On Friday, June 8, 2007, the State Department suspended its recent requirement that U.S. citizens flying to and from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda have a valid U.S. passport. The new rule was instituted as part of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which since January 2007 has required U.S. citizens to use passports when entering Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean by air. The rule has created a dramatic surge in passport applications over the last several months. From March to May, the State Department issued more than 4.5 million passports, and has millions more to process, according to consular affairs officials. The backlog has created significant trouble for travelers waiting for their passports in order to vacation. Until September 30, 2007, travelers will be allowed to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda without a passport if they present a State Department receipt showing they have applied for a passport and another form of government-issued identification, such as a driver's license. Children under the age of 16 traveling with their parents or legal guardian will be permitted to travel with the child's proof of application. Those without passports should expect additional security checks at the airport. Please note, Americans traveling to a country that requires passports must still present those documents.
As early as January 2008, the State Department will begin to implement the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative at land and sea ports of entry. A proposed rule outlining a phased implementation is expected in the coming weeks. We will continue to update you on the latest passport requirements.