DHSannounces passport flexibility

Published on Thu, Mar 1, 2007 by eg Olson

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DHS announces passport flexibility

By Meg Olson

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing to loosen the passport requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) to exempt children 16 years and younger from being required to carry passports when the rule goes into effect at land borders as early as next year.

In a February 22 announcement DHS promised the upcoming publication of a rule in the Federal Register that proposes changes to the WHTI and would be subject to public comment and review before becoming final.

The rule would allow Canadian and U.S. children under 15 to cross the border with parental consent and a certified copy of their birth certificate. Youth between 16 and 18 would only need their certified birth certificates to cross the border if they were traveling with a school, church, sports or other youth activities group.

DHS has said the WHTI requirement for every traveler to the U.S. to have a passport or other approved travel document could be in place at land and sea ports as soon as January 2008. Passports are currently required for air travel to the U.S. and the proposed rule would not affect that.