Friday, May 27, 2011
Local Boater Option Card
Now Deb and I have used this program for some time, and we usually have visiting friends, that are lawful US Citizens get there card as well. The abridged version of how it works is you get the highly secure hand written card with yet another number for the Government to assign to you, when you call in to customs they plug it in and it gives them all the data on your passport etc. The difference is you can do this on the phone within twenty four hours of returning from a foreign port on a private vessel and most days this is good enough to get you back in the county legally. Mind you that in addition to my passport and drivers license I also hold a Merchant Mariners Document (captains license), a TWIC card this is a Transportation Workers Identification Card, both of these required an FBI background check and the highly secure handwritten local boaters option card.
The process used to be fairly simple, but with all things having to do with homeland security, simple simply doesn't make sense, nor does it generate money from the Federal Budget. What you used to do to get your card was to walk into the customs office either on St Thomas or St John, ask for a local boaters option card. If they were in the mood or weren't to busy clearing in a Ferry from the BVI they would fill out the form, look at your Id's and if you were real lucky they would give you the highly secure hand written local boaters card. Most days they would take the paperwork, tell you that they couldn't process it until tomorrow afternoon and tell you to come back then to pick it up. Sometimes you would come back the next day and the person that processed it would be off and no one would know were the highly secure card was, so you would come back the next day. Well alas no more, now there is a web page, https://svrs.cbp.dhs.gov/ at this Web Page you have to pre enter all the information for your card, then you have to pick an appointment time, at your local customs office.
The reason I am writing all this is we have a friend in from the states that doesn't have a local boaters card, we were going to try to get her one yesterday when she got here, but alas the next available "appointment" is the day she leaves on the 31st. So I guess it's back to customs for us. I will not be surprised if the local customs office keeps this five to seven day window for "appointments" to discourage people from actually coming in and making them fill out the highly secure hand written cards. I will give them the benefit of the doubt it might just be the holiday weekend, but that seems like a lame excuse as they are open 365 days a year.