NEWS

New duty-free rules won't tie up border traffic

06/04/2012 10:46 EDT | Updated 08/04/2012 05:12 EDT

U.S. border officials say they still expect to keep frequent travellers moving quickly even if traffic increases in the Nexus lanes as a result of new-duty free rules.

On June 1, the duty-free limit on visits of more than 24 hours rose to $200 from $50. Canadians staying longer than 48 hours are now allowed to return with duty-free goods worth up to $800, up from $400.

After the new rules went into effect on Friday British Columbians flocked south of the border to take advantage of the new rules over the weekend, with standard lane lineups reaching up to an hour at some crossings.

But some Nexus users like Jessica Mushanski worry the duty-free changes could mean long lines even in the Nexus lane.

Mushanski, who has had a Nexus card for two years, says Nexus lineups have been getting longer in recent months, and worries the waits will only get worse now that Canadians can spend more money in the United States.

"I like it because I like to shop down there, so I like the increases, but if it's going to increase the flow of traffic going down ... If it continues in the Nexus line, I don't think I'll renew," she said.

More Nexus lanes

But Thomas Schreiber with U.S. Customs and Border Protection says long lineups shouldn't be a problem.

"I certainly hope more and more people take advantage of Nexus. It's an outstanding program," he said.

"Certainly in my time up here we've added more and more lanes at our ports of entry because population growth in Metro Vancouver keeps increasing, so I would forecast that eventually we would be adding more Nexus lanes."

He said the U.S. is working on a number of initiatives to reduce border wait times, including allowing anyone with a radio frequency ID card — like an enhanced drivers' license — to cross more easily.

The Canadian Border Services Agency says 675,000 people are Nexus members — and about 200,000 of them are B.C. residents.

MORE:cbcNews