Children and Seniors Poised forPassport Exemption

There are movements afloat to change passport requirements for both youths and seniors. The Student and Youth Travel Association (SYTA) announced strong support Wednesday for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s recent proposal to change the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to eliminate the need for passports under certain conditions for young travelers re-entering the U.S. at land and sea borders after 2008.

The DHS proposal would allow U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 15 and under, with parental consent, to enter the U.S. at land and sea ports with a certified copy of their birth certificate as an alternative to a passport; the same rules would apply to those ages 16 through 18 when traveling as part of a school group or other social, cultural or athletic organization. Air travel requirements would remain unchanged.

For its part, the National Tour Association (NTA) issued a statement saying senior citizens should also be exempted, and in addition, claimed it has long supported legislation that would lower passport fees for students and seniors. There seems to be some support for this: "I think some of the very same reasons that would have motivated the exemption of children could apply to seniors," Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty was recently quoted as saying.

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