Can you please expound? One reason I ask is that I like to bring back OTC meds, which the CBP formulary allows Americans re-entering USA to bring in a 30-day supply. Is that somehow disallowed for NEXUS holders? I guess what I’m curious about is: What additional food or drug prohibitions are there for NEXUS holders that don’t apply in the “regular” lanes?

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I’ve no experience with meds. We like to go to the large Asian groceries when possible. But generally they don’t allow most produce, most meats. That is what I would’ve brought back. The thing with nexus, which they probably told you at your interview, is know what you can’t do and don’t do it. They will revoke your pass if you violate that. So since their regs are not the clearest as to what you CAN bring, we erred on the side of caution and brought back only a couple of bottled and sealed sauces.

The rules are the same regardless of what lane you are in.

That’s good to know.

I knew about meat, since we were once forced to toss (probably straight into the booth operator/inquisitor’s lunch bag) a nice piece of leftover steak.

I’ve found that the Do/Don’t thing is a morass of uncertainty, and even the booth jockeys don’t have very good knowledge. Last year, we 'fessed to bringing back one OTC med, and the booth guy said “I don’t think you’re allowed that”, but let us pass nonetheless. In the runup to our interviews, I looked up the CBP permitted formulary, and nope, there it was: a 30-day supply of that drug is permitted. So in future I’m keeping a copy of the formulary in the car.

I believe that not knowing what is/isn’t permitted just tempts many travelers to lie and conceal. And apparently risk NEXUS revocation.

Yes, if there is anything different between the lanes, it’s that. One works too hard for a nexus pass, as you well know, to risk it by trying to bring across a hidden container of pate. Whereas you might make that attempt in the regular lines, knowing you can feign innocence and lose your pate. That’s it. “Trusted Travelers” have more to lose, and part of the interview is promising to understand the rules.

My understanding is that, as long as you declare everything, you can’t be penalized; the worst that can happen is confiscation. Is it different with NEXUS?

I took the time this afternoon to do some research. I’m attaching a cut-n-paste from the USDA website, which purports to be authoritative. Note that a lot of foodstuffs ARE allowed.

USDA Lists.pdf (420.8 KB)

Note that there’s no mention of restaurant leftovers being prohibited. Huh?

Well, I assumed that the admonition to know the rules also meant you wouldn’t declare something that was clearly off limits. I didn’t look massively closely before we went, but it wasn’t a USDA site. I believe it was something to do with border patrol and then they had links pointing to various resources. The things that weren’t allowed were the ones I most wanted. We were having lunch that day at a dumpling place with frozen dumplings, and adjacent to an Asian market where I was hoping to get some fish and some fruit/veg. None of that was permitted.

From our experience, fish is permissible. From Taiwan to SFO, we’ve brought back frozen fish in styrofoam packed in cardboard boxes.

Always checked yes in the “bringing in any foods……” box. When asked, we submit that we have confectionery and frozen fish. We’ve had to run boxes through the scanner on a couple occasions. Always passed.

Never brought back meats, poultry, produce or vegetables.

There is no form and no scanner at the land border crossing. And while one might be able to have this conversation in the regular booths, when you have nexus it is expected that your interaction will take no longer than 15 seconds because you already know all the rules. That’s the reason people go through the process - so that they can wait in a shorter line without everyone having a long conversation at the booth. That said, I will check again on fish, but I was fairly certain it said no fish, no meat, whether fresh or frozen.

" Animal Products and Animal By-Products
The importation of fresh, dried, or canned meats or meat products is generally not allowed from most foreign countries into the United States. This includes products that have been prepared with meat. However, currently pork and poultry, which has proof of origin, from Canada is enterable. The regulations on importing meat and meat products change frequently because they are based on disease outbreaks in different areas of the world. The best source for the current disease status can be found at USDA APHIS.

This guidance is intended only for travelers crossing at Canadian land borders ; it does not pertain to commercial shippers. Air travelers from Canada should refer instead to the guidance provided for international travelers on the USDA’s webpage "Information for International Travelers.”"

You can see that the rules are different for land and for air travelers, and since the preceding section was titled “animal products” I interpreted the warning to include fish.

I had spent hours of research and pored over all the links for the USDA and APHIS before our first fish attempt. Must admit to some trepidation the first go.

I’d even asked the inspector during scanning if fish is specifically allowed, he replied in the affirmative. For myself, I’d prefer to forgo the hassle of the secondary inspection.

My wife on the other hand, loves Aji and similar fishies. Much better quality and cheaper in Asia. So a bit of inconvenience and extra time gladly endured for the sake of domestic harmony.

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Here’s the link for travelers returning to the US from Canada:

From the “meat” tab for land crossings:

"No import permit or documentation is required for travelers to bring back up to 50 pounds of meat (total) of the following types of fresh (chilled or frozen), cooked, cured or dried meats from Canada: beef, bison, veal, sheep (lamb, mutton), goat, swine and camelid. Travelers can also bring in personal-use amounts of foods containing beef, veal or bison."

(Emphasis mine) So my leftover steak should be OK. What’s unclear is if the leftovers include cooked mushrooms, cream and cheese. Seems like that should qualify for entry under the last sentence quoted above, but hey…


Everyone I guess has their comfort level. Until you posted this, I’d forgotten that when we came back, the booth officer asked us if we were bringing anything back. I replied a small bag of groceries. And he specifically asked - any meat? So there will be all the printed rules, and then what the booth officer knows, and do I want to rely on the fact that he/she knows the rules? Do I want to argue with them? Possibly get my stuff thrown away that I just bought? I’m a lawyer in life. I don’t personally need to go looking for battles in my spare time. Ymmv of course. I can do my grocery shopping in Seattle for similar big city offerings, and not deal with any of this uncertainty.

Well, yeah, that’s partly the point: Based on my prior border experience, the booth guys and gals sometimes don’t know the rules (They do have 14 federal agencies’ rules to enforce after all). Another part is, if the rule is on your side, it’s gonna be hard to justify revoking your pass. The cardinal rule appears to be to declare everything.

I’m a lawyer, too, and I don’t mind politely asking the basis for “No” when the answer is “Yes”. I can’t help but think that the 15-second goal cuts more in our favor than CPB’s. I also don’t mind handing over the CPB/FDA formulary to show my drug is allowed.

Did I miss something about NEXUS card holders not being permitted to bring back things the unwashed masses can?

All these commonalities :slight_smile: I’ve been in situations where you know you are right and the other side is wrong but they are also the final arbiter of what is right and wrong. Compliance anyone? So I just don’t like to get myself in situations. I don’t want to argue with them, it’s not worth the hassle or the stress. Say, I’m curious. Pm me and tell me whereabouts you reside. And maybe more about your lawyer gig.

Oh, I’m all against picking fruitless fights. I once represented a prevailing party under RCW 4.28.250 who did everything right, yet His Honor refused all applications for fees. I argued with him just enough–and politely–that when he invited an appeal, I got the satisfaction of a look that told me he knew he was wrong. Of course as a practical matter, he knew a “small claims” party wasn’t going to do that.

In the NEXUS situation, if I was in a hurry, I’d just hand over my leftovers. But I might ask for a supervisor’s name and number so I could follow up.

That explains why you still appear to be in litigation and I got out of that a million years ago.

Oh, I’m not that kind of litigator. But I did work at some firms that prided themselves in that approach. Of course I punished lawyers at those firms when I went to work for the City.

Today we activated our NEXUS cards.

We initially applied in December 2021. FIFTEEN MONTHS.

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And today (Saturday) was our maiden NEXUS voyage–to Van. More a shakedown cruise, with dogs. The advertised wait at Peace Arch northbound was 30 minutes; it took us <5 to cross in the dedicated lane.

Southbound, the readerboard warned of 35 minutes, and we waited about 5 again.

Saving nearly an hour’s frustrating idling made us feel the long waits for appointments, interviews and the cards were worth it.

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We’ve used the nexus less often at this point to get across the border as we have for TSA precheck at the airport, and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Congrats!

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