedicated lines are generally shorter and faster.
Travelers who are eligible to apply for NEXUS include:
- U.S. citizens
- U.S. lawful permanent residents
- Canadian citizens
- Canadian lawful permanent residents
- Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico's trusted traveler program, Viajero Confiable
If you're under the age of 18, you can still apply but must have your legal guardian's consent.
Factors for potential denial of membership
There is a range of criteria that may result in denial of membership. These include:
- False or incomplete application
- Criminal convictions, pending criminal charges or outstanding warrants
- Past violations of any customs, immigration or agricultural regulations or laws in any country
- Being the subject of an ongoing investigation by any federal, state or local law enforcement agency
- Previous denial of purchase of a firearm
- Receival of a criminal pardon in any country
- Unable to satisfy Canadian Border Services Agency's low-risk requirements
As of April 2023, a NEXUS card costs $50 for a five-year membership. Note that there are some travel credit cards on the market, such as Chase Sapphire Reserve®, that may reimburse the cost of NEXUS.
If you do have a card with this benefit, the good news is that eligibility for reimbursement usually resets every four years, meaning you may be able to take advantage of this benefit each time your NEXUS membership comes up for renewal.
NEXUS and TSA PreCheck differences
When it comes to TSA PreCheck vs. NEXUS, one of the biggest differences is where you can use them. TSA PreCheck is specifically designed to be used in U.S. airports to expedite the security screening process. NEXUS, however, can be used for land, air and marine travel between the U.S. and Canada. If you live in one of the northern border states and want to drive to Canada rather than fly, you may find NEXUS is a better fit for you.
Another difference is the cost. If you're comparing NEXUS to TSA PreCheck, you'll find that NEXUS costs less. TSA PreCheck is currently $78, while NEXUS is currently $50 (as of April 2023).
Using NEXUS for TSA PreCheck
While NEXUS might seem limiting due to its focus on Canada, it grants members access to TSA PreCheck lines in U.S. airports as well. When booking flights, you can enter your PASS ID number from your NEXUS card into the Known Traveler Number field. This will allow you to use the TSA PreCheck line when you arrive at the airport, as long as your airport and airline both use it.
If you have a NEXUS membership, you can also use the Global Entry kiosks at participating airports for no additional cost. It is required that you first provide fingerprints and document information on file with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Note that your NEXUS membership card can be used at the Global Entry kiosks in Canada preclearance locations only — at other locations, you will need to use your passport or U.S. lawful permanent resident card.
NEXUS is a versatile program that can offer travelers access to TSA PreCheck lines, Global Entry kiosks, and expedited security lines when crossing the Canadian border by land, air or marine travel. If you're comparing NEXUS vs. TSA PreCheck, it may come down to cost and travel habits when deciding what's right for you.