The Air Transport Association (ATA), the industry trade organization representing leading U.S. airlines, reminded passengers of new and more restrictive travel document policies set to take effect in early 2007 for all travelers entering or re-entering the United States by air from any part of the Western Hemisphere. Beginning Jan. 23, 2007, all travelers will be required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the United States, including U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. by air from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda.
These new travel document requirements were issued by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). They are a result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, which Congress subsequently passed into law in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, in an effort to enhance security and efficiency at U.S. borders.
“These changes, while requiring slightly more advance planning, are vitally important to the security and safety of air travelers,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “This holiday travel season is the last time that passengers will be ably to fly throughout the Western Hemisphere and return to the U.S. without a passport, so we urge all travelers without a passport to act now to ensure a seamless journey.”
ATA suggests that travelers without a passport take immediate action to begin the application or renewal processes, which can take as much as eight weeks.