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The Importance of Having a U.S. Passport for Travel

Posted by JenW On May - 20 - 2009

Beginning June 1, 2009, the United States Department of Homeland Security will put into effect NEW changes that will drastically change the way American citizens travel. The days of simply driving across the borders of Canada and Mexico are now things of the past. Passports are now necessary and have become even more important for any international travel. Below you will find information for traveling securely beyond the United States.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), started by Homeland Security, requires all citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda to have a passport which establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or depart the United States from within the Western Hemisphere.

This change in travel document requirements is the result of legislation put into action in the post-September 11 world. The new passport has many features that make it one of the most secure travel documents produced anywhere in the world. Getting these more secure passports into circulation will help minimize the misuse of American passports by criminals, terrorists, and others.

According to the WHTI, this travel initiative is being implemented in two phases:

  • Air travel requirements went into effect on January 23, 2007 and now all travelers including children must present a passport when entering the United States by air.
  • Land/Sea requirements are transitioning toward standard and consistent documents for all travelers entering the country with full implementation on June 1, 2009.

For International land and sea travel, your best bet is to obtain a passport. A ‘U.S. Passport Card’ is also available, however, it CANNOT be used for international air travel. This new travel document can only be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry. Since the Passport Card is so limited, you will still need to have a regular, secure passport to ensure easier traveling.

For traveling by sea, such as when taking a cruise, a passport is definitely a good idea because you will no doubt be visiting other countries. If you are taking a “cruise to nowhere” which begins and ends in a U.S. port, you will only need a birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license.

To get a passport quickly and conveniently, I recommend using the excellent service provided by Passport Visas, a professional expediting company officially recognized and registered with the U.S. Passport Agency.

Passport Visas will assist you in obtaining your passport in as fast as 24 hours or less and they feature simple step by step instructions that make the application process clear and easy for you to follow. Remember, you only have a short amount of time to get your passport before the June 1st deadline!

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