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Of Passports and Airport Crossings March 27, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Air Crossing, NEXUS Card, Passports, WHTI.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When crossing the border by air, you still want to bring your passport(s). Although the NEXUS card has the machine-readable ID text (including issuing country, etc.), airlines and security officials still want your passport instead.

The NEXUS card is listed as a “WHTI-Compliant Travel Document” on the US Department of State website. Although it was accepted at the Customs agent, when I presented it to the airline employee and the security officials insisted on seeing a passport. This might be standard due to airline policy/security policy/etc. that have not been updated to include NEXUS and other WHTI-compliant, Trusted Traveler cards.

Traveler beware: a trusted traveler card is all you are required to carry, at least by customs agents; however, it seems airlines and security officials aren’t quite on the same page. Don’t forget to take your passport with you when you travel.



1. kt - April 8, 2009

the rules of the nexus card say to carry your passport. Border officials drilled that ito me when I first got my card.

2. Carole Larochelle - September 26, 2010

Can you tell me, which passport do you show the airline or register with your ticket? If you purchase your ticket in Canada do you use your Canadian passport? If you purchase your ticket in the US do you use your US passport? I’m newly a dual citizen and understand what to do at customs, but don’t know exactly how to handle the airlines.

Thank you so much.

Matthew - September 27, 2010

You can always ask the airlines at the desk, but typically if you’re flying internationally, the passport data that they swipe will be used for the destination’s customs agents. So if you’re in Canada flying to the US, you’d use your US passport. If you’re in the US flying to Canada, you’d use your Canadian passport, even if you have a layover first.

That’s how Delta/Northwestern explained it to me, since basically what they do is send the list of passengers and their passport information to the destination country’s customs for their records.

If in doubt, it never hurts to ask.

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