Travel Tips: Passports and PASS Card

In several previous posts (RFID Passports and Protection, Traveler Tips: RFID Passports (Update)), I have discussed the changes in US Passport rules, including the introduction of the RFID chip.

Some important date changes have been announced that should be kept in mind.

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), all US citizens traveling into or out of the US to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda by air will be required to have a valid passport by January 8, 2007.

The rule is to be applied to travel by sea and land, but there are few criteria that Congress is requiring the Department of State and Homeland Security to meet before that rule can go into effect. As of now, the rule will be applied to sea and land travel on June 1, 2009. However, Congress has also allowed the departments to meet their criteria and move that date back.

While having the passport seems fairly cut and clear, the waters have become slightly muddied. Instead of having a passport, the departments are developing a so-called PASS Card that could be used in place of a passport for western hemisphere travel.

As of yet, there are few details about this new card, but the primary motivation seems to be offering a ‘more economic’ alternative to the passport.

Most of you have probably been to Mexico or Canada with only your driver’s license. Those days are over. Visit the US Department of State passport site to learn more.

From the Dennis Baron Diary

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