Global Entry vs. NEXUS

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By David Em
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Global Entry and NEXUS are programs designed to make travel easier. Learn the differences between the two, and which one you should get.

View of airport security lines from the second floor.

Purpose of travel programs

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers several travel programs to make your time at the airport easier and faster.

To sign-up for a program, you must meet the requirements for eligibility, apply, and pay the application fee.

To be eligible, most of the programs require you to be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

After you apply, they’ll review your application, and schedule an in-person interview. If you’re accepted, you’ll have your membership for 5 years.

Becoming a member of the right Trusted Traveler Program for you is important because you’ll have access to expedited lines at the U.S. airports and when crossing international borders.

Global Entry

Global Entry logo.

Global Entry is a program by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that allows you to get expedited clearance when entering the U.S.

If you have Global Entry Membership, you can enter through automatic digital kiosks or going to a CBP officer for processing.

There’s still the possibility of getting pulled aside for further examination. In most cases, you’ll be able to quickly go through to baggage claim and exit.

Additionally, Global Entry comes with TSA PreCheck, which expedites security screening for flights departing from U.S. airports.

To become a member, you must apply. However, there are limitations to eligibility. You must be a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or a citizen of one of the following countries (Source: CBP):

  • Argentina
  • Colombia
  • Germany
  • India
  • Mexican nationals
  • Panama
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

Once you apply and pay the $100 application fee, you’ll receive a confirmation. If you’re conditionally approved, the next step is to set-up an in-person interview at one of the Global Entry Enrollment Centers.

If you’re conditionally approved, you can also use the Enrollment on Arrival (EoA) program.

It eliminates the requirement to schedule an interview, and instead, you complete the interview upon arrival into the United States.

To do this, you’ll need your passport, a document to prove your address, and a permanent resident card, if applicable.

If you schedule a time for the interview, be sure to bring your valid passport and one other form of identification, such as a driver’s license or ID card.

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you need your machine-readable permanent resident card.

Once you get the final approval, you’ll receive your Global Entry card in the mail.

If you aren’t approved, the following are reasons that your Global Entry application may be denied:

  • False or incomplete information on the application.
  • Convicted of a criminal offense, pending criminal charges, or outstanding warrants.
  • Found in violation of any customs, immigration, or agriculture regulations or laws.
  • The subject of an investigation by any law enforcement agency.
  • Unable to prove that you’re low-risk.

Overall, Global Entry is an excellent program that you need to take advantage of if you currently or plan to travel domestically and internationally several times a year.

NEXUS

NEXUS logo.

The NEXUS program is similar to Global Entry. Instead of expedited processing when entering the United States, you’ll also receive it for entering Canada.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) have partnered to create a program that makes it easier for you to cross the border.

As a NEXUS member, you can use dedicated processing lanes at designated northern border ports of entry, NEXUS kiosks, and Global Entry kiosks. You’ll also receive expedited processing at marine reporting locations.

Like Global Entry, it comes with TSA PreCheck, which expedites security screening for flights departing from U.S. airports.

If you’re approved to participate in the program, you’ll get a radio frequency identification card to use when you enter the U.S. or Canada.

Before you apply, make sure you’re eligible. The requirements are as follows:

  • U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Canadian citizen or lawful permanent resident.
  • Mexican nationals who are members of Mexico’s trusted traveler program.
  • Viajero Confiable.

Additionally, it’s important to understand that the U.S. and Canada must approve the application, not just one.

Once you apply and pay the $50 application fee, you’ll receive a confirmation. If you’re conditionally approved, schedule an interview at a NEXUS Enrollment Center. If that’s approved, you must have your iris captured to use the NEXUS kiosks to enter Canada.

If you aren’t approved, the following are potential reasons:

  • False or incomplete information on the application.
  • Convicted of a criminal offense, pending criminal charges, or outstanding warrants.
  • Found in violation of any customs, immigration, or agriculture regulations or laws.
  • The subject of an investigation by any law enforcement agency.
  • Inadmissible to the U.S. under immigration regulation.
  • Can’t satisfy CBP or CBSA low-risk requirements.

NEXUS is a beneficial program because you can avoid long wait times at border entry points.

Which is better?

If you only travel between the U.S. and Canada, then the NEXUS program is the best option for you. The application fee is also half of the price.

However, if you live in the U.S. and travel around the world, Global Entry is right for you. The Global Entry application fee is also reimbursable by many travel rewards credit cards, whereas NEXUS isn’t.

Additionally, it’s easier to find a Global Entry Enrollment Center in the U.S than a NEXUS Enrollment Center.

Conclusion

The first step to choosing the right Trusted Traveler Program is to figure out what type of travel you’d like to do. Overall, Global Entry is a better choice. However, both options come with TSA PreCheck, which saves you time when you depart from U.S. airports.

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Featured image courtesy of Unsplash.

Portrait of David Em.

About David Em

David Em is the founder of Nola & Luna Travel, the destination for travel advice and inspiration. He launched Nola & Luna Travel to share expert advice, useful tips, unbiased reviews, and inspiration about destinations across the globe.