I Need To Get NEXUS For Canadian Immigration

Global Entry is one of the greatest things to happen to international travel in the past few years. Previously coming off longhaul flights I would always dread not only being asked over-the-top questions by immigration, but also often queuing for well over an hour. Global Entry is a dream come true as far as that goes, as it’s nice to be able to land and be outside of the terminal within a few minutes without feeling like you took it up the chutney.

I don’t mind immigration in most other countries… except, oddly enough, Canada. Let me say upfront that I love Canada. It’s an awesome country, Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world, etc. But their immigration officers drive me absolutely bonkers.

I’ve never actually had to queue at immigration for extended periods of time in Canada, but rather I can’t stand the terrorist-like questioning, as if you’re simultaneously trying to smuggle bombs, meth, and child porn into the country. Which seems to happen to me every time.

Fortunately I came prepared this time. I flew Cathay Pacific first class from New York to Vancouver and got a solid three hour nap in. As we were on our final approach the fabulous first class flight attendant, Carrie, made me a cappuccino. I asked if I could also have a couple of glasses of Krug. Not only is it mighty tasty, but it’s the only way I’d get through Canadian immigration without increased blood pressure.


I think I’ve cracked the Canadian immigration questioning code. They ask you a simple question, and then take your answer and put “why” in front of it for the next dozen interactions, and each time give you a smug look as if they just cracked the world’s biggest mystery. So usually the conversation goes something like this:

“So what brings you to Canada, eh?”
“I’m just in transit enroute to Hong Kong?
“Why are you in transit enroute to Hong Kong?”
“Well, because the flight through Vancouver had the best deal.”
“Why did the flight through Vancouver have the best deal?”
“Well, because I’m using miles, and there was award space on this flight?”
“Well, why was there award space on this route and not any other?”


This time around the line of questioning was a bit different:

“So you’re only here for one day, eh?”
“Yes, I flew Cathay Pacific from New York since it’s a more comfortable plane and am connecting to Seattle tomorrow.”
“Are you meeting anyone here?”
“Well it might be a Saturday night, but the flight was 90 minutes late and the bars are closed, so I guess not.” “Um, no.”
“So what were you doing in New York?”
“Picking up a ‘shipment,’ of course.” “I have family there.”
“And what are you doing in Seattle?”
“How is this any of your business?” “I live there…”
“Where are you staying?”
“The Fairmont downtown”
“Ah, but which Fairmont?!”
“Does it really freaking matter, Inspector Gadget?” “The Fairmont Waterfront.”
“Are you sure?”
“So, do you have anything with you?”
“I”m not standing naked in front of you, am I? So clearly…”

I can appreciate the concept of questioning that’s designed to detect behavior, but surely there are limits to that, no? I kind of feel like what I do in my home country isn’t the business of immigration in a foreign country. But hey, at the end of the day it’s their border and I guess they can do what they want.

Which brings me to my point… I really need to get NEXUS, which is the fast track service for Canadian immigration. If I plan on going to Canada with any frequency and living past the age of 40, it’s my only option…

Anyone else get frustrated by Canadian immigration? Or which country’s immigration frustrates you the most?

Filed Under: Security/TSA
  1. I’ve had more questions asked getting back into my own country (the United States) than ever going into Canada.

  2. It’s hard to believe you didn’t get NEXUS to begin with considering there’s an interview location at Boeing Field and it’s half price of GE (but comes with GE included).

  3. @ oleg — I got Global Entry when I still lived in Tampa. If I knew I would move to Seattle I would’ve gotten it from the beginning.

  4. Very similar experiences as you Ben. I used to travel to YVR for work a few years back and even needed a work visa. I thought that would help, boy was I wrong. More questions. EVERY time I would come in they essentially wanted me to prove that no Canadian could ever possibly do the job I was coming in to do.

  5. While I do sympathize that the questioning can be a bit…intense, part of what they’re looking for is an answer that isn’t specific. Vancouver & Fairmont’s are unique since there are several Fairmont hotels downtown. If your interaction was as specific as it is in this post, that gives them the suspicion they’re looking for to ask you more questions.

    First time I went to Canada I was questioned for over 10 minutes. I go to Canada regularly and have since got Nexus. My experiences before I got Nexus were not as bad.

    Bottom line, be as quick, honest, and unambiguous with your answers as you can be.

  6. It’s so funny to read Americans’ criticism of Canadian Customs & Immigration.

    Americans have absolutely no appreciation of what “ALIENS” i.e. non Americans endure from the US CBP.

    Lucky, do you know that under US law, every alien coming to the US is PRESUMED to have the intent of staying in the US & the onus is on the Alien to prove otherwise to CBP?!
    So under US law, every visitor is presumed to want to break the law.

    No wonder why US CBP officers have a reputation of being rude to visitors.

  7. @ JA — They’re not just rude to visitors, they’re usually rude to Americans as well. I’ve had my fair share of tirades about US immigration on the blog, trust me! Drives me nuts, especially that they don’t treat foreigners/visitors better.

  8. Wow… This is spot on! I am in the middle of a MR and had to go to the ‘special’ line in Canada because they couldn’t understand why I would possibly WANT to fly through Canada.. Well guess what Canada, I don’t want your “free” healthcare (which has a C$80 copay) and ridiculous tax structure or your frigid winters. I love Canadians but when you have an easier time getting into Israel than Canada, there is a problem.. And it’s YOU… CBSA.

  9. I’ve had similar experiences flying into YVR or driving to Ontario. So far, my experience flying into YUL has been pleasant.

  10. At YOW preclearance, some US agents can be bad even when you clear through Nexus/Global Entry. I’ve had them ask me those types of questions. I’ve had them insist on stamping my passport. One agent in particular gave me the look of death when I asked (politely) if she could not stamp my passport so that I could save space. I have gone to the YOW Nexus office twice to ask/complain about this. The first time, the US agent said of course they don’t have to stamp my passport when clearing through Nexus/Global Entry, and that it was a training issue she would pass on. The second time, a different US agent literally told me that if I didn’t like it I had the choice of not visiting the US.

  11. Honestly I have never heard a Canadian say “eh” or “aboot” misnomers and kind of annoying to see it repeated by US Citizens. Note: I am a US Citizen living in Canada for the last 4 years.

    Never had an issue with Canadian border control.

    If you get nexus ($50 for 5 years) , global entry is complimentary.

    The USA transborder entering usa is now faster for non nexus users than nexus holders. As all immigration is run via computer terminals with a brief agent visit. The new computers make nexus and global entry look like Windows 95.

  12. Someone has to keep the Americans from stealing all of our clean air and free health care!

    Seriously though, if you want a rough time, try telling US CBP that you work in the nuclear field. The “n-word” gets you extra inspection every time.

  13. Nexus is definitely worth it. For $50 you get the expedited Canadian immigration, Global Entry, TSA Pre check and get to use Nexus CATSA lines as well.
    Immigrations and Customs officers are 50/50, I accept it now and come prepared for it. Keeps life simple.

  14. My experience is that they are trying to see if you are really there for work so they can try to force you to buy a work permit.

    In my experience, US is the worst (and I’m a US citizen) unless I’m traveling with my wife (fortunately I have global entry now), followed by the UK (I have some nasty stamps in my passport telling me to not come back without a visa), and then NZ, Australia, and Canada. The other 30 or so countries I’ve been to didn’t really even ask a question, though I’ve never been to Israel or Russia which I’m sure could be more aggressive. I was shocked how easy China was by comparison.

  15. As an alien of both countries there is no way I would do without the NEXUS card. Just whiz through customs and immigration with no questions. Perfect for US and Canada.

  16. My solution to this won’t apply to most people: My mother was Canadian, so I just applied for, and received a Canadian passport. Problem solved 🙂

  17. As an American, who travels to and from YYZ frequently using Nexus, I can say that it is a big time saver! Literally from gate to arrivals area takes 3-5 mins. Breeze through with no questions asked. Even at the border it saves at least an hour.

  18. Canada border guards are police academy rejects who make about 50K and are only doing this out of necessity, not by choice .

  19. Wow, I have flown back and forth across the US Canada border about 50 times in the last three years and have never had remotely these kinds of issues with the Canadian agents Maybe because I am on a Canadian passport, although for immigration, I am a visitor going both ways, since US immigration defines residency by citizenship and Canada defines it by, well, residency, as in where you live! Have had a few rather difficult entries into the US, maybe 10 to 20% of the time, but absolutely 0 problems crossing into Canada.
    I can also add, as a Western Canadian living in the US, that it is absolutely true that Canadians often say eh (I say it a lot), usually where an American would say huh, and that Eastern Canadians do have a different way of saying about (an accent, if you will), but if you are from Eastern Canada, it seems that you will never notice the difference

  20. There is a reason there is a tv show (Border Security) based mostly on the Canadian Border Services Agency CBSA in Vancouver Airport and the land border between WA and BC. By the way, if you ever run into officer Danielle or officer Attilla at YVR, tell them they are my favourite from the show! Well worth a watch.

  21. Still better than my experience enduring 1.5 hours of CBP secondary screening at EWR last month after apparently too many entries/exits in a week brought up an alert on the Global Entry kiosk. Being Canadian (Global Entry through Nexus) and flying in via San Salvador probably had something to do with it too.

  22. The most annoying place is Cuba. They like to search your luggage to make sure you’re not bringing items for the Cubans, such as satellite dish or computers.
    Great place to visit though. The people are friendly and fun.

  23. I’ve been through YUL and YVR many times and YVR has given me trouble more than once.

    My girlfriend is from YVR so I’ve visited many times, and I’ve been trying to work here but that’s beyond impossible like someone mentioned above.

    I’m always asked so many questions, like I’m trying to hide something. I know others must get this treatment in USA and I apologize, but I feel like other countries have given me a lot better treatment.

    If anyone has seen the show on National Geographic Channel, it’s about border patrols and they ALWAYS look at YVR. sigh

    On a side note, I’ve had to go through the border near YVR by car before, everytime….awful. I can’t believe I actually considered marrying my gf to move here. I’m out as soon as possible.

  24. Also, most of my friends in Vancouver say the American border partrol/immigration people are a lot nicer. *shrug*

  25. Part of the ‘interest’ is probably your age, Ben, and maybe the fact you’re traveling solo. We have relatives on both sides of the border and have lived in both countries.

    When our son was younger and driving a snazzy new pickup truck, he was sent for secondary at least once by US agents who obviously suspected he was a smuggler (he works in IT). Once when heading up to Vancouver to visit a friend the Canadian agent asked him ‘Why would you have a Canadian friend?’ Fortunately he didn’t give any of the amusing replies to that straight line but explained.

    NEXUS, although not foolproof, is a great advantage (even if the YVR machines haven’t been working that well lately) and worth your pursuing.

  26. Hey, I thought Canadians were supposed to be way nicer than Americans! At least, that’s what people in the US think 🙂

  27. To be fair, I know that traveling solo is a flag, but whether we’re Canadians or Americans, what’s the difference? We both have countries we want to live in and we have the largest open border in the world. I know I should get NEXUS since I have GE but I really think both of our countries should have citizen lanes without the 5th degree interrogations.

  28. Juan: I did recently get my Nexus card and can’t wait to use it =D

    But I still don’t like Vancouver 😛

  29. It’s call pay back after all US Immigration got to be one of the worst out there canadian are just on par to make american miserable when coming in their country

  30. As a American living in Canada I travel back and forth quite a bit. Love that I can just breeze straight through Canadian and US immigration. i got directed to the office few times in a row..and each time the CBSA in YUL were confused.. “why’d you get sent to this office.. you’re american”…didn’t want to be bothered waived me out.. turns out my work permit data in my nexus acct had expired & they kept waiving me out until the 4th or 5th time after I entered canada…overall but positives dealing with CBSA.

  31. Having a US Passport doesn’t help anymore with CBSA than having a Canadian passport helps with CBP. They are both disappointing but seriously Canada, no I don’t want to claim asylum in your country. 🙂

  32. I work for a company founded by a Canadian. We have plenty of Canadians that work for us that complain about the US Immigration. I have had to endure 45+ minutes in secondary with rude interrogations. Now I have notes in my record and driving or flying, I am pulled into secondary. They think everyone wants to take their money to the states. I absolutely hate the business trips to Canada and won’t ever vacation there because of it. I have had bags searched, car searched when driving across border, required to show hotel reservation or phone numbers of people I am working with in Canadian office. It really is a nightmare. I asked about NEXUS on last trip and was told to go through the line and advise them of Global Entry. Will give it a shot in June.

  33. Funny. Canadians think that US guards are the worst. Handle Canadian ones by only answering their questions and anticipating. They want to know why you are traveling, every time. So tell them without overvolunteering. Honestly, your travel patterns are not normal given your job, so it shouldn’t be surprising they are inquisitive!

  34. I took the same JFK-YVR flight last Friday. When I got to immigration, the agent asked why I was visiting. I replied “ski trip”. She stamped my passport and I was on my way. Totally painless.

  35. I hold a New Zealand passport and have never yet had a bad experience with USCBP. The worst experience was a disinterested USCBP officer who wasn’t particularly friendly as he went through the motions. The Canadians, on the other hand, seem to relish being overly aggressive (and what’s with the bulletproof vests??)

  36. I was born and raised in Calgary and have worked for an airline for the last five plus years at YYC. You are spot on – I can travel across and around the world with minimal questions (if any, especially in Asia), but coming back to my home country is always an interrogation to say the least. The best part is that YVR is now part computerized so as a Canadian you are able to initially bypass the Officer and use the machine and only if there is an issue are you redirected to a CBSA Officer. YYC and YYZ Agents seem to always want to search my bags. At least YUL ends the questionnaire once I identify myself as an active airline employee; that always seems to satisfy them. Admittedly, some of my non-rev travels are short trips (26hrs in Tokyo after flying 9+ hours each way) so I understand somewhat why they ask a million questions.

  37. As a Canadian who travels to the US, I can say exactly the same thing about the US CBP. Thankfully I have NEXUS now.

  38. I completely agree with you lucky! Last summer I took CX889 from JFK-YVR and had an almost identical interaction.

  39. I know the feeling, Lucky. Crossing into Canada by car, I was asked if I “was meeting any under-aged girls I met on the internet.” No joke. Guess I look like a predator to Canadians. :/

  40. I was working in Bellingham and drove to Vancouver to have lunch with a friend and then returned back to US, only in Canada for 3-4 hours….I have Nexus which is designed for people that frequently go between the two.

    US Agent: What were you doing in Canada?
    me: visiting a friend for lunch
    agent: how is it you have a friend in Canada?
    me: I don’t know, how is it you have friends anywhere
    …I immediately thought, .ooops, that’s NOT what I meant to say but that’s how the agent took it….grilled for another 5 minutes and eventually let through, to my HOME country. geesh

  41. Let’s not even start with American immigration. They make Canadian immigration a breeze. I have to tell that sometimes I get a very nice US immigration officer that all he says is “welcome back home”. However, many many times the bad experience starts when you are in line before you talk to the officer. No line preference for pregnant woman. No preference for families with babies or little kids (you can imagine how “happy” they are after flying 12-13 hours and having to be awaken to leave the plane). Also, many times I showed my boarding pass for my connecting flight and asked if I could move to the front of the line because I would miss my flight. Answer was always “don’t worry sir, there is always a later flight”. So, that is the “welcome to the US” most of the times you get here.

  42. Ah American exceptionalism at its finest.

    Your country does it even worse to everybody else (including the Canadians). The US is so much more invasive in wanting to know what citizens did on their own soil (heck you have your own agents wandering undercover questioning innocent citizens who have NOT even left their own country). Your type of travel behaviour is highly abnormal given your age, demographic profile and how you compare to normative travellers. So you have a very much high risk. I am surprised you have not been sent to secondary yet (or maybe you have and don’t want to discuss it).

    Nexus applications involves a stringent background check by BOTH American and Canadian authorities. Be prepared to answer any and all comments you have publicly made regarding the CBSA. Both sides have to agree to give you Nexus and each have veto power.

    Before criticizing other countries you need to look at your own and how they treat foriegners. And don’t play your dual citizenship card claiming you’re not really ‘American’.

    I would expect such a post from an ignorant American who just got their passport. Not a world traveller.

    I hear the US Airways call center is hiring…

  43. While NEXUS is a necessity if you fly to Canada, the kiosks used at our airports are mostly inoperable and more often than not fail to capture the retina scan properly. Yesterday at YYZ T1 2 of the 3 kiosks were down, the regular line ups were in the hundreds, and half the time the one unit failed to read the retina scans! The sooner the new kiosks are installed and we move to the same process that Global Entry does, the better it will be.

    As for the questioning try US pre-clearance agents, they seem determined to keep you out of the USA, so another advantage of GE is never having to face these interrogations again!

    Of course silly questions are not limited to agents. Just back from Asia and several countries have printed questionnaires that include questions like are you carrying drugs, guns, etc. Have you ever been refused entry into *********? But what still gets me is the $10K currency question most countries have on their entry forms. Of course I don’t have that much currency with me, but add together my credit card limits and I have several times that amount which technically is the same as cash.

  44. Okay, reading all those messages about YVR immigration makes me feel kind of better about me being brought into the “special” room there, them going through my luggage and asking those kind of weird questions I really couldn’t answer (mainly when I was there I stayd for 10 days in Canada, flew in from SFO, had a domestic flight to YYZ and flew out home from there but I hadn’t really planned my travel beyond the hotel accommodation an the flights). I’m from a Western European country, and while the lines at US airports are most times ridiculously long, at least the CBP stuff there never asked me more than a few standard questions from their booths, and I’ve never been brought into the “special” room when entering the country or had them going through my stuff…

  45. US has the worst immigration, period. I was throw into secondary inspection without a word of explanation yesterday at IAH. Two hours later, a “lovely” officer sent me out again without any explanation…. I couldn’t help but asked what in the world happened? The officer goes like:”No worry, just a system error”…. I mean really???? Well, I guess at the end I do need something to remind me how awesome Europe is(exclude CDG& LHR if you will…)…

  46. Vancouver’s the worst. I’ve been asked for the phone number of the girl I was visiting, and I’ve been taken in the back room and interrogated by agents in armored vests and jackboots.

    The places I love are Hong Kong and Colombia. Just wave you through, basically. “Come on in and spend your dollars!”

  47. I never travelled to the US or Canada but flying in and out of Australia quite a bit in the past 12 months I have to say that their customs are the most annoying to me so far. Especially in Adelaide (SA) the questions they ask sounds like “What kind of job are you doing here?” “ANSWER” “Are you sure you are doing the job stated in ANSWER?” “YES” “Well are you bringing any food with you?”….. they just freak me out and they almost every single piece of luggage getting out of a plane…just hopeless…

  48. @Kacee yeah they did the same for me. I met a girl in Vancouver I previously had only known online (I didn’t go to Vancouver for her, but she invited me when she heard I’ll be there) but I didn’t have her phone number as we only communicated via Facebook messages, and it was really ridiculous how they actually wanted to see those Facebook messages (I showed them my phone and luckily had them cached as I didn’t have any internet access at YVR). Basically entering Canada was the worst experience ever… but I loved the country itself. Still plan to go back to Canada one day…

  49. Had a similar unpleasant experience upon entry at YVR as well…really weird and repetitive questions. Also got the ‘special room’ treatment on my way back to SFO. I didn’t get why they cared so much when I was already exiting the country…I loved visiting YVR though! 🙂

  50. Canada Immigration is the worst. I have had more trouble there and was on a watch list previously because I once listed my profession as “consultant.” This got me on the Canadian “Foreign Consultant Watch List” and got me stopped nearly every time with a million questions about if I was working and if I was going to pay my tax to Canada Revenue. Normal countries have a terrorist watch list, Canada also has a consultant one! Canadian Immigration Officials routinely go on and on about trying to tax American consultants for the time they spend in Canada – which they generally can’t do under NAFTA. Thankfully, the watch list seems to be tied to the passport number so when your passport expires, you get off the list, which is what happened to me. Also, I run events. And, Canada Customs is far worse than most 3rd World countries. They try to tax everything and you need to hire a Customs Broker to ship brochures to an event. It’s pathetic. I have brought up both the Immigration and Customs issues with every tourism board in Canada, with Canada Tourism, and with Canadian Government Officials. They simply don’t care or don’t get it. Their Immigration & Customs are seriously far less friendly and efficient than other First World Countries.

  51. I am Canadian. I have just recently received my Nexus card because I was frustrated with customs, both Canadian and US at land and air crossings. I love it. I save time and problems and that means added profits for me. My retinal scan and fingerprints are no problem for an innocent person…

    Good Luck

  52. Another perk of NEXUS is that you get a priority security line at most Canadian airports.

    To weigh into this whole debate as a Canadian, I think the CBA is the worst in the world to deal with. Though there was one time that for some reason the US customs kept on asking me if I had a brother…

  53. They gave me a hard time when I was there for work providing manufacturer support to extremely specialized equipment (Which does not require a work permit). Ended up with quite a few stamps from Immigration on that passport. But my personal visits have been extremely simple to get through border control

  54. I got the NEXUS card about 3 years ago and it’s fantasic. Leaving YUL you get to use the air crew line through security, which saves even more time, particularly on those awful early morning US departures. The interview by CBSA to get the card was considerably more detailed than it was for GE, where all they did was show me how to use the kiosk. As I recall, the CBSA interview took close to an hour, including a film presentation. If you interview on the US side of the border, you still can’t use the card at Canadian airport crossings until you get your irises scanned, which was only available at airport locations when I got the card. I interviewed in Detroit and got my iris scan a few weeks later at YUL. Iris scan only took a few minutes.

  55. I travel to YYZ and YUL a fair amount to visit friends, and used to have a lot of issues. The thing that I found works the best – close to 99% smooth sailing – is to reply with just this when they ask why I am visiting:

    Friends, shopping and eating.

    The interrogation and luggage checks stopped almost immediately.

  56. Pretty much sums up Canadian customs alright. I used to have to travel to/from Canada at least twice a month for work. Despite carrying every piece of paper imaginable I still budgeted an extra hour for their “20 questions” secondary screening. Plenty of times I had to argue with Toronto secondary customs when they tried to deny entry despite having all my papers. I loathe every Canadian customs location except Montreal. I never had a problem with them. I actively avoid Canada when possible despite loving the country and the people.

    And for those that keep saying “experience the US customs as a foreigner” it is rarely any better for a US citizen. I’ve had more “unpack all your bags and stand there like a criminal” secondary inspections from the US than I’ve had anywhere else (4 US and 1 Canada). Give me customs in Paris, Brussels, or Frankfurt any day!

  57. Gotta concur with lucky. I spent a decade entering the US and Canada on either UK or NZ passports. Canadian officials always asked way more questions about why you’re there, where you’re staying, who you’re meeting etc, etc.

    I grant that being a white person on the passports of friendly countries might have made my US experience different than others experience. But it still corroborates lucky’s experience.

  58. Nexus is the only way to go – but watch out – many of the optic/iris scanners do not work ( supposedly being replaced soon )When they work it is a dream to enter the US or Canada bypassing all inquisitions. Remember this border scrutiny is driven by a misguided American paranoia that Canada has lax border protection. Having the card has made traveling a breeze for both customs and security .

  59. I’m Canadian and entering the US has been the oddest questions by far, especially the one time I connected from Cancun via LAX before flying home to YYC. Examples. Why are you staying overnight at the airport hotel? Stunned silence when I told him air canada flew out the next morning so I wasn’t sleeping I the airport lounge. Second awesome example. Are you two married? Yea we are. To each other? WTF?
    Since getting NEXUS it is much better going both ways.

  60. I’ve had great fun this year with Canadian immigration and I have Nexus (Canadian citizen who spend half the winter in Florida). Best was when the machines were down, went to officer who asked for my passport (which was somewhere at home) and send me for secondary immigration. Officer asks status in Canada (citizen), where was I born (xxx), where I lived (xxx), where I was going (xxx) and what was Stompin Tom Connors song on xxx which I sung for him and he told me to get out of there.

  61. I booked an Avios LGA-YUL-LGA same day ticket to visit Montreal and have lunch there, by myself. Shall I cancel it? It seems they would not believe me if I told the truth.

  62. Lots of rants against Canadian border officials, I see. As a frequent traveler over the border (Canadian) I’d have to say the US border service tends to be more aggressive than the Canadian side. Most of the time it’s fine in both directions – I have Nexus – but you do get officious agents on both sides occasionally. One thing that really bugs me, in the post 9/11 world where travelers transiting through the US have to deplane, collect our luggage, then clear immigration and customs before heading to the gate for our next flight is to be asked by US Immigration ‘What is the purpose of your visit!’ Takes all my self-control not to give a smart-ass answer.

  63. @ M — Ultimately if you have an explanation you should be fine. Might be a few minutes of annoying questioning, but that’s it.

  64. When I’ve entered Canada without using a NEXUS channel, I’ve still had to do Twenty Questions, even with my NEXUS card. 🙁

  65. Spot on Lucky – your post matches my experience every time. The questions are ridiculous and I have been pulled into secondary a few times. My experience has taught me to respond to the question with as little detail as possible. The more information you provide… the worse the questions seem to get. It got so bad when I was traveling there for work that I just started saying I was attending a “conference” – that usually worked better than trying to explain the real situation (subcontractor to a US-based company with operations in Canada). I have also had trouble with US immigration, and again, I just try to provide one-word responses to their silly questions.

  66. @waddy said:
    “…Crossing into Canada by car, I was asked if I “was meeting any under-aged girls I met on the internet….”

    You should have said “I’m gay, why would I meet underage girls? You just assumed I’m heterosexual based on my looks or else you wouldn’t have asked that question. You have stereotyped and degraded me and now I’d like to immediately file a complaint on you for harassment.”

  67. OMG! YES! Canadian immigration is the worst thing ever. I thought it was just me and my son was saying I was being overly sensitive but they are like terrorists themselves! I took my son to Vancouver for his 21st Birthday. The Canadian terrorist asks what we are doing here, I said celebrating my son’s birthday (he was standing next to me)-he then asks me if this (indicating my son) is my son (???) I wanted to say “No, I travel with strangers and claim them as my offspring”. Then he asks if it’s just the two of us-uhm yeah, we are the only two standing in front of you. Then he asks me where his father is (how about none of your business?) but he really ticked me off I looked him straight in the eye and said “Dead, he’s in a grave, would you like to know which cemetery and plot number? He finally let us go. Needless to say, I have NEXUS now because I too love Canada.

  68. Canadian is the worst I have experienced in the world. They have interrogated me multiple times. Asked to see copies of itineraries, sent me to secondary multiple times. They wanted me to boot my Mac to look for child porn, and then they could not figure out how to look for it, so we had to wait for the Mac “expert”. Awful.

  69. Is it legal to fly JFK-YVR-LAX on CX and AS as a single award ticket? Or is this cabotage?

  70. Also trying to get on new LH next week.. Lax-yvr-fra.. Is immigration necessary on the yvr transit? Or would you avoid this?

  71. @ E — I thought I was going to have to clear immigration, but an agent directed me to a side hallway where they just checked my documents. Shouldn’t take long either way though.

  72. Hi Lucky,

    Your CX JFK-YVR reports inspired me to book my own trip YVR-JFK in F in July, but now a bit concerned with
    the connection I make, SFO-YVR on a separate (probably award) reservation on either United or Air Canada the same day. Should I be concerned about connection issues, perhaps building in extra time for the layover?

    Also, if you have Global Entry, can you get NEXUS as part of the deal? Or it seems if you go the other way, and have NEXUS, then you can get Global Entry as a package? Bit confused about that.


  73. @ Dan — If you’re honest I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just leave yourself a bit of time. You’d have to apply for NEXUS and then you’d get Global Entry as part of it. Not the other way around, though.

  74. Has anyone here gotten NEXUS after having Global Entry? I signed up for Global Entry last year as I wasn’t going to be near any border towns to be able to do the interview. Now I have some travel in a few months which will be taking me back & forth US/CAN so now would be able to.

    Does anyone know how to do it? I didn’t see anywhere on my GOES account where I could add NEXUS.

  75. I’m a Canadian who just got Nexus / Global Entry a few months ago and it was the best 50 bucks I ever spent. Earlier today I must have saved at least an hour in lineups at YYZ connecting to USA.

    The only two questions I got from US customs were:
    Is this a business trip?

    Do you have a visa?

    Have a nice day.

    Now when dealing with the border agents, the best thing you can do is be truthful and show them respect, even when they are rude. Be honest on your declaration cards (ie if you have food, or more than $10,000 cash just declare it). Answer their questions respectfully no matter how ridiculous you think they might be… they are just doing their job. If you do this and are crossing the border for a legitimate purpose than you’ll never have a problem.

  76. Never had any problems in immigration anywhere except Russia and that was just because the officer couldn’t find my permanent resident stamp in my passport as the Consulate in Toronto put it on the wrong page. Once they found it I just breezed through. I use my Canadian passport in Europe and half the time the agents don’t even look at me when stamping it. But I’m also a tiny 5’3″ white girl in a dress so I don’t think anyone sees me as any kind of threat.

    I’ve actually declared extra alcohol when coming back to Canada and been laughed at by the customs agents. Apparently they don’t care about an extra bottle of wine.

  77. I suspect it is you. You are either evasive, or your story just doesn’t make sense.

    I have crossed the US-Canada border, at least 1,000 times, by air, sea, and land. I have never had such detailed questions.

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