Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Passport Needed to Enter Canada Effective Jan 31, 2008

Effective Jan. 31, 2008
New Requirements for Entry at Land and Sea Ports from Canada

Effective Jan. 31, 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens (19 and older) will be required to present proof of citizenship, such as 1) a passport or 2) a birth certificate or naturalization certificate supported by a government issued photo ID, when entering the United States through land and sea ports of entry from Canada. Children ages 18 and under are only required to present proof of citizenship (without ID), such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or passport. If a birth certificate is presented, it must be a certified birth certificate issued by the city, county or state. A photocopy of a birth certificate will only be accepted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) if the original has been sent to the Department of State in support of a passport application. In such case, the traveler must obtain and provide proof of passport application.

These changes are significant as compared to the current and long-standing policy that allows CBP officers to accept oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry into the United States through a land or sea border. Effective Jan. 31, 2008, oral declarations will not be accepted.

All travelers by air should be reminded to bring a passport. The passport requirement for air travelers entering the U.S. from Canada has been on the books since Jan. 8, 2007.

Please note that travelers holding NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards will continue to be accepted for cross-border travel. Eventually, at an unspecified date in mid-2008, the Department of State will require passports, or soon-to-be announced passport alternatives, from ALL travelers at ALL points, including air, land and sea, within the Western Hemisphere. Prior to the effective date, the State Department intends to make available a Passport Card, which is specifically designed for land and sea travel from neighboring countries. The primary advantages of the Passport Card are that it will be less expensive and smaller than a traditional passport.

In addition, several states including Washington, Vermont and New York are creating an Enhanced Drivers License that will, according to the CBP, also fulfill the proof-of-citizenship requirement at land and sea borders. Further details of these alternative products are unknown.

Since passports are the gold standard for entering and exiting the country from all foreign destinations, ALL travelers, including those traveling by land or sea in the Western Hemisphere, should be encouraged to obtain, and travel with, a passport.

The current turnaround time for a passport is four to six weeks. For information on obtaining a U.S. Passport visit www.travel.state.gov or call 877-487-2778.

Specific documentation requirements for land, sea and air travel may be found at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/ready_set_go/.

To learn more about NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, visit www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/.

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