We recently completed applying for Nexus with kids! This was one of those things we’ve wanted to do for years, but never got around to. Paperwork can be daunting, especially government paperwork! However, the process was very simple and straight forward and I’m kicking myself for not doing it earlier.
What is Nexus?
Here’s a quote from the official CBSA website:
“NEXUS is a bi-national, Canada-United States program for pre-approved, low-risk travellers entering Canada or the United States (U.S.) at designated air, land and marine ports of entry.
The program enables its members to enter either country more quickly and easily by using automated self-serve kiosks in the air mode of travel, dedicated lanes in the land mode of travel, and by calling Telephone Reporting Centres (TRCs) prior to arrival in the marine mode of travel.”
In short, it allows you to bypass certain security checks at airports and land/water crossings. You’ll be given access to special Pre-Check and Nexus lanes when traveling. They can do this because you’ve had an extensive background check and met with CBSA officers in person.
How long does it take to get Nexus with kids?
Five years back, applying for Nexus could take you six months to a year. For us, it was one month start to finish. Because minors are free, it was also relatively cheap. It cost my husband and I $50.00 USD each to apply online.
It took me approximately 1.5 hours to fill out five Nexus applications. Each member of your party will require their own email address and will be assigned their own account. You’ll be asked about previous known addresses, criminal records, and places of employment. You’ll need copies of your birth certificate, passport, drivers license, and possibly your care card.
Once your application is conditionally approved, you’ll need to schedule an interview for each applicant (minors require parents to attend.) Aim to book everyone as closely together as possible and then call the office as they will still see you all together. Bring all of your paperwork and documents!
What’s the interview like for getting Nexus with kids?
The interview was way less intimidating than I thought it’d be. I imagined each of us going into a private room and being drilled with questions. In reality, we went to a nice building that was very organized and low key. We waited half an hour past our appointment time, so bring some form of entertainment for your littles.
Our family was called up to a kiosk by two agents (one American, one Canadian) and asked questions that we’d already answered on our application.
They took photos of each of the kids and verified their birth dates and address with us parents. Then my husband and I were fingerprinted and photographed and read the Nexus rules and how to use it. Misusing your Nexus is considered very serious and will result in your entire family’s privileges being revoked.
If you have have any kind of criminal record, or have been caught with drugs, you will not be able to get Nexus.
What about that Iris scan?
Having your iris scanned is a requirement for those traveling internationally by air only. You do not need this for driving across the border or flying domestic. The iris scan is not done at the same office as your interview and you will need your Nexus cards in-hand to have it done.
Because our kids are all under 6, they do not require the iris scan. They’re too short for the scanning machines. When my husband and I go for our scan, the kids will be given a decal for their Nexus cards which exempts them from the requirement. As long as they are traveling with us, they’re still able to go through the Nexus line without having their iris’ scanned.
Can we use TSA Pre-Check with our Nexus cards?
You sure can! However, you cannot simply wave your Nexus card at security and expect to be allowed through. You’ll need to use that 9-digit number on the back of your card when booking or checking-in for a flight. That number will approve you for TSA Pre-Check and appears on your boarding pass.
You can expect your new Nexus card to arrive within 7-10 days. For us, that means we’ll be using it on our trip next month!
We found everyone to be very helpful and kind throughout. They joked with the kids and understood how hard it was for them to sit still while they talked to us. My only complaint is that we waited this long to do it!
If you have any other specific questions, head over to the CBSA website for a list of facts.