On a recent trip the words “TSA Pre Cert” magically appeared on our passports, and it was almost like flying first class – well, really, not at all, though we did feel quite special as we got shunted into a special line where no one was ahead of us and we didn’t have to take off shoes or belts and where laptops and liquids could remain where they were.
So we thought we’d apply for it, since you aren’t guaranteed to get it all the time, though if you’re old and gray-haired and limp a little and generally look harmless your chances are better.
Then we found out about Global Entry, which costs only $15 more (like, $100), includes the Pre Cert thing, and lets you go in those special short international customs lines. We think so anyway.
If that application process was anything like applying online for health care insurance, I now see what all the fuss was about. And this site didn’t even crash.
You have to fill in your birth date at least five different times. You have to fill in all addresses you’ve live at for the last five years (hooray for permanence!), as well as all your employers (hooray for retirement!). You have to list all the countries you’ve visited in the last five years (if you take pictures, and use Picasa, this task becomes much easier, except that they don’t have all countries on the list – for example St. Vincent is there, but not St. Martin, the Falkland Islands, or South Georgia Island, all of whom stamped my passport).
Then, mysterious unexplained boxes appear like “maternal name” and is your driver’s license EDL? Thank god for Google, where others, set adrift by Homeland Security, gave us the answers (in case you’re wondering, “maternal name” is only if you’re Spanish, and an “enchanced” driver’s license lets you get into Canada faster but is only available in a few states so far).
Right now, standing in a customs line seems a lot easier.