DHS to toughen land and port entry requirements in January

| 6/21/2007

U.S. citizens don’t always need photo IDs and birth certificates when they head to Mexico or Canada, but that requirement is coming, according to the U.S. government’s top anti-terrorism department.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” Wednesday in the Federal Register regarding the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 268-150 in favor of a Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations bill for DHS that included language to delay the travel initiative until 2009.

Homeland Security officials issued a news release this week, however, saying the department will roll out new requirements for air travel beginning Oct. 1 and land and sea travel in Jan. 31, 2008.

Air travelers will need passports upon their return from Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

“At that point, U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document or a government issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate,” according to the news release.

By summer 2008, DHS expects to require either: U.S. passports, Border Crossing Cards, Merchant Mariner Document or FAST cards for all travel in the Western Hemisphere.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer