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US International Travel Restrictions

By John Mehrmann
Published: Sunday, 12th October 2008

If you are planning travel between US, Canada or Mexico by air or sea, be prepared to present your passport. The same rules apply for the Caribbean and Bermuda. If you are planning business travel, a ski trip, Spring Break, family vacation or warm weather excursion, be prepared to carry a federally recognized identification to enter the US, even if you are a US citizen. The same rules will apply to roads and land border crossings in 2008.

Beginning January 8, 2007 anyone traveling by air or sea to or from the United States and Canada or Mexico must carry a passport or other federally recognized identification to return to the United States.

These new rules also apply to U.S. citizens entering from Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

On January 1, 2008 the rules will be extended to all border crossings, including those on land. 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 British Overseas Territory of Bermuda and Mexican citizens will be affected by the implementation of this requirement.

Check your passport and make sure that it is current, or get one if you do not have it already. Getting a passport takes time. The Passport Services Office provides information and services to American citizens about how to obtain, replace or change a passport. A passport is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies the identity and nationality of the bearer. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue or verify United States passports.

To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of 9,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a drivers license. This also applies if your passport has expired and is not in your possession, if it was issued more than 15 years ago, if it was issued when you were under 16 years of age, or if your passport is being replaced because it was lost or stolen.

Plan ahead and allow at least eight to ten weeks to process your request for a new Passport. All the more reason to make sure that you have a current Passport now. You may have the opportunity or need to travel, and may not have more than two months to wait for a Passport. Acceptance facilities include many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. There are also 13 regional passport agencies, and 1 Gateway City Agency, which serve customers who are traveling within 2 weeks (14 days), or who need foreign visas for travel. Appointments are required to request expedited processing.

Passports can also be used as identification for domestic travel within the US. Tired of pulling out your wallet and Drivers License every time that you approach a ticket counter, security or gate check? You can keep your wallet, credit cards and cash in your pocket or purse and present your Passport instead. Many business travelers have learned the convenience of keeping their Passport in a convenient pouch with carry-on luggage to expedite the security identification verification process.

Source: Vancouver Vacation Guide

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