In response to numerous reports of travelers whose trips outside the U.S. are in jeopardy because of a delay in the processing of passport requests, the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security have jointly announced a plan to ease the problem.
U.S. citizens heading to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda or countries in the Caribbean who have applied for -- but not yet received -- passports can re-enter the country by air as long as they have a government-issued photo identification card and a Department of State official proof of application for a passport. This of course doesn't impact people who are on cruises that return to the U.S. from places named above because passport requirements for cruise-based travel haven't yet gone into effect. Where it would affect a cruise traveler whose passport request was still unfilled would be folks heading to (or home from) embarkation ports outside U.S. boundaries. Vancouver, a prime turn-around point for Alaska cruises, is one such port. Montreal, which often serves as a start or end call for Canada/New England itineraries, is another.
However, folks impacted must re-enter the U.S. with a government-issued photo identification card and a Department of State official proof of application for their passport. This offer is valid for returning U.S. citizens -- again, remember this is by air, not by sea -- through September 30, 2007.
Click here to download the application. And remember this, too: Travelers flying to Europe or countries other than those listed above will still need a passport. If you're still waiting -- and your trip is fast approaching -- get in touch with the State Department and possibly even your Congressperson (who can often help expedite the process).
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor
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U.S. Passport Delays Shift Rules
June 13, 2007