New Year’s Resolution for US and Canadian Travelers: Get Appropriate Documents Now.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (“WHTI”) is a U.S. law that requires all travellers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to present a valid passport or other approved secure document when entering the United States from within the western hemisphere. The U.S. WHTI is being implemented in stages by mode of transportation.

The new document requirements were implemented for air travel in January 2007. Final document requirements for those seeking to enter the United States at land or water ports of entry will take effect June 1, 2009.

The Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection reminds U.S. and Canadian citizens that travelers will see a change in travel document requirements at the land border in 2009, and recommends travelers adopt a New Year’s resolution to prepare now and obtain the appropriate documents. The new requirements are designed to make entering the U.S. more efficient and secure.

On June 1, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will go into effect at land and sea ports of entry, requiring travelers – including U.S. and Canadian citizens – to present an approved travel document to enter the United States. The approved documents include a passport, a passport card, a NEXUS, SENTRI or FAST trusted traveler program card or a state- or province-issued enhanced driver’s license. Travelers under age 16 need to present only a birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship. Visit for specific information on acceptable documents and how to apply for them. ( )

For travelers who have yet to obtain WHTI-compliant documents, a two-document option, such as a driver’s license and birth certificate, will be acceptable until June 1. Travelers without appropriate travel documents may face delays as CBP officers attempt to verify identity and citizenship.

WHTI-compliant documents include:

  • U.S. or Canadian passports;
  • Trusted Traveler Card (NEXUS, SENTRI, or FAST);
  • U.S. Passport Card;
  • State- or province-issued Enhanced Driver’s Licenses (when and where available);
  • Form I-872 American Indian Card, or (when available) enhanced tribal cards;
  • Military identification cards presented by members of the U.S. armed forces traveling on official orders; and
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Document (for U.S. citizens, when conducting official maritime business).

Both today and after June 1, lawful permanent residents of the United States should present acceptable evidence of their lawful residence status when entering the country, such as a Permanent Resident Card (I-551). A passport is not required.