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Proof of identity, citizenship required to enter United States

Travel initiative to strengthen countryís land, sea borders and increase homeland security 

U.S. Department of State

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the United States.

The goal of the initiative is to strengthen United States border security while facilitating entry for United States citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.

Currently, United States citizens need to present either (a) a passport, passport card (available in spring 2008) or WHTI-compliant document; or (b) government-issued photo identification, such as a driverís license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

As of June 1, 2009, the United States will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI. The proposed rules will require most United States citizens entering the United States by way of sea or land ports to have a passport, passport card or WHTI-compliant document.

The passport requirement does not apply to United States citizens traveling to or returning directly from a United States territory.

United States citizens may present a valid United States passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the United States and Western Hemisphere countries.

United States citizens may now apply for the new, limited-use, wallet-size passport card. The cards are anticipated to be available and mailed to applicants in spring 2008. When available, the cards will only be valid for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

WHTI-compliant travel documents for United States citizens traveling by land or sea include:

For further information, visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/.