Tag Archives: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Deadline Approaches

The U.S. State Department is reminding travellers to apply for their travel documents (or to make sure their current documents comply) that will be required at all land or sea border crossings as of June 1, 2009.

Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) U.S. citizens will be required to present a government-approved document that denotes both citizenship and identity when entering the United States.

The U.S. Passport Book and the U.S. Passport Card are the “best evidence” documents that denote both citizenship and identity. A list of other government-approved documents is available at www.getyouhome.gov/.

The Passport Card is a wallet-sized document. A Passport Card costs $45 for an adult and $35 for a child under age 16. When applied for in conjunction with a passport book or by a previous passport holder who is eligible for renewal, the charge for the Passport Card is only $20. Current passport holders, who are eligible to renew, can apply for a passport card by mail.

Please note that the Passport Card is valid only for entry to the United States at land border crossings and sea ports of entry when traveling from Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda. It is not valid for international air travel.

Information on how and where to apply for a U.S. Passport Card is available at travel.state.gov.

NEXUS now in Niagara Falls, New York.

CBP announced the opening of a joint NEXUS Enrollment Center located adjacent to the Whirlpool Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y. This is the second “Trusted Traveler” Enrollment Center within the Port of Buffalo. The other is located in Fort Erie, Ontario just across the Peace Bridge.

The new Enrollment Center is designed to make obtaining a NEXUS border-crossing card easy and convenient for nearby residents on both sides of the border. The new center also provides a second location for current members to renew their application, which must be done every five years.

NEXUS is a joint CBP-Canada Border Services Agency program that both the American and Canadian governments implemented to enhance border security while simplifying border crossings for pre-approved, low-risk travelers. Approximately 225,000 U.S. and Canadian citizens/residents are currently enrolled in the NEXUS program nationally. Locally, CBP and CBSA have enrolled over 38,000 individuals in NEXUS and this facility will provide increased enrollment capacity and accessibility in preparation for Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) identity document requirements on June 1, 2009.

WHTI is designed to reduce the vulnerability resulting from the sole acceptance of verbal declarations of citizenship for Americans and Canadians entering the U.S. by land or sea, by requiring approved travel documentation.  Under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, oral declarations of citizenship alone are no longer sufficient to establish identity and citizenship for entry into the United States.

Currently, U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older must present a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization certificate or they may present a single WHTI-compliant document. Children ages 18 and under are currently asked only to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. Passports and trusted traveler cards, such as NEXUS and FAST, are considered WHTI-compliant documents on the northern border and are accepted for cross-border travel.

NEXUS pre-approved travelers crossing the U.S./Canada border receive the added benefits of access to dedicated commuter lanes, expedited marine reporting and access to NEXUS kiosks at designated Canadian airports.  Effective June 1, 2009 travelers will need to present a valid and acceptable document that proves both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. Travelers on the northern border will be able to select from one of five different documentation options, based upon their needs. These include a passport, the new U.S. passport card, new state-issued enhanced driver’s license, and the two Trusted Traveler Program cards (NEXUS and FAST), which are accepted already.

NEXUS members can use dedicated lanes at selected ports along the U.S.-Canadian border. The NEXUS alternative inspection program allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to be processed with little or no delay by United States and Canadian border officials. There are currently 18 land border crossings that offer NEXUS and the program is also available in the air and marine modes. Locally, members can use dedicated lanes at the Peace Bridge and Rainbow Bridge border crossings. The Whirlpool Bridge is dedicated as a NEXUS only crossing, the only border crossing in the country to be designated as such. Travelers can apply online at www.nexus.gov.