U.S. Passport Deadline Looms
by: Laurie Johnson, May 15, 2009 9:05:03 pm
As of 2007, anyone traveling to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean by plane had to carry a passport.
US State Department Representative Andres Rodriguez says this year, as of June 1st, that rule applies to land and sea travel as well.
"The time is running short for the June 1st deadline, I think we're about 16 days out. So if you were to apply by mail, for example, if you were going to go to an acceptance facility — an acceptance facility is somewhere that accepts passport applications, they include postal offices, clerks of courts, other governmental offices — if you were to apply through one of these offices today, the process would take about four to six weeks."
Simple math shows if you don't already have a passport or passport card, you won't be getting one before the new rule goes into effect.
And if you're wondering what a passport card is...
"It's just like a passport in that it identifies a person's identity and citizenship, but this card is the size of a credit card and you can use it only for land and sea travel. You will not be able to use the card for air travel."
Rodriguez says the cards, which are cheaper than regular passports, are popular along the border, where people often cross to visit family.
All of these new rules and changes are the result of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which was enacted by Congress to help secure the borders.
Again, if you plan to travel anywhere outside the country after June 1st, you must have passport documents to re-enter the U.S.
Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.