Due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the Department of Homeland Security will begin requiring passports for ALL inbound flights to the United States starting January 23, 2007. This includes destinations in the western hemisphere, including Mexico and Canada in which other identification such as a birth certificate was formerly sufficient.
We’ve heard dirty rumors about the deadline beginning sooner, see Going to Canada? Don’t Forget Your Passport and Thank You WHTI for Changing Your Deadline for more information. But this time it seems to be the real deal. A press release is available at the Department of Homeland Security website.
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Normal processing time for a US passport is 6 weeks. If you’re slacking, there are lots of resources out there to help you get the deed done in time, including creating your own passport photos and having your passport expedited with an additional fee through the Department of State. It will cost you $60 for the expedition service but you should have your passport in 2 weeks. For help with visa expeditions, which will not apply to any western hemisphere but may apply to other countries you visit, check with BootsnAll.