WHTI-Compliant Document To Be Required for Land, Sea Travel Into the U.S.
Effective June 1, 2009, travelers will be required to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identity for all land and sea travel into the U.S., the Departments of Homeland Security and State announced. The final rule for the land and sea portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), announced March 27, 2008, will apply to previously exempt travelers, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda.
The DHS said it is releasing the WHTI land and sea final rule more than a year in advance of its implementation to give the public ample notice and time to obtain the WHTI-compliant documents they will need to enter or re-enter the U.S. on or after June 1, 2009. The agency noted that many cross-border travelers already have WHTI-compliant documents, such as a passport or a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), or a Washington state enhanced driver’s license (EDL). The Department of State is already accepting applications for new passport cards and additional states and Canadian provinces will be issuing EDLs in the next several months, all of which the DHS said are options specifically designed for land and sea border use.
Beginning June 1, 2009, DHS will institute special provisions that allow school or other organized groups of children ages 18 and under who are U.S. or Canadian citizens to enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship alone.
Information on specific documentation requirements is available for U.S. citizens and for non-U.S. citizens here. The full text of the final rule is available as PDF. The DHS has also designated the enhanced driver’s license and identity document issued by Washington state as a travel document under the WHTI. Questions and answers on the WHTI final rule are available.