October 03, 2006: From the News Desk of Travel Radio Expert and host of the nationally syndicated radio travel show, "Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams!" :
"Passport Requirements, WHTI UPDATE"
On Sept. 29, Congress passed language to extend the deadline for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI). Here's what the extension means for passport requirements for U.S. citizens:
WHAT'S THE SAME ...
Deadline: Jan. 8, 2007
U.S. citizens will be required to have a valid passport for exiting and reentering the United States starting Jan. 8, 2007 for all air travel.
WHAT'S CHANGED ...
Sea and Land Border Entry Ports
Passport/PASS Card Deadline: June 1, 2009
U.S. citizens traveling by sea and land within the Western Hemisphere _ Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and Mexico _ will be required to have a valid U.S. passport or a yet-to-be-determined, new economical travel document known as a Passport Card on or before June l, 2009.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Congress stipulated that the Departments of State and Homeland Security must meet seven criteria in developing and implementing the PASS card for sea and land ports of entry. If the seven criteria are met within the 17 month extension period, the implementation of WHTI becomes effective three months after the criteria is approved, or by June 1, 2009; whichever is earlier. In other words, the June 1, 2009 implementation date for WHTI may be moved back if the agencies can comply with the seven specifications set out by the Congress in the extension legislation.
U.S. Department of State_s Office of Passport Services reports
that 70 million U.S. citizens now have passports. U.S. Passport
Services is receiving 225,000-250,000 passport applications
a week, which is up 60 percent from two years ago. The current
turn around period for obtaining a U.S. passport remains at
four to six weeks. ASTA continues to urge all U.S. citizens
to apply for a U.S. passport, which will ease travelers confusion
on what document is required and when.
See the Members Only side of ASTAnet for the most current information. www.astanet.com/members