NEXUS modernizing to facial recognition technology at Canadian airports

by Anshul
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a woman looking at a computer screen

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NEXUS is a joint border control program run by the the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and U.S Customs and Boarder Protection, designed to speed up border crossings for low-risk, pre-approved travellers. CBSA is changing the way it processes NEXUS members at Canadian airports. The existing iris scanning technology at NEXUS kiosks will me replaced with modernized facial verification technology. CBSA states that this modernization aligns the NEXUS program with international trends and provides travellers with a simplified method of being identified.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will be the first Canadian airport to transition to facial biometrics, this Fall. NEXUS members that are used to the kiosks with iris scanning technology, can now look forward to the swanky kiosk upgrade as well, from this;

NEXUS facial verification technology

Image Credit: CBSA

to this;

NEXUS facial verification technology

Image Credit: CBSA

CBSA confirms, travellers completing their first passage at the updated kiosks will be prompted to upload their passport (picture page) for storage and identity verification purposes. Members who do not have their passports at first passage will be referred to an officer for identity verification.

Here are the instructions once you arrive at the new kiosks;

  1. Select your language of choice
  2. Indicate the number of travellers in your party
  3. Scan or tap your NEXUS card when prompted
  4. Confirm your identity and personal information
  5. Prepare for a live image photo capture to confirm your identity, when prompted
  6. Collect the printed receipt, which you must carry with you through the customs hall

This new process brings another important update for members, that declarations will not be completed at the new kiosks. NEXUS members that have something to declare must do so verbally, to an officer, at a clearly marked area in the customs hall after using the kiosk.

Although YVR is the first Canadian airport to adopt this modernization, other airports that are expected to follow suit in the coming months;

  • Halifax Stanfield International Airport (YHZ)
  • Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL)
  • Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW)
  • Calgary International Airport (YYC)
  • Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
  • Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG)
  • Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ)

For members that maybe concerned with the data storage and privacy under the new process, here is a statement from the CBSA;

The collection, use and sharing of information is protected by the privacy legislation of Canada and the U.S. For example, the CBSA protects personal information in accordance with Canada’s Privacy Act.The security and privacy of personal information has been factored into all elements of kiosk design and system architecture. While the new kiosks are provided by airport authorities, they are built to CBSA standards and must be certified before they can be activated. No personal information is stored on the kiosk. The only information retained is saved securely on CBSA systems, in accordance with government information, privacy and security policies.

This is a wonderful development and I am eager to try the new kiosk myself. With dedicated lanes, expedited processing and eligibility to participate in TSA Precheck Logo, I am a big fan of the NEXUS program and it has definitely been the best $50 (five-year membership) spent on a ‘travel product’.


Title Image Credit: CTV News (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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