Nexus vs. Passport Cards vs. Enhanced Driver’s License

11 May

Those are the three wallet-sized alternatives to carrying a passport with you when you want to make a quick jaunt across a bridge to shop at Sobey’s, grab some Duty Free, or make an IKEA run. Each option costs about the same, and each one requires the same basic paperwork as a passport – proof of citizenship and residency.

I opted for NEXUS.

The Passport card and EDL provide no added value for the extra money I have to pay for the mere wallet-sized convenience. NEXUS, however, does.

Imagine, if you will, it’s a warm summer’s evening, and you’re on the QEW coming back from Toronto. It’s a weekend, and about 500,000 other vehicles have the same idea as you. On days like that, the QE can be backed up for miles. All of the bridges have one-hour-plus waits.

With an EDL or Passport card, you’re in the same damn line as everyone else.

With a NEXUS pass, it’s as if you have your own private border crossing. In order to use the Whirlpool Bridge, you have to have NEXUS. No other proof of citizenship will work.

The process is a bit more involved, though. NEXUS is a “trusted traveler” program, and you have to undergo a background check and interview process before you get the card. The card is about $50 per adult, good for 5 years. Kids under 18 are free.

I sent in our paper applications about a month ago, and received a letter a week or so ago inviting me to set up an interview at a NEXUS office – there’s one in Fort Erie, ON and one in Niagara Falls, NY. The four of us will be interviewed, photographed, and fingerprinted, and our cards will be mailed to us within a couple of weeks.

Upon receipt, we’ll be able to use them at the dedicated (and always empty) NEXUS lanes at all local crossings, and we’ll have the ability to use the empty Whirlpool Bridge, this eliminating a massive inspection headache, especially during the peak tourist season.

I’ll do a post about what the interview process entails after we’ve gone through it.

15 Responses to “Nexus vs. Passport Cards vs. Enhanced Driver’s License”

  1. Adam K. May 11, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    You can’t use NEXUS lanes to bring IKEA into the country. Alcohol and <$100 in random small crap only.

  2. hank May 11, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    Charlotte’s IKEA opened about a month ago. They even named the exit off I-85 IKEA Rd. Didn’t cost anything, and they WANTED to come to Charlotte.

    Buffalo’s got a hell of a piece to go before tKEA even raises an eyebrow.

  3. Ike May 11, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

    IKEA is pure bullshit

    nobody who’s not living in a dorm should seriously be buying IKEA furniture…they other stuff is fine, but the furniture is a joke. It’s sawdust and glue and it gets destroyed in short order

  4. Buffalopundit May 12, 2009 at 5:05 am #

    I don’t really give two shits whether anyone else likes IKEA or thinks it’s shit or not. I like it and its products just fine.

    Adam’s right about the NEXUS rules – I wasn’t aware of them. So on bad traffic days, we’ll save the big shopping for another time. The NEXUS pass still doubles as proof of citizenship and can be used in a regular lane as a regular ID in that instance.

  5. Ward May 12, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    You seriously need to record the NEXUS interview with Maddie, and post it here.

  6. Jon Splett May 12, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    I find Ikea reprehensible because they’re dirty tax evading bastards.

  7. Mike In WNY May 12, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    The Passport card, obtained in conjunction with a regular Passport, is a mere (insert dripping sarcasm) $20.

  8. Mike May 12, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Hey, BP…IKEA is a joke and would fit right in on Transit Rd. I know how much you love Transit Rd!!! what a shameless waste of resources!!! Everyone should move from the burbs to the city! Amherst, Clarence and Orchard Park killed Buffalo and everyone should realize that!

  9. Mike In WNY May 12, 2009 at 11:15 am #

    @Mike, government killed Buffalo. Amherst, Clarence and Orchard Park are just some of the places people chose to take refuge.

  10. mike May 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Hey maybe you should consider riding a bike to Canada, its only 50 cent and you can ride past all the stopped cars to the front of the line. But I forgot, it may require a bit of effort and you may have to burn a calorie.
    @ hank do you have Big Lots there too? And did they change the street name for it?

  11. Paul May 12, 2009 at 3:04 pm #

    I have had nexus for around 6 years now. It is wonderful to go back and forth to Toronto via the Whirlpool Bridge. No wait at all. I However, have been stuck on the Peace Bridge during a Chertoff orange alert where the bridge was backed up so badly you couldn’t even get to the nexus lane.
    Be aware you can have no criminal record to qualify. No DWI, no teen aged bar fights, etc. They will automatically reject you.
    As for buying at IKEA, you are allowed to bring back what your normal exemption as a returning American resident is allowed. Just the same as a normal lane. The same with alcohol. Just remember to volunteer the info with inspector. I have done it dozens of times

  12. Paul May 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm #

    BTW, Your allowed exemption of $800 per month

  13. ChrisfromOP May 12, 2009 at 9:07 pm #

    And can someone tell me WHY we have to show ID at the border?

  14. PJ May 12, 2009 at 10:00 pm #

    How did a prefectly reasonable commentary about Nexus vs an EDL turn into a critique of Ikea? Talk about getting sidetracked by an inconsequential side referrence. Ikea Ike missed an opportunity to compare and contrast the quality of the bread at Sobeys and Wegmans.

  15. jennifer mcgladrey May 15, 2009 at 11:21 am #

    I don’t think it’s true what others said re: the $ amount you can bring into the United States from Canada on a day trip. As far as I know, for less than 48 hours, it’s $200 PER TRAVELER going back into the U.S.(yes, that includes the kids). And it doesn’t matter if it’s little, random things or big purchases. The amount of stuff you can bring back is, to my knowledge, the same in the NEXUS lanes as in the regular lanes. I regularly go across to IKEA across the border from me (the WA-BC border) and usually bring back somewhere in the vicinity of $200, but if I had my 2 kids with me, I could bring back 3 times that! And going into Canada, their rule is no single item can be worth more than $60 (or subject to duty). I am a Canadian living in the US, and make frequent border crossings, and I LOVE having NEXUS cards!

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