Business as usual at border following changes

CHAMPLAIN U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have seen no delays at the border following changes to federal policy under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Chief Inspector Michael M. McMullen reported the majority of those traveling into and reentering the United States were aware of the need for proper documentation as of Jan. 31. The vast majority of people came prepared and had the proper documents, said Mr. McMullen, who estimated more than 95 percent of travelers possessed passports or other qualifying documentation of their identity. There have been no delays whatsoever due to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. While oral declarations of citizenship and identity from U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older are officially no longer acceptable for entering the U.S., Mr. McMullen said the restrictions are being loosely enforced during this interim phase of the travel initiative. Those who approach the border without proper documentation are still being allowed to cross but are given informational literature about WHTI so they may become compliant. Proper documentation currently consists of a single document or two document option. The single document option includes a Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card, Form I-872 American Indian Card, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Card, U.S. Merchant Mariner document, U.S. Military identification with military travel orders or a U.S. or Canadian passport. Pre-authorized traveler cards such as NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards are also accepted. A U.S. passport card will also be an acceptable form of identification when such a document becomes available. Applications for passport cards are currently being accepted by the U.S. Department of State. The two document option allows travelers to furnish a government-issued identification which possesses a photo, name and date of birth, and documentation which proves citizenship, such as a U.S. or Canadian birth certificate. Children ages 18 and younger are only required to present proof of citizenship. Full implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is scheduled for as early as June 1, 2009. At that time, Americans will be required to carry a passport or other form of single document proof of citizenship and identity For more information about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, log on to the Department of State Web site at www.travel.state.gov or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Web site at www.cbp.gov, or call the U.S. National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

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