The Travel Industry Association, along with its strategic partner, the Travel Business Roundtable, is encouraging everyone anticipating a trip to or from Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean to get a passport as soon as possible. Recent Congressional action extended the deadline requiring a passport for land and sea travelers; however, air travelers will need a passport starting in January 2007.
“Canadians, Mexicans and others in the Western Hemisphere, including U.S. citizens, will need a passport at airports beginning in January, so it makes sense to be prepared as soon as possible,” said Roger Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Industry Association. “People taking cruises and entering the U.S. by walking or motor vehicle don’t immediately need a passport, but why wait if you anticipate taking trips?”
“Having a passport simplifies the travel process for everyone,” continued Dow. “We strongly encourage Americans and international travelers to get a passport now.”
Here’s what travelers need to know.
Air Travel: All Americans flying to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean will need a passport beginning January 8, 2007 in order to re-enter the country. The same rule applies to all international travelers flying into the U.S. from those same countries. Airlines have been enforcing this rule for the past year; the industry is not expecting a major impact.
Sea Travel (Cruise): The new deadline requiring American and international travelers to carry a passport or other secure travel document while cruising in the Western Hemisphere will go into effect no later than June 1, 2009. Consensus is that this rule will probably be enforced sometime in 2008, identical to the land border travel date for implementation.
Land-Border Travel: Like the sea deadline, the new land border travel deadline for Americans re-entering and international travelers entering the U.S. in motor vehicles will be enforced at some point prior to June 1, 2009, but no exact date is set.
Passport Alternative: Cruise and land travelers will also have the option of utilizing the PASS (People Access Security Service) card currently under development by the U.S. State Department. This is a less expensive passport alternative, with a proposed price of $20 for adults, $10 for children. The process for obtaining a PASS card will be the same as for a passport.
Information for Americans obtaining a passport can be found at www.travel.state.gov. The new passport rules apply to all travelers, regardless of age. Adult passports last for 10 years and child passports last for five. The State Department indicates that a passport is usually obtained within six to eight weeks. However, because of rising demand, applying as early as possible is recommended. In addition, if you have an imminent trip, passports can be expedited for an additional fee.