Travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico and Canada will be required to have a passport to enter or re-enter the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements and will affect all United States citizens entering the United States from countries within the Western Hemisphere.
This new requirement will also affect certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States. Most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and to a lesser degree, Mexican citizens will be affected by the implementation of this requirement. Essentially, you must have a passport if you wish to enter the United States, even if you are a U.S. citizen.
When It Goes Into Effect
The travel initiative requirements will be rolled out in phases. The proposed implementation timeline is as follows:
1. December 31, 2005 – Passport required for all travel to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America.
2. December 31, 2006 – Passport required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada.
3. December 31, 2007 – Passport required for all air, sea and land border crossings.
How Do I get a passport?
U.S. citizens may visit the Passport section of the State Department web site [state.gov] for information on how to apply for a U.S. passport. You should allow yourself a sufficient amount of time to apply and receive your passport in advance of travel. Current processing time estimates are 6 to 8 weeks.
As the world becomes a more dangerous place, borders are being tightened. How depressing.