Effective June 1, 2009, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) will require travelers to present a passport or other approved secure document denoting citizenship and identity for all air, land and sea travel into the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. This requirement will affect U.S. citizens. Currently, secure documentation is required only for persons traveling by air to these countries.
A new, less expensive alternative to the passport is the new U.S. “passport card,” available through the U.S. Department of State. This new card was designed to meet the needs of border community residents, and over 350,000 cards have been issued since production began in July 2008. The passport card facilitates entry at U.S. land and sea ports of entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The card may not be used for travel by air. Otherwise, it carries the same rights and privileges as a U.S. passport. Information may be found at www.travel.state.gov. Additionally, DHS is working with the States of Michigan, Washington, Vermont, Arizona and New York to issue enhanced driver’s licenses that denote both identity and citizenship to comply with WHTI requirements.
Several other “trusted traveler” programs have been implemented by the State Department. The NEXUS and SENTRI trusted traveler programs provide expedited travel for preapproved, low-risk travelers through dedicated lanes at land and some air ports of entry. Newly issued trusted traveler cards have enhanced security features and up-to-date technology that help speed enrolled travelers across the border.
On June 10, 2008, the Global Entry pilot program was launched for approved U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who conduct international air travel to reenter the United States using automated, self-service kiosks. The program is currently operational at the Atlanta, JFK, Houston, LAX, Miami, Chicago and Dulles airports. Information is available at www.travel.state.gov.