What happens when the NEXUS lane is closed but you are a trusted traveler?

Looking at Niagara Falls from the Rainbow Bridge at midnight. (My own picture.)

One night, I headed back to the United States from Niagara Falls, Ontario. I crossed via the Rainbow Bridge, which doesn’t have NEXUS. I was crossing at midnight, so unfortunately, there was only one lane open. I had to wait about 10 minutes for my turn to be interviewed. I noticed each car up front took about 2 minutes for their interview.

Unlike a NEXUS lane, the instructions here were to wait behind the cameras until the person at the booth leaves, rather than pulling up early and waiting at the cameras.

When it was my turn to speak with the agent, I pulled up to what I call the “staging area”, which is where they take pictures of your car to see if it’s in any of their databases. For normal people, they go through this area slowly straight to the agent. But because I had my Global Entry RFID card with me, and because there is a proximity card reader here too, I stopped for a second, took out my Global Entry card, and scanned it at the proximity card reader.

I then immediately proceeded to pull up to the booth. The agent did not ask for my passport because scanning the Global Entry card already pulled up all my information to the agent’s screen. He did not simply let me go easily though; with that tone of suspicion that border agents usually have for literally everybody (except those in the NEXUS lanes, lol), he still asked me:

  • What were you doing in Canada? (standard non-NEXUS question)
  • Are you bringing anything back with you? (standard non-NEXUS and NEXUS question, although NEXUS is usually phrased as “Do you have anything to declare?”)

I had my answers already prepared, though, so this only took about 30 seconds in total. After I answered these questions, I got a “you can go”.

Overall, while I did not save time waiting for my turn, I still think I had an easier time crossing the border than the others I waited with.

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