Temple Times Online Edition
    December 13, 2006
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U.S. citizens and others require passports to enter the U.S. by air, effective Jan. 23, 2007

The departments of State and Homeland Security have announced that beginning Jan. 23, 2007, pursuant to the Air portion of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), United States citizens and citizens of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda (Western Hemisphere) will be required to present a valid passport to enter or re-enter the United States.

There are two additional documents that will be acceptable for air travel. The first is the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) or “z­card” issued by the U.S. Coast Guard that will be acceptable for use under WHTI by U.S. citizen merchant mariners traveling on official business.

The other document is the NEXUS Air card, for which enrollment is limited to citizens of Canada and the United States, lawful permanent residents of the United States and permanent residents of Canada. Details on enrollment of this program will be posted in the future at

Travel to the United States through land and sea border crossings will be addressed in the second phase of WHTI, which is expected to be implemented as early as Jan. 1, 2008. Under Phase Two when implemented, U.S. citizens traveling between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea will be required to present a valid U.S. passport or another secure identity document as determined by the Department of Homeland Security.

The final rule on air travel is available for review on the Department of State's consular website, travel.state.gov and on the Department of Homeland Security's website, www.dhs.gov.

U.S. citizens can find information about how to apply for a passport on the Department of State’s website at www.travel.state.gov. Foreign nationals should contact their country’s passport office or consulate in the United States.