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Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative

New requirements for U.S. Citizens

AIR TRAVEL

ALL PERSONS traveling by air outside of the United States are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.
LAND AND SEA TRAVEL
The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.

  • CURRENTLY: 
    U.S. citizens need to present either (a) a passport, passport card (available in spring 2008), or WHTI-compliant document; or (b) a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.
  • LATER:
    On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of WHTI.  The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or WHTI-compliant document

Note: The passport requirement does NOT apply to U.S. citizens traveling to or returning directly from a U.S. territory.

Traveling to and from U.S. Territories

U.S. Citizens traveling to and returning directly from a U.S. territory are not considered to have left the U.S. territory and do not need to present a passport.

U.S. territories include:

  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • Swains Island
  • U.S. Virgin Islands

U.S. PASSPORT AND WHTI COMPLIANT DOCUMENTS: 

  • U.S. Passport: U.S. citizens may present a valid U.S. passport when traveling via air, land or sea between the U.S. and the aforementioned Western Hemisphere countries.
  • The Passport Card: Passport card applications are currently being accepted in anticipation of land border travel document requirements. Based on current projections, we expect to begin production of the passport card in June, and be in full production in July. 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 traveling 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 WHTI
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is a result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), requiring all travelers to present a passport or other document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S.
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 standardized documentation that enables the Department of Homeland Security to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.
Federal Regulations

U.S. PASSPORT CARD

APPLICATIONS FOR THE U.S. PASSPORT CARD ARE NOW BEING ACCEPTED!

Passport card applications are currently being accepted U.S. Passport Cardin anticipation of land border travel document requirements.  Based on current projections, we expect to begin production of the passport card in June, and be in full production in July.  We will provide additional updates as available.
 

The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports-of-entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.  The card may not be used to travel by air.  It will otherwise carry the rights and privileges of the U.S. passport book and will be adjudicated to the exact same standards.

Note: A previous passport book holder, eligible to use Form DS-82, may apply for a passport card as a Renewal.  First time applicants for a U.S. Passport, and those not eligible to use the DS-82, should apply for a passport card using Form DS-11.

The Department of State is issuing this passport card in response to the needs of border resident communities for a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book.  The card will have the same validity period as a passport book: 10 years for an adult, five for children 15 and younger.  Adults who already have a fully valid passport book may apply for the card as a passport renewal and pay only $20.  First-time applicants will pay $45 for adult cards and $35 for children.   

To facilitate the frequent travel of U.S. citizens living in border communities and to meet DHS’s operational needs at land borders, the passport card will contain a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip.  This chip will point to a stored record in secure government databases. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip itself

Passport Card Layout

The Passport Card is formatted according to specifications for TD-1 size travel documents, as described in ICAO Document 9303, Part 3, Volume 1. The card contains both eye readable and machine readable information.  For machine reading, information corresponding to personal data is printed in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ).

Front of Passport Card blank artwork Passport Card back artwork

Figure 1:  Front of Card blank artwork

Figure 2:  Card back artwork, showing “PASSsystem” (in color shifting ink) location and which will include a unique preprinted card number and 3 of 9 1D bar code, and room for the MRZ.

Learn more about U.S. Passport Card

Passport Acceptance Facility Search

This site will allow you to find the nearest location to apply for a passport. It is provided by the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Office of Passport Services/Customer Service, which designates many post offices, clerks of court, public libraries and other state, county, township, and municipal government offices to accept passport applications on its behalf. This page allows you to search by one of three search scopes - Zip Code, State, or State/City.  Once you enter your criteria, click on the "Search" button to view a list of the nearest designated passport application facilities.

Search By:    
ZIP Code:     facilities
      miles
     
State:
City: 
Additional Search Criteria:              

Please note that information on this site changes weekly.

U.S. Passport Card Frequently Asked Questions

What is the passport card?

The passport card is a wallet-size card that can only be used for land and sea travel between the United States and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card will provide a less expensive, smaller, and more convenient alternative to the passport book for those who travel frequently to these destinations by land or by sea.

Why can’t I use the passport card to fly to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Bermuda?

The passport card is designed for the specific needs of the northern and southern border resident communities and is not a globally interoperable travel document as is the traditional passport book. While the passport card has limited use, the passport book will remain the premier internationally accepted travel document.

Didn’t Congress just pass a law delaying passport requirements for land border crossings and sea travel until June 2009?

Questions about the implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) must be referred to the Department of Homeland Security, which is the federal agency charged with deciding and implementing the documentary requirements. Our role in WHTI is to produce passport books and passport cards for international travel. Please check the Department of Homeland Security website at http://www.dhs.gov/xtrvlsec/crossingborders/index.shtm for the latest information on travel document requirements.

Does the passport card contain an electronic chip?

To facilitate the frequent travel of Americans living in border communities, and to meet the Department of Homeland Security’s operational needs along the land borders, the passport card will have a vicinity-read radio frequency identification (RFID) chip. With this technology, Customs and Border Protection inspectors will be able to access photographs and other biographical information stored in secure government databases before the traveler reaches the inspection station.

Won’t this chip violate Americans’ privacy?

There will be no personal information written on the electronic chip itself. The chip will have only a unique number pointing to a stored record contained in secure government databases.

How secure is the card?

The Department has decided to use laser engraving and will include state-of-the-art security features to mitigate against the possibility of counterfeiting and forgery. In addition, to mitigate any possibility that the card could be tracked, it will be issued with a protective sleeve that will prevent the card from being read when not in use.

We are taking every care to ensure that this passport card is as secure as current technology permits. There will be no personal information written to the RFID chip.

What is RFID Technology?

Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) has been used successfully along our land borders with Canada and Mexico since 1995 in the Department of Homeland Security’s trusted traveler programs, such as NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST. U.S. border officials are able to expedite legitimate cross-border travel and trade of those trusted travelers who carry membership cards with vicinity read RFID chips that link to government databases. Membership in these programs currently exceeds 400,000.

RFID technology has been commercially available in one form or another since the 1970s. It can be found in car keys, highway toll tags, bank cards and security access cards. The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers, who staff the ports of entry, anticipate that the speed of vicinity RFID will allow CBP officers, in advance of the traveler’s arrival at the inspection booth, to quickly access information on the traveler from secure government databases, and allow for automated terrorist watch list checks without impeding traffic flow. In addition, they foresee that multiple cards can be read at a distance and simultaneously, allowing an entire car of people to be processed at once.

The RFID technology embedded in documents will not include any personally identifying information; only a unique number that can be associated with a record stored in a secure government database will be transmitted.

When will the passport card be available?

Applications for the U.S. passport card are now being accepted.  Based on current projections, we expect to begin production of the passport card in June and be in full production in July.  We will continue to update Travel.State.Gov with information regarding passport card production.

Why are you accepting applications for the passport card before it is being produced?

We are aware that some Americans, particularly along the borders, will want to have the passport card as soon as it is available. For those customers, we want to give them the opportunity to apply for it in advance.

Where do I apply for a passport card?

First time applicants can apply at any one of our 9,300 Passport Application Acceptance Facilities across the country. Applicants can locate a facility nearest to them by checking our website at http://travel.state.gov.

Can I apply for the passport card and passport book at the same time using the same application?

Yes.

What documents will I need in order to apply for a passport card?

The passport card is a fully valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer. As such, the passport card is adjudicated to the exact standards as the passport book. Applicants must provide documents which attest to their U.S. citizenship and identity such as birth and naturalization certificates.

First time adult and minor applicants under the age of 16 will need to submit a completed Form DS-11 "Application for a U.S. Passport", 2 photos, evidence of citizenship, the application fee for the passport card and the execution fee. These applicants must apply in person at a Passport Application Acceptance Facility.

Adult applicants with fully-valid passports can apply for the passport card by mail by submitting Form DS-82 "Application for a U.S. Passport By Mail", 2 photos, fully valid passport issued within the last fifteen years, and the passport card application fee. Please check our website, http://travel.state.gov for complete details on applying for the passport card.

How much will the passport card cost?

For first time applicants, the passport card will cost $45 for adults and $35 for children under the age of 16, which includes the execution fee of $25. Adults with fully-valid passports issued within the last fifteen years can apply for the card by mail using Form DS-82, at a cost of $20.

Why is there an execution fee for the passport book and passport card?

First time applicants, minors, and those seeking to replace a lost or stolen passport must appear in person before a person authorized by the Secretary of State to give oaths to verify their passport applications. In order to offer American citizens convenient locations to apply for a passport, the Department of State authorizes Passport Acceptance Agents to accept passport applications on its behalf. The execution fee is to reimburse the acceptance facility for the cost of the service, which provides an incentive for them to act on behalf of the Department of State. Effective February 1, 2008, the execution fee per application will be reduced from $30 to $25. Applicants applying for both the passport book and card simultaneously pay only one execution fee.

How did the Department of State decide on the cost of the passport card?

Our fees reflect the cost of providing passport services to the American public. Per regulation, the Department of State employs an independent consultant to conduct periodic and regular cost of service studies to determine the cost of providing consular services. The cost of service study indicated that the Department could issue a passport card at $20 for an adult and $10 for a child. With the execution fee of $25, the total cost for an adult is $45 or 37.5 cents per month over a ten year period.

How long will it take to receive a passport card?

Once the passport card is being produced, the processing and issuance time will be the same as for the passport book. For instance, the current turnaround time for routine service passports is about 4 weeks. Up-to-date processing times are located at http://travel.state.gov.

Can an applicant request the $60 expedited service for the passport card?

Expedited service is not available for the passport card at this time. Once we begin producing the passport card, we anticipate being able to offer applicants expedited service.

Can an applicant request overnight return delivery service for the passport card?

Neither overnight return delivery service nor Priority Mail service will be available for the passport card. Passport cards will be mailed to applicants using First Class Mail service.

Will the payment of one $60 expedite fee serve to expedite both the passport book and passport card, if applied for at the same time?

Currently the passport card is not in production. Once the passport card is in production then only one $60 expedite fee for the passport card and passport book will be collected if applied for at the same time. If the passport card and passport book are applied for at different times, the applicant would need to pay separate $60 expedite fees if requested.

If an applicant already has a fully-valid adult passport book issued within the last fifteen years, what form should be used to apply for a passport card?

The applicant can apply for the passport card using either Form DS-82 or Form DS-11. If the applicant chooses to apply using a DS-82, he/she must submit, along with the application, the fully valid passport issued within the last fifteen years, 2 passport photos, and payment to the Department of State in the amount of $20.

If the applicant chooses to apply using a DS-11, he/she must submit a completed Form DS-11 "Application for a U.S. Passport", 2 photos, evidence of citizenship, the application fee for the passport card and the execution fee. These applicants must apply in person at a Passport Application Acceptance Facility. This may be preferable to the applicant if he/she has frequent international travel requiring the use of the passport book.

How many photos are required when applying for the passport card?

Two photos are required, same as for a passport book.

How many photos are required when applying for both the passport book and passport card on the same application?

Two photos are required.

Can the passport card be used to apply for the passport book?

Yes.

        

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