Sometime last year my boys NEXUS cards expired and until now that hasn’t really been a big deal. The dollar has been crap compared to the US which has meant way less US travel and way less online shopping on US sites (with shipping to a Blaine address) so we have mainly been staying this side of the 49th parallel.
But, summer is coming and the dollar is getting a wee bit better and I want to be able to head south without haveing to worry about 2+ hour delays at the border so I went through the excruitating process of renewing their NEXUS cards online. Now take careful note here people, the GOES system does not email you a notification when your conditional approval comes in so you need to remember to login and check at certain intervals of time, say bi-weekly or so. Which of course I did NOT do, and just to add insult to injury by the the time I did remember to log in and check I missed the cut off for booking an interview by 3 days. 3 days! Ugh!
So, I had to repeat the entiiiirrrrreeeee process again.
Anyways, we got re-approved and I booked our appointment times, which FYI at most locations is at least 3-4 weeks ahead if you’re lucky, especially if you want to get two times close together. Since we live relatively close-ish to the Blaine border crossing I thought it made sense to book our appointments there – the kids and I would zip down after school one day, be in and out in an hour and all would be well. Easy peezy lemon squeezy right?
Wrong! So my friend’s, learn a few lessons from my exercise in hell south of the border this past week….
Here is what NOT to do at your NEXUS interview:
- Assume that you know exactly where the NEXUS office is located – For some reason, I totally thought it reasonable that the NEXUS office be located at the actual US border in Blaine and was really proud of myself for getting there with 15 whole minutes to spare. That is until I realized there is no NEXUS office at the Blaine border. And this realization was happening as I sat in front of the scrutinizing eyes of my slightly chubby and very grumpy border guard, until he explained to me where exactly I needed to go (no, not to h-e-l-l) but down the I-5 towards Birch Bay. Only 15 minutes to go!! Ack!
- Don’t bring any snacks or entertainment for your kids – Not surprisingly, after my initial panic, we arrived with about 2 minutes to spare all to discover that they were running about 45 minutes behind schedule. Both kids were tired and cranky and HUNGRY, I had no snacks, no option to buy snacks within a 5 minute walk, nor any cell phone entertainment because I was too cheap to pay for roaming for the 2 hours we were in the U S of A. So they played tag and fought and cried in the waiting room to the dismay and disgust of all the childless people waiting for their interviews. Sigh.
- Don’t bring all the supporting documents you need – My thought process was why the heck would they need a birth certificate when I have their passports? WRONG! And if both parents aren’t able to come to the interview you need a document stating from the absent parent that it is in fact OK for the kiddos to be there applying for NEXUS with you.
- Have your kids get into an epic scrap in front of the US Border Patrol Officer – typically most border patrol officers don’t have the best sense of humour. Lucky for me, mine must have felt all sorts of sorry for me as I attempted to break up an epic scrap that ended in tears for all 3 of us
- Have your own NEXUS profile be out of date (oops!) – Again, major props to the lovely Canadian Customs Officer who overlooked the fact that my own profile has some outdated info (which can mean your card getting revoked on the spot) and just had me give the updates to the clerks at the front while we waited