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Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
What it means for cruising

Since 9/11, new laws have been created to more clearly define identification requirements for entering the United States. The WHTI is the implementation of these laws into rules, policies and procedures for the Departments of Homeland Security and State which allows them to more effectively control who enters the country.

These pages provide information on how these new rules apply to, and affect cruising from and to the United States.

Several months ago, the DHS published a proposed version of the WHTI rules, which gave the travel community a heads up on what was coming, and started everyone thinking about the fact that at some point passports would be a requirement, not a convenience. The proposed dates of final implementation were changed a time or two, possibly because the State Department became overwhelmed with new Passport Applications during the Summer of 2007, so much so that the waiting period was as long as four months!

Early in 2008, the Final Rules for the WHTI were released, with a solid implementation date of June 1, 2009 finally made known. The following pages provide more information on how this new rule affects the cruise community.

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

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

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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