Passport Now Required for Travel to Mexico & Canada

June 1, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Before making summer vacation plans outside of the U.S. travelers will now need an extra piece of identification. New passport rules apply to all travelers 16 and older. It's called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Now travelers are required to show a passport or other documentation to prove citizenship before entering the country.

For Silver Gonzales this photo is her ticket to get in and out of the country. Without a passport she would be unable to cross the Mexico border and return home. "Just applying for my passport, so I won't have trouble, no problems going back and forth."

Beginning Monday, June 1st, every U.S. citizens must present a passport for air, land, and sea travel to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said using passports should not slow down the traveling process because passports are embedded with electronic chips. "So you won't have to swipe it. You won't have to physically put it in a machine or anything. The information is read via radio frequency waves so as your walking through they will be able to verify the photo and information that's on the card with the person in front of them."

While using passports may be easier, if you are visiting the U.S., the T.S.A. has implemented tougher rules for traveler ID's. "You have to make your reservation using the full name that you have on your Government sponsored ID card, your driver's license for example. And that is intended to cut down on the number of misidentifications at the T.S.A. checkpoint and can actually overall move the process much more quickly."

Travel agent Linda Jason said she has helped her customers continue on with vacations, even after forgetting a passport. "I haven't heard of anyone getting to the airport and not having a passport and being denied boarding. Because when they have a travel agent, they ask those questions a head of time."

There are a few exceptions to new travel rules and those apply to people on cruise ships.

Travelers without a passport will be allowed to re-enter the U.S., but they will receive a warning and must pass a background check.

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