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ALL PERSONS traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.
LAND AND SEA TRAVEL
The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
U.S. citizens need to present either (a) a passport, passport card (available in spring 2008), or WHTI-compliant document; or (b) a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
As early as June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document.
Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.
U.S. PASSPORT AND WHTI COMPLIANT DOCUMENTS:
U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.
The Passport Card: U.S. citizens may begin applying in advance for this new, limited-use, wallet-size passport card beginning February 1, 2008. We expect cards will be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. When available it will only be valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.
WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of January 31, 2008:
- Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
- State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
- Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
- U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
- Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
- Form I-872 American Indian Card
- Effective Jan. 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens (19 and older) will be required to present proof of citizenship, such as 1) a passport or 2) a birth certificate or naturalization certificate supported by a government issued photo ID, when entering the United States through land and sea ports of entry from Canada. Children ages 18 and under are only required to present proof of citizenship (without ID), such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or passport. If a birth certificate is presented, it must be a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state. A photocopy of a birth certificate will only be accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if the original has been sent to the Department of State in support of a passport application. In such case, the traveler must obtain and provide proof of passport application. These changes are significant as compared to the current and long-standing policy that allows CBP officers to accept oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry into the United States through a land or sea border. Effective Jan. 31, 2008, oral declarations will not be accepted.
- Eventually, at an unspecified date in mid-2008, the Department of State will require passports, or soon-to-be announced passport alternatives, from ALL travelers at ALL points, including air, land and sea, within the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the effective date, the State Department intends to make available a Passport Card, which is specifically designed for land and sea travel from neighboring countries. The primary advantages of the Passport Card are that it will be less expensive and smaller than a traditional passport. In addition, several states including Washington, Vermont and New York are creating an Enhanced Driver_s License that will, according to the CBP, also fulfill the proof-of-citizenship requirement at land and sea borders. Further details of these alternative products are unknown. However, CBP says that ample notice of the exact date of implementation will be provided to ensure travelers can obtain the appropriate documents.
- Since passports are the gold standard for entering and exiting the country from all foreign destinations, ALL travelers, including those traveling by land or sea in the Western Hemisphere, should be obtain, and travel with, a passport.
- For domestic sea travel which includes: the Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, a passport (valid or expired) is highly recommended.
- In the absence of a passport, a birth certificate (original or certified copy), plus laminated picture ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency is required. Note: Baptismal papers and hospital certificates of birth (except for new borns) are not acceptable.
- For U.S. Naturalized citizens, in the absence of a passport, Naturalization papers (either original or notarized copy) plus a picture ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency is required.
- A voter registration card or Social Security Card are not considered to be proof of citizenship.
- Children under 16 years of age do not require a picture ID.
- Please note that requirements are subject to change. Travelers are required to check with the passport information center in their area for updates.