DHS: Oral Citizenship Declarations Insufficient by Jan. 31

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State again remind the traveling public that as of Jan. 31, 2008, all adult travelers will be required to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, and proof of identity, such as a driver's license, when entering the United States through land and sea ports of entry.

This change is a necessary step to prepare travelers and ease transition to future requirements of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. WHTI proposes to establish documentation requirements for travelers entering the United States who were previously exempt, including citizens of the United States, Canada, and Bermuda. As recommended by the 9/11 Commission, Congress enacted WHTI in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. WHTI will result in both enhanced security and increased facilitation across the border once fully implemented, DHS says.

At this point, Customs and Border Protection officers can accept oral declarations of citizenship from U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry into the United States through a land or sea border. However, as of Jan. 31 oral declarations of citizenship alone will no longer be accepted for U.S. and Canadian citizens ages 19 and older. Children ages 18 and under will only be required to present proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

Passports and trusted traveler program cards--NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST--will continue to be accepted for cross-border travel. All existing nonimmigrant visa and passport requirements will remain in effect and will not be altered by this change. DOS reminds the public that current turnaround time for a passport is four to six weeks, so Americans planning international travel should apply in plenty of time. For information on obtaining a U.S. Passport visit www.travel.state.gov or call 1-877-487-2778. Specific documentation requirements for land, sea and air travel may be found at www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/vacation/ready_set_go/. To learn more about NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST, visit www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/.

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