Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Fail to Declare Goods at the Canadian Border - Lose Your NEXUS Pass

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is taking a hard line with Canadians who do not make complete and truthful accounting of the goods acquired or received while outside Canada. If you are a NEXUS pass holder and you breach a provision of the Customs Act, the CBSA will send you a letter and will revoke your NEXUS privileges (that means you can no longer use the NEXUS lane). For some business travelers, truckers and frequent travelers to the United States, this will result in significant time delays and affect your ability to do your work.

The reasons that the CBSA may give for revoking/cancelling NEXUS privileges include:

  • You have violated one or more rules of the program (e.g. you cannot use the NEXUS lane if any person in your vehicle does not hold a NEXUS card, you do not have your NEXUS card with you at the time you used a NEXUS lane);
  • You are not admissible to Canada under Canadian immigration laws;
  • You have violated customs laws (e.g., you failed to declare goods, you undervalued goods, you did not answer a CBSA officer's questions truthfully, possession of offensive materials, etc.);
  • You have violated immigration laws;
  • You have been convicted of a criminal offence for which you did not receive a pardon (think about possession of drugs, possession of child pornography, tax evasion, etc.); or
  • Information on your application or at the enrolment interview has been found to be false, inaccurate or incomplete.

Over the Christmas holidays, we have spoken with a number of individuals who received letters from the CBSA regarding the cancellation of their NEXUS privileges for (1) failure to declare a Rolex watch, (2) failure to declare foods, (3) failure to declare one of three boxes, (4) failure to answer questions truthfully, (5) checking off the box that exemption limits were not exceeded when the individual purchase 2 bottles of alcohol, and (6) possession of a single marijuana cigarette in a jacket pocket. Needless to say, all would have behaved differently if they had known that the CBSA would cancel their NEXUS privileges.

In all cases, the individual was informed that they had an opportunity to submit a request for reconsideration in writing within 30 days. In some cases, the facts were better than others. In some cases, it would be worthwhile to write a letter seeking reinstatement of the NEXUS privileges - others, there is no chance of success.

The morale of the story is to be careful when crossing the border. Your NEXUS privileges are at risk even if you do not use the NEXUS lane. If you need your NEXUS pass for business, be extra diligent when engaging in personal travel. Do not risk your NEXUS pass for the sake of saving a few dollars in GST/HST/duties.

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