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What is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)

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Question: What is the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)
Answer: The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is part of the US government's plan to strengthen border security. The WHTI affects travel to Canada in that it will require all travelers to and from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Bermuda to present a passport to enter or re-enter the United States. Therefore, American visitors to these countries may be refused entry if they do not present a passport, Merchant Mariner Document (MMD), or NEXUS Card .

For many years, US citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere including Canadians and Mexicans, have not been required to present a passport to enter or re-enter the United States.

The initiative will be implemented in two phases as follows:

January 23, 2007* – Passports, Merchant Mariner Documents (MMDs) or NEXUS Cards will be required for all air travel, and most commercial sea travel, from within the Western Hemisphere for citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda. This is a change from the previously scheduled date of January 1, 2007, to accommodate holiday travel.
*Note that as of June 8, 2007, the US government relaxed passport re-entry requirements due to a backlog of passport applications. Thus, until September 30, 2007, US citizens arriving in Canada by air need only present proof of passport application rather than a passport itself.

June 1, 2009 – The deadline for all Western Hemisphere travel, including land border travel. The specific requirements for the land border crossing will be outlined before this date.

Bottom Line: Get your passport and avoid any hassles. Start the process early - there may be other documents you require to get your passport, which in turn will take time. For more information on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, visit the Canada Border Services Agency.

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