New Passport Requirements

The passport requirement for travelers entering the U.S. and Canada at land and sea ports of entry that was to be fully implemented by summer of 2008, has once again been delayed and is scheduled to be implemented until at least summer of 2009, according to a final approval given to legislation by the U.S. Congress a few days ago.

Although more thorough security methods at the Del Rio Port of Entry and other border ports of entry have already begun to take place in a notable way, presenting a birth certificate and a valid U.S. identification is the only requirement set to take place in 2008, beginning January 31, said Richard Pauza, Spokesperson for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Laredo Field Office.

“Beginning January 31, 2008, people will have to show both their birth certificate and a valid, government issued picture ID,” said Pauza. “This is all part of the WHTI (Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative), but the passport requirement has not been fully implemented for now.”

Still, the same question remains in the mind of travelers – when will I need a passport?

Despite the fact that just a few months back, Pauza had stated that the passport requirement would be fully enforced at U.S. and Canada Ports of Entry by summer of 2008, it has now changed to summer of 2009, at the earliest.

“The plans still continue for the introduction of a wallet sized passport,” said Pauza.

“This credit card size passport is designed to be a cheaper and more convenient alternative to getting the regular passport,” he assured.

Led to believe that those who have already obtained a passport will not need it for at least another year and a half, Pauza said that people should be prepared unconditionally when traveling outside the U.S.

“Although the passport requirement will not be fully implemented as of now, people should still know that the security methods at the border ports of entry are continually increasing,” said Pauza. “Changes can occur at any time.”

The changes in the implementation of the passport requirement and increases in border security however, continue to distress citizens that travel to Mexico and Canada.

“This is all so upsetting,” said Ivan Lopez, who traveled to Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña, Coah., Mexico to visit family during the Christmas holiday. “First we were told that we must get a passport for the beginning of 2008, which cost me a lot of time and money and now I see on TV that we don’t need it until 2009, I feel very confused about all this.”

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