U.S. Set to Implement Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

Article courtesy of travelpulse

The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and State (DOS) have announced that their efforts have enabled the departments to jointly certify to Congress that all statutory criteria have been met prior to implementing the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) at land and sea borders on June 1.

WHTI is a joint DHS-DOS plan to implement a core 9/11 Commission recommendation, which Congress subsequently passed into law in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Upon implementation of WHTI, travelers will be required to present a single WHTI-compliant document denoting both citizenship and identity when seeking entry into the United States through a land or sea border. Children under the age of 16 will need to present an original or copy of their birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. Standardized, secure and reliable documentation will enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to quickly and accurately identify travelers at land and sea ports of entry. The WHTI secure document requirement is already in place for all air travelers, and applies to travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the U.S., Canada and Bermuda. These land and sea document requirements will be effective June 1, 2009.

Many cross-border travelers already have WHTI-compliant documents such as a Passport, Passport Card or a Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST), or an enhanced driver’s license (EDL) currently issued by the states of Washington, New York and Vermont and the Province of British Columbia. The State of Michigan and additional Canadian provinces will be issuing EDLs in the coming months—all of which are options specifically designed for land and sea border use. For more information, visit the Department of Homeland Security.