Are your documents in order for the summer holidays?
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is making a big push to make sure Americans are aware that effective June 1 new document requirements will be in effect for entering the United States by land or sea from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The promotional material handed out to reporters to show the different acceptable forms of identification all used the name in the example of “Happy Traveler.”
Verbal statements of American citizenship, birth certificates, or ordinary driver’s licenses will not comply with the new requirements for re-entry after camping in the wilds of Canada, sunning on the beaches of Mexico, or cruising the Caribbean.
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, created in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, will require one of the following for Americans: passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, or one of three trusted traveler program cards.
Except for the passport, they all have a Radio Frequency Identification chip that can be held up to an electronic reader before the traveler encounters the officer at the entry booth.
Entry by Canadians also requires passport, enhanced driver’s license, or a trusted traveler program card. There will be no change for Mexicans who will continue to be required to present a passport with visa or a border crossing card.
The government will be flexible for some time after the June 1 start of the program for those who didn’t get the memo on the changes, but repeat offenders will be noted.
“We’ll get to a point where enough is enough,” Jayson Ahern, acting commissioner of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told reporters.
Asked whether the identification cards were similar to an EZPass to get through toll booths, Ahern replied: “Similar but different.” He said he doesn’t expect the changes to increase traffic backup at entry points.
Photo credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook (The Bluewater bridge connecting U.S. and Canada)