Lately, a number of clients have called with incident reports involving either the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) confiscating NEXUS passes from business travelers because the traveler had commercial goods in the NEXUS line/lane. In all cases, the business traveler properly declared the value of the goods and/or their possession of the goods. The infraction was being in the wrong line/lane with their commercial goods.
The CBSA and USCBP remind the business traveler of a short statement in the brochures (NEXUS Membership Guide) about NEXUS privileges that travelers cannot use the NEXUS lane when they have commercial goods. The instructions state:
"If you have any commercial goods in your possession or baggage or on board the vehicle/recreational boat upon arrival in Canada or the United States, you may not use NEXUS in the air, land or marine modes of transportation. Commercial goods are defined as goods brought into Canada or the United States for sale or for any commercial, industrial, occupational, institutional or other similar use and include samples, tools and warranty repair parts."
Personal computers and similar items carried by NEXUS members for their own personal use while on business trips are not considered commercial goods."
One business traveler had a sample of a ware in his briefcase and informed the border officer. One business traveler in the jewelry business returned to Canada with a piece of jewelry and inputted information in the automated kiosk the value of that item. One business traveler purchased business cards overseas (with certain information translated). One business traveler was returning to Canada with banners used in a trade show in the United States. One business traveler was going to a convention in the United States with a box of brochures. All these business travelers had their NEXUS cards confiscated.
I have heard from individuals whose NEXUS cards were confiscated at the border crossing. Some received a letter from the NEXUS program and some do not. Other individuals do not have their NEXUS cards taken at the border and receive a warning letter in the mail. The use of discretion is sometimes at zero tolerance and is sometimes a little more flexible.
Business travelers must be careful because their NEXUS card is a valuable time-saving asset. When in doubt, use the long line up. Using it once is better than having to use the long line up every trip for 7 years. Another option is to courier commercial goods because the customs paperwork will be completed by the courier company.