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Starting tomorrow, think of Canada as a foreign country : The Buffalo News May 31, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Border Crossings, Canada, Land Crossing, NEXUS Card, Passports, USA, WHTI.
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As this article from the Buffalo News reminds us, on June 1, 2009, 12:01 AM, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative takes effect.

As the FARK.com headline for the article notes: “This just in: Canada is not part of the United States. Who knew?”

Needless to say, the line-ups to apply for a NEXUS card is likely quite long at this point, as well as the line-ups for passports on both sides of the border.


Of Passports and Airport Crossings March 27, 2009

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

Crossing Borders March 12, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Canada, Citizenship, NEXUS Card, Passports, USA.
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When crossing borders as a dual citizen, remember that the USA sees you as an American, and Canada sees you as Canadian, so it seems wisest to present your passports as such.

US Department of State has this to say about entering and leaving the USA:

Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country. Use of the foreign passport does not endanger U.S. citizenship.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada says:

The Canadian government strongly encourages you to use your Canadian passport when travelling abroad, especially when entering the country of your second citizenship.   … Using your Canadian passport may provide the basis under which Canada can provide you with consular assistance if you run into difficulties. You should also obtain a visa, if that is required for entry by Canadian citizens, and always present yourself as a Canadian when dealing with local authorities.

As far as ease of travel goes, it’s most definitely easier to present your US passport to US officials and Canadian passport to Canadian officials… Less confusion that way. (Of course, the NEXUS card alleviates all the hassle, since you declare both citizenships in the NEXUS application) (more…)

New NEXUS Cards Issued March 8, 2009

Posted by Matthew in NEXUS Card.
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I recently received a new NEXUS card in the mail. It looks a little less like it was printed with an off-the-shelf card printer and a more like the watermarked, foil-imprinted government ID card you’d expect.

A sample of the new NEXUS card from the Canada Border Services Agency.

A sample of the new NEXUS card from the Canada Border Services Agency.

The domain they send you to activate it in the accompanying letter is a secure website: https://goes-app… (note the ‘S’ after http). Force of habit led me to look right past the S, and type in http://goes-app… I sat there wondering why the page wasn’t loading.  With a quick check later, I realized my mistake. Once on the site, the card can be activated without even logging in; All you are required to do is enter two numbers that are found on the back of the card.

New security features:

  1. Black and white picture, interleaved with color background
  2. Color-changing “North America” foil seal on the top right
  3. Multicolor “Plane, Car, Boat” reflective overlay
  4. RFID-blocking cover (see below)

Even more fun? It came with a copper-lined shield (packaged along side it) to keep it in when not in use. This is the kind of thing that I hope the new RFID credit cards come with. That, or I guess I could always make an RFID-blocking wallet.

This raises some interesting questions: (Yes, it’s tin-foil hat time…) (more…)

NEXUS and Dual Citizenship March 8, 2009

Posted by Matthew in Citizenship, NEXUS Card.
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NEXUS has allowances in the application process to show that you are a national of more than one country. Having a passport from both the US and Canada speeds things up.

Here is my recollection of the events on the day I got my NEXUS card:

After being pre-cleared for my NEXUS card, I scheduled an interview, and went to the local NEXUS office to finish my application. The two men manning the office: one CBSA (Canada) and one CBP (US). They were both great guys, and I can say that the experience was almost enjoyable. (more…)