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Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The Passport Requirements

The Passport Requirements - who needs a passport, for what, and when?

There are two answers to this question, based on June 1, 2009, which is the date that the Final Rules of the WHTI take effect.

Between now and June 1, 2009 - US Citizens are required to present proof of identity and proof of citizenship to enter the United States by sea. A passport is the easiest way to do this. As before, an acceptable alternative to a passport is to present a government issued photo ID, usually a drivers license, along with a government issued, certified copy of a US birth certificate.

After June 1, 2009 - US Citizens will be required to show a "WHTI compliant" document to prove identity and citizenship in order to enter the United States by sea. For most citizens, this document will be a passport.

Reference: Section V(A) (page 82) of the WHTI Final Rules, Department of Homeland Security.

Next: The Big Cruise Exception - yes Congress was being Congress, they wrote in a big "except..."

Last: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt - "just the facts, ma'am..." No you won't be left stranded overseas if you miss the ship!

Disclaimer: For those (and I know they are out there) who will want to pull their hair out upon reading some of this information, please take comfort in the fact that I have always, and continue to advise that obtaining a Passport is always the best option. In my opinion, it is well worth the expense. Having said that, it must be recognized that there are those for whom it may not be worth the expense. We are all entitled to our opinions, and if the thought of a US citizen cruising without a passport in hand makes your blood boil, then I encourage you to exercise your invaluable right as a citizen to petition your representatives to change the laws and rules as you see fit.
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Updated May 26, 2008. Comments?
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