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Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

As of December 31st, 2007 you must have a passport to travel to Mexico. Your U.S. Drivers license will no longer be accepted for re-entry into the United States.

What is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all U.S. citizens, Canadians, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and citizens of Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document to enter or re-enter United States by January 1, 2008. The goal is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors.

Why is the government implementing this travel initiative?
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA, also known as the 9/11 Intelligence Bill), mandated that the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport, or other secure document when entering the United States. For many years U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere including Canadians, have not been required to present a passport to enter the U.S. Other forms of documents, less secure than the passport such as a driver's license, have historically been accepted.

Will there be any other forms of identification accepted?
The passport (U.S. or Foreign) will be the document of choice for entering or re-entering the U.S. However, other documents that are anticipated to be acceptable under the travel initiative are:

* Border Crossing Card: (BCC - or "laser visa"). Currently, the BCC serves in lieu of a passport and a visa for citizens of Mexico traveling to the U.S. from contiguous territory.
* SENTRI Card: Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid Inspection .
* FAST program cards: Free and Secure Trade. This program was designed for truckers who make frequent border crossings.

When will Travel Initiative go into affect?
The Initiative will be rolled out in phases, they state department will be providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines. The proposed timeline is as follows:

* December 31, 2005 - Apply the requirement to all travel (air/sea) to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America
* December 31, 2005 - Apply the requirement to all travel (air/sea) to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America
* December 31, 2007 - Apply the requirement to all air, sea and land border crossings.

Where can I get a Passport?
United States citizens can visit the State Department's travel website, or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center: 1-877-4USA-PPT or 1-888-874-7793. For Information on Passports Click Here

You should allow yourself a sufficient amount of time to apply and receive your passport in advance of travel. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing of your passport application. If you need to travel urgently and require a passport sooner, please visi US Department of State for additional information.

For further information about The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative contact:
US Department of State or the Dept of Homeland Security Online Mexico Insurance

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