U.S. Proposes New Passport Deadlines

September 1, 2005

The Departments of Homeland Security and State have proposed a new timeline for implementation of restrictions that would require Americans to proffer passports for travel throughout the Western Hemisphere.

This official proposal comes two weeks after a previously proposed timeline was withdrawn; the original timeline, announced back in April, would have phased in the new restrictions for many major cruise destinations over three years. The islands in the Caribbean (as well as Bermuda, Central and South America) would have been the first to require passports, on December 31, 2005, followed by Mexico and Canada on December 31, 2006. Caribbean tourism officials made a case against the preliminary deadlines because they feared a blow to the Caribbean tourism industry, citing that countries such as Mexico and Canada would have an unfair advantage in welcoming Americans without passports for another full year.

The newly proposed timeline is as follows:

December 31, 2006 -- Passport required for all air and sea travel to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda.

December 31, 2007 -- Requirement extended to all land border crossings as well as air and sea travel.

Currently, Americans need to show a birth certificate and photo ID (such as a driver's license) for travel to and from the Caribbean, as well as Canada, Panama, Bermuda and Mexico.

Looking to sound off? You're in luck: The proposal is currently open for public comment. Those wishing to comment on the proposal may access the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov.