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Possible Passport Requirement Postponement

May 30, 2006 By: Mike Jaccarino Travel Agent

The U.S. Senate has proposed postponing the start date of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative—which "will require all travelers, including U.S. citizens, to have a passport or other accepted document to enter or re-enter the U.S. from Canada, the Americas, and the Caribbean," according to the National Tour Association—for 17 months, or until June 1, 2009; the U.S. House of Representatives has not yet agreed to the change. Without this postponement, the WHTI is set to take effect Dec. 31, 2007. Both the U.S. House and the Senate have passed separate immigration reform bills. They must now meet in conference to work out the differences. The Senate has offered some additional relief in the form of the Coleman/Dorgan Amendment to the WHTI. The amendment, passed last week, exempts groups of six or more children crossing the U.S./Canada border from having to show passports, as long as they can demonstrate that their parents consent to the crossing, according to the NTA. The Coleman/Dorgan Amendment caps the cost of the People Access Security Services card at $20, and waives the fee for anyone under the age of 18. The card will be accepted in lieu of a passport, officials have said. Also the Coleman/Dorgan Amendment establishes a 72-hour "day pass" for those traveling without a passport or PASS card.

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