For a long time, Americans have been used to not needing a passport when traveling to certain countries. Travelers going on vacation to the Caribbean, crossing the border into Canada and Mexico, or cruising to these destinations, only needed a photo ID and an original birth certificate.
Well, that’s been changing for a while now, and will continue to change. After 9/11, the government instituted what is called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. In essence, this initiative requires all travelers returning to the U.S. to present a valid passport. In practice, the initiative’s implementation has been done in a confusing manner, with deadlines that initially seemed to change every couple of weeks.
The result was an implementation in phases, with air travel targeted before land and sea travel. The way it stands now, you only NEED a passport for air travel. You can still cruise and cross land borders with an original birth certificate and a drivers license. The requirement to use a passport (or passport card, where applicable) for travel by land and see becomes effective on June 1st, 2009.
So, if you’re planning to cruise or travel by land after June, I recommend that you get your passport as soon as possible. Even if you’re traveling before June, I strongly recommend that you travel with a passport. The reason is simple. A passport ensures your recognition as a U.S. citizen anywhere in the world, and covers all requirements to travel anywhere in the world (except for the need for visas to some countries). More important, if you take a cruise, for example, and have to come back to the States in a hurry, you will need a passport to fly back (not even a passport card).
In summary, if you are traveling in the near future and don’t have a passport, get one! If you already have one, make sure it will expire at least 6 months after your planned return, as some countries require that to allow entry.
Have a happy 2009!Enrique Brener KC Travel N. Miami Beach, FL www.kctravel.jurni.net firstname.lastname@example.org 305-792-0618 FL Seller of Travel Reg. TI-35171