The Department of State issued a statement yesterday regarding a new Passport Card system to expedite travel between western hemisphere countries once the new Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requirements are in place. For people who travel within the western hemisphere by land or water frequently, including the US, Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean, the new WHTI requirements are a SOB. So the Department of State has proposed a new Passport Card to speed up the anticipated congestion at these border crossings.
The Passport Card will be a limited use passport, valid only in the areas listed above, so don’t plan on using it for your vacation to Bali next year. The cards will be embedded with RFID technology and linked to a secure database. It will contain biographical information and a photograph. It isn’t really clear from the press release what that will mean to the traveler. It sounds to me like cards can be scanned remotely while the traveler drives through the crossing. Kind of like the I-Pass or Sun-Pass or whatever you want to call the pre-paid toll systems people have in their cars. The proposed price is $20 per adult with a $25 processing fee.
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As of now, it looks like the cards will be restricted to people living in border communities or working on commercial boats. The same type of card could be a great resource for businesspeople who frequently visit the included areas.