DO YOU HAVE YOUR PASSPORT?

As of January 23, 2007, a valid passport is REQUIRED by all U.S. citizens of all ages returning BY AIR from any international destination.

If you do not already have your passport you need to get in gear and get one if you are planning to travel outside the U.S. for Spring Break. Last year there was a temorary accomidation period, but it ended on October 31st. 2007.

For land and sea travel see bottom of page.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative requires all U.S. citizens, Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and Mexican citizens, to have a passport or other designated secure document to enter or re-enter the United States.

How to get yours!

To obtain a passport for the first time, you need to go in person to one of 7,000 passport acceptance facilities located throughout the United States with two photographs of yourself, proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license.

Acceptance facilities include many Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. If you wait until the last minute, there are also 13 regional passport agencies, and 1 Gateway City Agency, which serve customers who are traveling within 2 weeks (14 days), or who need foreign visas for travel. Appointments are required in such cases.

You’ll need to apply in person if you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time: if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession; if your previous U.S. passport has expired and was issued more than 15 years ago; if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under age 16; or if your currently valid U.S. passport has been lost or stolen.

Land and Sea Travel

As of January 31st 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens will need to present either a WHTI-compliant document, or a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, plus proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

If you are traveling on a Royal Caribbean Cruise, the Bahamas Party Cruise, or taking a bus trip to Mazatlan you do NOT need a passport. If you are traveling by LAND or SEA a state issued birth certificate with government issued photo I.D. will still be an acceptable form of proof of citizenship when traveling internationally. If you are not a U.S. citizen please contact your local consulate to find out what documents you will need for international travel

The New e-Passport

It took four years of study by the State Department to finalize the design of a new e-Passport with an embedded RF tag in the back cover. The chip will securely store the same data visually displayed on the photo page of the passport, and will additionally include a digital photograph. The inclusion of the digital photograph will enable biometric comparison, through the use of facial recognition technology at international borders.

Since August of 2007, the U.S. has been issuing only e-Passports. According to the State Department , "Passports without chips will still be valid for the full extent of their validity period."

Over the next 12 months, it is estimated 15 million U.S. citizens will be issued passports containing the RFID chip. As current passports begin to expire, the newly issued replacements will also include the RF tag, so within 10 years, all U.S. passports will incorporate an RFID.