Ever heard of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative?  It has a direct influence on how you travel to Punta San Carlos.  One of the children born from the Homeland Security Act, this regulation redefines what documentation will be accepted by U.S. Border agents. (It has virtually no impact on your travel into Mexico).  So what does it mean?

The travel document initiative will affect all United States citizens traveling within the Western Hemisphere, who will now be required to carry a passport or other accepted document.  (not drivers licenses or birth certificates - see website below for detail)


Implemented on January 23, 2007, ALL PERSONS traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean region are required to present a passport or other valid travel document to enter or re-enter the United States.

The following summarizes information available on the Department of Homeland Securityís website.

  • JANUARY 31, 2008
    U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driverís license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate. DHS also proposes to begin alternative procedures for U.S. and Canadian children at that time.

  • SUMMER 2008
    At a later date, to be determined, the departments 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 either a U.S. passport; a U.S. passport card; a trusted traveler card such as NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI; a valid Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders.

    The implementation date will be determined based on a number of factors, including the progress of actions undertaken by the Department of Homeland Security to implement the WHTI requirements and the availability of WHTI compliant documents on both sides of the border. DHS and DOS expect the date of full WHTI implementation to be in the summer of 2008. The precise implementation date will be formally announced with at least 60 days notice.
  • Additional fascinating facts

    In April 2005, the Departments of State (DOS) and Homeland Security (DHS) announced a proposed plan to be implemented in three phases beginning on December 31, 2005 for the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.  After further review and considering the delay in publishing the public notice in the Federal Register, DOS and DHS recognized that implementing the December 31, 2005, phase would be problematic for travelers during the upcoming winter tourism season.  This change will simplify the implementation and provide a longer lead-time for travelers to come into compliance with the requirements. 

Although this regulation was designed to protect us from ...ahhh "the bad guys", it is not very popular with the travel industry or the tourist departments of the affected governments....  It would be best to monitor this as time goes by as it may be subject to change.  For the facts Jack -


now hit the back button and get outta here