In case you have not heard, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative takes effect today. If you are not an American or Canadian national, you would not have to worry about it as you already have other requirements that you need to meet. However, for Americans and Canadians seeking to enter or re-enter the United States, you now need to present valid travel documents. These include a U.S. Passport Book, a U.S. Passport Card, or any other documents approved by Homeland Security. Do take note that the requirements apply to people coming in from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Here is more information from the government’s web site:
• All U.S. citizens traveling by air are required to present a passport book to enter or re-enter the United States.
LAND AND SEA TRAVEL
On 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 other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.
• CHILDREN: U.S. citizen children under the age of 16 will be able to present the original or copy of their birth certificate, or other proof of U.S. citizenship such as a naturalization certificate or citizenship card.
Groups of U.S. citizen children ages 16 through 18, when traveling with a school or religious group, social organization, or sports team, will be able to enter under adult supervision with originals or copies of their birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. See the Department of Homeland Security’s GetYouHome.gov for more information on the changing travel requirements.
Old habits die hard and some people I know do not take their passports with them going to Canada or Mexico, thinking they’re just neighbors anyway. If there is one thing you have to remember this time, take your passport with you!