Archive for May, 2009

New Travel Requirements

May 30, 2009

On June 1, 2009, a new rule will affect all international travel. I have copied and pasted from the government’s website here (cursive and bold were added by me for clarification):

AIR TRAVEL

  • All U.S. citizens traveling by air are required to present a passport book to enter or re-enter the United States.

LAND AND SEA TRAVEL

On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security.

It is ALWAYS a good idea when traveling to a foreign destination, to have a passport with you at all times. A passport is – simply put – a document issued by MY country that identifies me as one of its members. And yes, Canada is a foreign country!  In the summer, we have lots of clients taking Alaska cruises, and yes, they travel through foreign waters (Canada) during the Inside Passage. In the winter lots of clients take Caribbean cruises or vacations, and even though we consider the Caribbean our backyard, these are foreign countries! I am always glad to know where my passport is when I travel.

I travel to my home country a lot, Germany, and I would probably be able to pass as a German still (have not been a German since 1975, when I had to give it up because I wanted to become an American). My command of the German language is still excellent (can’t lose that, my mother would have something to say about that!), and I still know my way around over there. But I still have my passport with me when I leave my mother’s house.

We also have to consider that other countries have rules different from ours. I have traveled to countries, where there are sporadic police checkpoints. They check their own people as well as visitors. How much easier when all documentation is in order, since I am a guest there….

Regarding the passport cards – I personally don’t think they are a good idea, as you will need a passport book in addition to them most of the time anyway. So it becomes just one more card to clutter up my billfold…. If I travel by air, I cannot use the card anyway! The only reason one would want a passport card is if they travel to Canada or Mexico routinely via road, rail or sea. So a truck driver, train conductor or someone who works on a ferry could benefit from the passport card. For the rest of travelers, a passport book, even though it is more expensive, is the best way to go.

See our agents about requirements necessary to obtain a passport. By the way, for adults 16 and older, the passport costs right at $100, and is good for 10 years. For younger citizens, the cost is lower, but the duration is lower as well – only 5 years.

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