New US Passport Rules

(May 28, 2008 - OSSN) -- The rules governing travel ID for international trips to and from the United States have changed frequently since the 9/11 attacks. The best advice to your clients is to recommend that they secure valid passports as soon as possible.  As the new rules might change down the road, the passport will continue to be the gold standard for travel ID to and from America’s borders.

Here is an overview of the New Passport Rules:

Passengers traveling by air: Now, all U.S. citizens (including children) must present a passport or another approved type of secure travel document when they enter any U.S. gateway via air. Don’t worry about the “secure travel document” comment, unless your clients serve in the military or meet other special conditions; the basic rule now is presenting a passport when clients return to the U.S.A. via air.

Passengers traveling by land or sea:Now through May 31, 2009, U.S. citizens ages 19 and older must present a valid passport or another combination of approved documentation establishing both (a) identity and (b) citizenship.Here’s the official list of IDs that your clients can present to satisfy this “two document” rule. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens agents 18 and under only need to show proof of citizenship, such as an official copy of their birth certificate.

Starting June 1, 2009, though, these land and sea rules change. On that date, the requirements for re-entering the U.S.A. via land or sea will convert to the air standards above - a valid passport, basically. However, your clients can also opt for a wider range of WHTI-compliant documents that will also work for land and sea travel. For example, the U.S. government is already taking applications for the new passport card that’s less expensive than a full-blown passport, but they only work for trips within the Western Hemisphere. Check this site for more details. Also, some states like Washington have begun issuing “enhanced driver’s licenses” with security features that make them acceptable as ID to federal officials. (Other states working on such licenses including Arizona, New York, and Vermont, but more states will follow suit.)

Note that one new option for land and sea travel - getting a U.S. passport card— will only work for land and sea travel. Passports cards will not be accepted for air travel.

And, to make matters more interesting, cruise passengers on a sailing that begins and ends in the same U.S. port (e.g., a roundtrip cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Caribbean) will still be allowed technically to present a government-issued photo ID and proof of citizenship (such as an official copy of their birth certificate) instead of a passport. However, if they’re not sailing roundtrip to and from the same U.S. port, they will need a passport for sure starting June 1, 2009.

For more details, check the rule details posted at these sites:,, and

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May 28, 2008
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