US Passport Cards & the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
As a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), citizen of the United States and Canada are required to present documentation such as a US Passport book or US Passport card when leaving or entering the United States. This is called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), and will go into full force effective June 1, 2009.
WHTI went into action for those traveling by air on January 23, 2007. However, June 1, 2009 will affect land and sea travel making it a necessity to obtain your US Passport book or US Passport card if you plan on traveling to or from the United States regardless of how you plan on traveling.
If traveling by air, US citizens leaving or entering the United States must have a US Passport book. While the US Passport card is great, it is not appropriate for air travel in any form.
What is considered WHTI compliant documentation for means of travel by land or sea?
- Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
- State Issued Enhanced Driver's License (when available)
- Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
- U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
- U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business
- Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
- Form I-872 American Indian Card
- US Passport card
Please Note: The WHTI-compliant documents described above are acceptable for entry or re-entry into the United States. You may be required to present additional or different travel documents when entering foreign countries, including some countries in the Western Hemisphere. Before you travel, make sure you know the entry requirements of the country you plan to visit.
The goal of WHTI is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.
While WHTI may seem a bit inconvenient, it is law. If you have not applied for your US Passport book or US Passport card, now is the time to consider your options should you plan on traveling to or from the United States. Of course, many people will choose the US Passport book simply because it offers a wider range of options. However, there are many benefits to the US Passport card that should be considered. Of course, you can own both the card and the book should that be your option.
There have been stated concerns about the safety of the US Passport card. However, it is important to note that this form of documentation is extremely safe and contains no personal or identifying information. The US Passport card is the size or a credit card, safe to use, safe to carry, affordably priced, and perfect for traveling by land or sea.
WHTI is a way of life come June 1, 2009. Are you prepared? Get ready today by applying as soon as possible for your preferred choice of documentation and identification – US Passport card and/or US Passport book.
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