On October 25, 2019, the Canada Border Services Agency (“CBSA”) announced that they were modernizing NEXUS kiosks across Canada, starting with Vancouver airport, to use facial recognition technology.  Hidden in the announcement is the following significant NEXUS Program rule change:

“It is also important to note that declarations will not be completed at the new kiosks. If you have something to declare you must do so verbally, to an officer, at a clearly marked area in the customs hall after using the kiosk.”

Since this announcement had been sent to all NEXUS members with an email address, the CBSA is likely to enforce the rule change immediately – that is now.

What this means that if you purchased, acquired or received anything, anything at all, NEXUS members MUST go to a CBSA officer and declare the item.  If you took the coffee or soaps from your hotel room, you must now see a CBSA Officer.  If you purchased goods valued at less than the personal exemption limit, you must go and speak to a CBSA Officer. If you have tobacco or alcohol within your personal exemption limit, you must go and speak to a CBSA Officer.  If you received a complimentary item at a conference you attended (even a single pen or pad of paper on which you wrote your notes), you must go and speak to a CBSA Officer.  If you have food, you must go any speak to a CBSA Officer. According to the CBSA, if you have any prescription medications, you must go and speak to a CBSA Officer.  If you have unaccompanied goods, you have to go and speak to a CBSA Officer. Essentially, only travelers who acquired nothing outside Canada (and who do not normally carry food or prescription medications) will not have to speak with a CBSA Officer.

Simply put, this NEXUS Program rule change guts the benefits of the NEXUS Program.  The NEXUS line-ups will likely become very long.  Every diabetic will have to report their insulin.  Every senior will have to report their prescription medications (regardless of whether the medications were acquired in Canada). Every traveler who acquired anything will have to speak with a CBSA Officer.

If you do not stop to speak with a CBSA Officer, then if you are sent to the Secondary Inspection Area and anything is located that should have been declared, you will be fined and you will lose your NEXUS Card.

This is a crazy change to the NEXUS Program and NEXUS members should seriously consider using their NEXUS Card only for airport security screening purposes.  It might be best to use the non-NEXUS lane when returning to Canada and the lanes may move more quickly than the NEXUS lane.

We have seen many cases where the CBSA has taken enforcement action against NEXUS travelers who were within their personal exemption limit, but had acquired something.  Often, the NEXUS traveler did not have an exact calculation because they thought it was not necessary when answering the “YES/NO” question at the NEXUS kiosk.  As a result of the NEXUS Program rule change that has been announced, the CBSA will be looking out for NEXUS travelers and NEXUS travelers should organize all of their receipts and allocate values to the complimentary items and gifts.

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or at Cyndee@LexSage.com.  We have posted a number of articles about NEXUS on the LexSage website.