As of June 1, 2009, rules concerning US
passport usage changed drastically. If you are a wanting a US passport, you will
need to know these changes. While the changes are not all drastic if you plan on
traveling out of the United States, you are now required to have a US passport
book and/or US passport card. While the passport card is sufficient for many
people, the US passport book is still the way to go for the majority of
individuals regardless of age.
Citing post-9/11 security concerns at
our borders, the US government started requiring passports to enter the United
States by air in 2007. However, in June of 2009, stricter rules were implemented
to make traveling out of or into the country need a us passport card or us
passport book depending on your preferred mode of travel.
What are some of the changes you might encounter in this new safer post-9/11 country?
The easy answer is that you must have WHTI-documentation to re-enter or enter the United States. This does not apply to the needs of foreign countries of destination countries so you should always insure what is needed by the destination country. Each country will have different requirements.
All people traveling by air whether
entering or leaving the United States must present a valid, updated, and
accurate US passport book. If you are new to applying for or obtaining a US
passport book, you should apply as soon as possible to insure you have the US
passport by the time you depart. In addition, make sure that the US passport
book will not expire while outside of the United States.
All people traveling by land and sea
whether entering or leaving the United States must present a valid, updated, and
accurate US passport book OR US passport card. Children under the age of
16 may still use a certified US birth certificate to cross sea and land borders.
You may use a copy or the original.
What is considered WHTI compliant
US passport book is the only WHTI
compliant documentation for all forms of traveling. US passport cards,
trusted traveler cards (FAST, SENTRI, or NEXUS), State issued enhanced driver’s
license, enhanced tribal cards, US military identification with military travel
orders, US merchant mariner document when traveling in conjunction with official
maritime business, native American tribal photo identification cards, or Form
I-872 American Indian cards act as WHTI compliant documentation for traveling
via land or sea as of January 31, 2008.
What exactly does WHTI mean?
WHTI is the acronym for Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and is part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (RPTA). WHTI is in place to insure the safety of all citizen and visitors of the United States.
Knowing your rights when it comes to obtaining and properly using your US passport book or US passport card is an important step in insuring peace of mind. You can remain safe and secure while traveling abroad without a lot of hassles… just prepare ahead!
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