US Passports & Visas, Plus Other Travel Document Requirements
All U.S. citizens including children must present a passport or other approved travel document when entering the United States by air. U.S. citizens can present a passport, NEXUS card at airports with NEXUS kiosks, U.S. military ID with travel orders, or a U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when on official business.
Land and Sea Travel
The following summarises information available on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website.
Beginning June 1, 2009
U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry are required to have documents that comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), most commonly a U.S. passport, a passport card, a trusted traveller card such as NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST, or an enhanced driver’s license. See the complete list of WHTI-compliant documents.
Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens travelling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.
U.S. PASSPORT AND WHTI COMPLIANT DOCUMENTS:
U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when travelling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.
The Passport Card: Passport card applications are currently accepted in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. Based on current projections, we expect the passport card to be in full production beginning in July 2008. We will provide additional updates as available. Once in production, the Passport Card it will only be valid for land and sea travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean region, and Bermuda.
WHTI-Compliant Travel Documents for U.S. citizen travel via land or sea, as of January 31, 2008:
Trusted Traveler Cards (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST)
State Issued Enhanced Driver’s License (when available)
Enhanced Tribal Cards (when available)
U.S. Military Identification with Military Travel Orders
U.S. Merchant Mariner Document when travelling in conjunction with official maritime business
Native American Tribal Photo Identification Card
Form I-872 American Indian Card
For further information see U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
About Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travellers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on February 22 its intent to propose, as part of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI), significant flexibility regarding travel documents required for U.S. and Canadian children as part of WHTI requirements for U.S. land and sea border entry in 2008.
The goal of the initiative is to strengthen U.S. border security while facilitating entry for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardised documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveller.
Final Rule – Air Phase (PDF)
Final Rule – Passport Card (PDF)
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Land/Sea Rule
Other Relevant Links
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Applying for a Passport
Different situations require different documents. Please become familiar with the specific record requirements for the country(s) you are visiting. You can find more information on these documents here:
US Citizens – Passports
US Citizens – Visas for entry into foreign countries
Foreign Visitors and Immigrants – Visas
Authentication of Documents
U.S.CIS How to Get a Travel Document
USCIS Emergency Travel Information
Other Important Links
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
International Travel Information: Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country Specific Information and Country Background Notes