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Customs Promises Flexible Implementation of June 1 Requirements

May 28, 2009 By: George Dooley


The travel industry faces still another federal mandate with the June 1 deadline for implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). But luckily, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency assures us they will be flexible and practical in implementation, allowing U.S. and Canadian citizens, if otherwise admissible, to be able to re-enter the United States when the new WHTI rules are implemented.

“CBP’s mission is to protect our borders,” said CBP Acting Commissioner Jayson P. Ahern. “WHTI implements a key 9/11 Commission recommendation by requiring secure travel documents while facilitating entry. We will be practical and flexible in implementing WHTI using the same informed compliance approach that proved successful during other major changes at our borders over the last two years.”

CBP is committed to working with travelers to ensure they have access to and can obtain appropriate travel documents. U.S. and Canadian citizens who lack WHTI-compliant documents are encouraged to continue with their travel plans and to obtain WHTI travel documents as soon as possible to further expedite future border crossings.  

WHTI documents for land and sea travel include:
·   U.S. or Canadian Passport;
·   Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST/EXPRES);
·   U.S. Passport Card;
·   State or Provincial Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (when and where available)

U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean need only present proof of citizenship, such as an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate or a Canadian Citizenship Card.

Document requirements for lawful permanent residents of the United States do not change under WHTI; lawful permanent residents should continue to present their Permanent Resident Card (I-551) when entering the United States. A passport is not required.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the joint Department of Homeland Security- Department of State program that implements a key 9/11 Commission recommendation and Congressional mandate to establish document requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the United States, Canada and Bermuda. WHTI document requirements for air travel went into effect in 2007.

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