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FAASTeam News Release
Contact: James M. Wilkinson, Regional FAASTeam Manager, Alaska Region
Posted On: February 23, 2007
New Passport Requirements Now Required.
. . . all persons, young and old, including U.S. citizens, must have a valid passport. . . .

Passports now required for travel to/from the United States

 

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of State (DOS) to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate. The goal of the Initiative is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation which will allow DHS to identify a traveler quickly, reliably and accurately.

 

As part of this process, all persons, young and old, including U.S. citizens, must have a valid passport or other accepted official form of identification when entering/re-entering the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean by air. For those traveling by land or sea, a similar requirement will go into effect on June 1, 2009.

These new identification requirements are part of the WHTI which is one element of a much larger law, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. DHS and DOS have jurisdiction over implementation of the WHTI, which will be implemented in two phases:

 

?   Effective immediately, all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda are required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document, or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, as identification. There are no age exemptions, so young children must also have identification.

 

?   As early as January 1, 2008, all persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea (including ferries), may be required to present a valid passport or other documents as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. While recent legislative changes permit a later deadline, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are working to meet all requirements as soon as possible. Ample advance notice will be provided to enable the public to obtain passports or passport cards for land/sea entries.

 

The passport requirement does not apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory; these travelers are not considered to have left the United States and do not need to present a passport. U.S. territories include the following: Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

 

Under the proposed implementation plan, the following documents will be acceptable to fulfill document requirements:

 

?   U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda, and may also use a U.S. passport when traveling via sea and land borders (including ferry crossings).

 

?   The Passport Card: This is a limited-use passport, also referred to as the PASS Card, is similar in size to a credit card and is currently under development. It will be available for use for travel only by land or sea – not by air – between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda

 

DOS and DHS also anticipate that the following documents will continue to be acceptable for their current travel uses under WHTI: 

?   SENTRI

?   NEXUS

?   FAST, and

?   U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document. 

 

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty traveling on orders continue to be exempt from the passport requirement. 

 

Don’t wait to apply for your passport. The current wait time is about six weeks and is likely to increase as the number of applications increases, so a delay could affect your 2007 travel plans. It’s easy to apply for a new passport or renew an old one.

 

To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of over 8,000 passport acceptance facilities (http://iafdb.travel.state.gov) located throughout the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license.

Acceptance facilities include many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. There are
13 regional passport agencies (http://travel.state.gov/passport/about/agencies/agencies_913.html) and one Gateway City Agency, which serve customers who are traveling within 2 weeks, or who need foreign visas for travel. Appointments are required in such cases.

If you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time, you must apply in person if:

?   your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; 

?   your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago;

?   your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16; or if

?   your currently valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen.

 

You can renew by mail if:

?   your most recent passport is available to submit and is not damaged;

?   you received the passport within the past 15 years;

?   you were over age 16 when it was issued;

?   you still have the same name, or can legally document your name change.

If your passport has been altered or damaged, you cannot apply by mail. You must apply in person. For more information on how to renew a passport, please visit How to renew a passport (http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/renew/renew_833.html) page.

 

For more information, you can also call the U.S. National Passport Center at 1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778).