The days of visiting Tijuana or Vancouver with nothing but your driver’s license and a smile are soon to be over. As of January 8, 2007, air and sea travelers will be required to present a passport or other approved form of I.D. as a result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). This applies to all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
As of January 1, 2008, land travel will be included as well. The specifics for land travel have not yet been determined.
Approved forms of documentation include Merchant Mariner Document (which you aren’t going to get unless you join the coast guard) or the Air NEXUS card and possibly the Border Crossing Card, in addition to the standard passport. Passports can take up to six weeks to process, so if your travel plans include flights or boat travel in to one of the countries in question, I would get on the ball. You can get information on passports through the Department of State website.
Passports WILL NOT be required to return to the United States from U.S. territories, including Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Swains Island and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
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Cruise ships fall under the land or sea crossing rules. However, pleasure boat and ferry passengers will be subject to the land crossing regulations.
For updates on pending legislation, check the U.S. Department of State website.