Visa Crunch

What Is CATSA? How The Canadian Trusted Traveller Programs Work?

In order to understand Canadian trusted traveller programs, we could not resist looking into CATSA, also known as the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority.

What is CATSA?
CATSA, the Canadian equivalent of the US Department of Homeland Security, offers Canadians deemed “low-risk travellers” expedited security throughout participating Canadian airports.

“They carry special photo identification cards with security features that give them direct access to many airport security screening checkpoints across Canada,” says CATSA.

How do CATSA’s Trusted Traveller Programs work?

Once you become a trusted traveller in the eyes of CATSA, you are granted access to both Global Entry and Nexus, the latter of which is jointly run by the Canada Border Services Agency and US Customs and Border Protection.

What’s different?

Remember that if you are departing from a Canadian airport, there is no TSA PreCheck, although CATSA offers a similar experience to expedite Canada Border Services Agency security.

“This provides a TSA Precheck-like experience, in that travellers can retain their shoes and jackets, though CATSA now requires that laptops be removed from bags. This program differs from Precheck, however, in that trusted travellers do not enter their KTN (Known Traveler Number) and receive a boarding card printed with access credentials,” a Canadian Visa Crunch reader told via email.

“Rather, trusted travellers must present their trusted traveller card at the entry point. This isn’t an issue for Nexus members, as they must use their Nexus card at the Nexus kiosks, but does present an issue for Global Entry members, as they do not need to carry their card to use the Global Entry kiosks (and thus do not typically carry the cards when travelling).”

As is the case when going through the Transportation Security Administration line, CATSA trusted travellers must still walk through a metal detector and take out their carry-on items for x-ray inspection, notes CATSA.

Are the programs mutual?

While CATSA trusted travellers automatically receive the benefits of a Nexus and Global Entry membership, TSA PreCheck is restricted to US citizens/lawful permanent residents while Sentri is open to all.

Can I use Nexus for flight arrivals at a US port of entry?

Nexus is for travellers arriving in the US by vehicle or foot. Your best bet for clearing customs at US airports is Global Entry, which helps US passport holders and permanent residents pass through US Customs and Border Protection without having to scan their passports.

Foreign travellers arriving in the US are subject to the standard CBP clearance, as is usually the case with non-resident citizens arriving at airports in foreign countries.

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