New Passport Initiative
Designed To Expedite Travel
in the West While Enhancing Security
Departments of State and Homeland Security announced today the Western Hemisphere
Travel Initiative to secure and expedite travel. 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 the U.S. by January 1, 2008. Currently,
U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere
are not required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the U.S. when traveling
within the Western Hemisphere.
Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA, also known as
the 9/11 Intelligence Bill), signed into law on December 17, 2004, 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.
provide vital information to the general public, the Departments of Homeland Security
(DHS) and State (DOS) are issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM)
on the plan to the public and requesting input and/or comment on the suggested
documents and possible alternative documents that can meet the statutory requirements.
A more formal rulemaking will be issued later this year, following review of those
comments, to implement the first phase of the initiative. This rulemaking will
take into account comments received from the advanced notice as well as soliciting
further comments on the rulemaking itself.
goal is to strengthen border security and expedite entry into the United States
for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors," Homeland Security Acting
Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security, Randy Beardsworth stated.
"By ensuring that travelers possess secure documents, such as the passport,
Homeland Security will be able to conduct more effective and efficient interviews
at our borders."
recognize the implications this might have for industry, business and the general
public, as well as our neighboring countries, and they are important partners
in this initiative. The advanced notice of proposed rule making will allow these
affected publics to voice concern and provide ideas for alternate documents acceptable
under the law," explained Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs,
Maura Harty. "The overarching need is to implement this legal requirement
in a way that strengthens security while facilitating the movement of persons
and DOS propose to roll out the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative in phases,
providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable
them to acquire the necessary documents before the deadline.
previously noted, the passport (U.S. or Foreign) will be the document of choice
for entry or re-entry into the U.S. However, another document that we anticipate
will be acceptable under the travel initiative is the 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.
Other documents that we anticipate will be acceptable under this Initiative are
the Customs and Border Protection Secure Electronic Network for Travelers Rapid
Inspection (SENTRI), NEXUS and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) program cards.
documents are also being examined to determine their acceptability for travel.
The public will be notified of additional travel document options as those determinations
are made. The government would expect that acceptable documents must establish
the citizenship and identity of the bearer, enable electronic data verification
and checking, and include significant security features. Ultimately, all documents
used for travel to the U.S. are expected to include biometrics that can be used
to authenticate the document and verify identity.
Department of State)