Thursday, February 28, 2008

Documents for Travel to the United States

What is the WHTI?

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a U.S. law that requires all travelers, including U.S. and Canadian citizens, to present a valid passport or other approved secure document when traveling to, or through, the United States from within the western hemisphere. The new document requirements were implemented for air travelers to the United States in January 2007. Final document requirements for those seeking to enter the United States at land or sea ports of entry have yet to be finalized and implemented.

What is the Government of Canada doing?

For the past two years, the Government of Canada has strongly encouraged the United States to ensure that the WHTI is implemented with minimal impact on travel and trade at the border and without compromising local communities and our integrated economies.

The Government of Canada has urged the U.S. administration to take advantage of the time granted by the U.S. Congress to get the WHTI implementation right. This will allow the two governments to continue to collaborate closely on a strategy for implementing the WHTI for land and water travel in a way that will address security needs, while facilitating the flow of legitimate travellers and goods across our shared border.

A shared commitment to security and prosperity

A working group headed by senior officials of the Canada Border Services Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is directing the work of government representatives.

Canada is concerned about the economic and community impacts of the WHTI if it is implemented before travelers on both sides of the border have obtained approved, secure documents.

Identifying secure documents

Government of Canada officials are working closely with their U.S. counterparts to determine which alternative documents would be accepted at land and water ports of entry by the time the WHTI is fully implemented, at the earliest, on June 1, 2009.

Canada is working with the United States to ensure that the WHTI implementation increases security at the border without compromising the flow of legitimate trade and travel.

As part of this effort, the Government of Canada’s negotiations have led to recognition that enhanced driver’s licences (EDLs) and the Certificate of Indian Status card could potentially serve as acceptable alternatives to passports at the Canada-U.S. land and water borders.

The Government of Canada’s efforts have also resulted in Canadians aged 18 and under being allowed to present only a birth certificate to enter the United States by land and water.

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