New Passport Guidelines
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States.
Starting June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens returning home from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean or Bermuda, by land or sea, are required to present one of the travel documents listed below.
We recommend that you start making plans to get a passport for your future travel. This information is subject to change at any time please visit the State Department website for the most complete information for passports at:
This is an internationally recognized travel document that verifies a person’s identity and nationality. It is accepted for travel by air, land and sea.
U.S. Passport Card
This is a new, limited-use travel document that fits in your wallet and costs less than a U.S. Passport. It is only valid for travel by land and sea.
Enhanced Driver’s License (EDL)
Several states and Canadian provinces are issuing this driver’s license or identification document that denotes identity and citizenship. It is specifically designed for cross-border travel into the U.S. by land or sea.
Trusted Traveler Program Cards
NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST enrollment cards can speed your entry into the U.S. and are issued only to pre-approved, low-risk travelers. The cards are valid for use at land or sea; the NEXUS card can be used in airports with a NEXUS kiosk.
Beginning June 1, 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.
Native Americans will be able to continue presenting tribal documents until June 1, 2009, provided they are affixed with a photo. Customs and Border Protection is working closely with interested Native American tribes toward the development of an enhanced tribal card that complies with WHTI.
"Closed Loop" Cruises
U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the United States, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship may present a government issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the foreign countries your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents.
U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents
Document requirements for Lawful Permanent Residents will not change under WHTI. U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can continue to use their permanent resident card (Form I-551) or other valid evidence of permanent residence status.