News January 2006

State Department Proposes Passports for Travel to Western Hemisphere Countries

The Department of State has proposed a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to and from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Bermuda to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer's identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. Previously citizens of the U.S. or Canada traveling across the border were exempt from passport requirements.

The travel document initiative will affect all United States citizens traveling within the Western Hemisphere, who will now be required to carry a passport or other accepted document. It will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States namely most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda and Mexican citizens.

The Department of State proposes to roll out the Initiative in phases. The proposed timeline will be as follows:

In order to apply for a passport, United States citizens can visit the State Department's travel website, or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center: 1-877-4USA-PPT; TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will not affect travel between the United States and its territories. U.S. citizens traveling between the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa will continue to be able to use established forms of identification to board flights and for entry.

If traveling outside the United States or a U.S. territory, a passport or other secure document will be required. For example, a person may travel to and from the United States to the U.S. Virgin islands without a passport or other secure document, but under proposed regulations, a passport or other secure document would be required to re-enter the U.S. Virgin Islands from the British Virgin Islands or another country as of December 31, 2006.


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