There will be a two-week delay in the
new requirement for air travelers to
carry passports when leaving or entering
the United States from anywhere in the
Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and
Canada, according to the U.S.
Departments of State and Homeland
The United States had planned to begin
requiring passports at airports on Jan.
8 under the Western Hemisphere Travel
Initiative, but decided late last month
to postpone the new rule until Jan. 23.
The change in travel document
requirements is part of the Intelligence
Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of
As early as January 2008, all travelers
coming into the United States – even
those returning to U.S. soil from
holiday cruise ships or day trips to
Mexico – will be required to present a
passport or other accepted document that
establishes the bearer’s identity and
nationality at the border.
The requirement applies to all
travelers, even infants.
The State Department has dedicated
additional resources and personnel to
meet the increased demand for passports
generated by these requirements.
In Fiscal 2006, the department issued a
record 12.1 million passports to
American citizens, and anticipates
issuing 16 million passports in Fiscal
The two-week delay in the requirement for air travel may allow
Americans who have procrastinated a
little extra time to get their
passports, noted Linda Gorman,
AAA Arizona public affairs manager.
“What many people don't realize, however, is that it is a good idea
to obtain a passport-whether you plan to
travel abroad soon or not,” she said.
“Since it may take several weeks to receive a passport, it is a
good idea to start the process early,
before you even anticipate a need. For
instance, a valid passport will allow
you to visit an international
destination if you need to go in a
hurry, such as the death of a relative
or a last-minute vacation abroad.
Passports will also be required for
students who plan to visit Mexico and
the Caribbean for Spring Break in 2007,”