Are your documents in order for the summer holidays?

May 20, 2009

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.

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Photo credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook (The Bluewater bridge connecting U.S. and Canada)


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I’m an American citizen and it is harder and harder to get into the USA; but I have to. For those that don’t, why not visit Canada and discover a cleaner and friendlier place to visit with much less crime. It is not worth the troubles when dealing with the Border people, especially when driving to and from Canada. At the airport, it is even worse!

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

The latest US passports do have RFID. They’ve got a symbol on the front to indicate this and the RFID data is encrypted. The RFID is supposed to contain the passport number, name, and a digital photo. They also have a cover with metal which is supposed to block the RFID function unless it’s opened.

The passport card RFID chip only contains the passport number, which is supposed to be used to access a secure database.

Posted by y_p_w | Report as abusive

I have lived outside of the U.S. for awhile so I do not know exactly what an “enhanced driver’s license” is. Please give me some information on this, Thanks!

Posted by Mac | Report as abusive

There really is no substitute for holding a valid passport when traveling. And often car rental and hotel bookings require that you present a passport.

I have been caught in the summer rush to renew my passport and found that an expediting service can be very useful – such as VisaHQ.

A vaild passport is also a great primary form of I.D. to have.

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

remember the words “Gorby, tear down this wall”?

Posted by eloise | Report as abusive

I am a Canadian living in the UDA since 1985 and have been back to Canada a few times, but now it looks like I am in need of a passport. Just another way of the government getting our money, but it is also very necessary. The passport idea helps to keep or at least regulate who comes into either country legally. Now with the winter olympic games to be held in BC it becomes even more vital. We do not want a bunch of terrorists coming there. What I am saying is passports are a good idea, a necessary means to gage who comes and goes. I hope I made some sense in all of this. Thank you. Leon Carey

Posted by Leon Carey | Report as abusive


Ask Google. put in “enhanced”. Google knows what you want. Everything. :)

Posted by Glendokid | Report as abusive

I never heard of an “enhanced drivers license” either. It is true it is harder for an American to get back in here from Canada, either driving or flying, but the Canadian people are quite nice and relaxed in general. That makes up for the troubles getting in and out.

Posted by Becky | Report as abusive