DHS Proposes to Relax Land, Sea Passport Rules for Children
As part of the forthcoming notice of proposed rulemaking on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to propose significant flexibility on requirements for travel documents for U.S. and Canadian children entering the U.S. via land or sea ports. The proposal would allow U.S. and Canadian citizen children 15 and under, with parental consent, to cross the border at land and sea ports with a certified copy of their birth certificate as an alternative to a passport or other WHTI-compliant identity document. Also, U.S. and Canadian citizen children, ages 16 through 18, traveling with public or private school groups, religious groups, social or cultural organizations or teams associated with youth athletics organizations would be able to enter at land or sea ports under adult supervision with a certified copy of their birth certificate.
The initial phase of WHTI travel document requirements went into effect in January, requiring all air travelers regardless of age to present a passport for entry into the U.S. The DHS proposal does not affect the requirements for air travel.
The Department of State plans to issue final regulations soon that will allow the Department to issue U.S. citizens a lower-cost alternative to a passport, the Passport Card. The DHS said that a proposed rule addressing land and sea travel will be published at a later date and will include additional details on requirements for travelers entering the U.S. through land and sea border crossing. The DHS plans to continue to issue WHTI-compliant border crossing documents for frequent border crossers under its trusted traveler programs.