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Common sense prevails in US passports

Travel industry leaders in United States backed a move by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to temporarily allow U.S. citizens to fly to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and other…

Travel industry leaders in United States backed a move by the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to temporarily allow U.S. citizens to fly to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and other Western Hemisphere countries without a passport if they show valid photo identification and proof that a passport application has been submitted. The new process will be in effect through September 30, 2007.



Adults who have applied for but not yet received a passport should present government-issued photo identification and an official proof of application from the U.S. Department of State. Children under the age of 16 traveling with their parents or legal guardian will be permitted to travel with the child’s proof of application. Travelers who have not applied for a passport should not expect to be accommodated. U.S. Citizens with pending passport applications can obtain proof of application at: http://travel.state.gov/.



“Common sense prevails,” said Roger J. Dow, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Travel Industry Association (TIA). “This will allow travelers to make summer plans and enter the United States while our passport officials have time to address the backlog of passport applications in an effective way. It’s an important time-out that allows the machinery of government to catch up with the new laws.”



Added Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Loews Hotels and Chairman of the Travel Business Roundtable (TBR): “We’ve always supported the need for greater security and the need for federal officials to examine fewer and more secure documents. Unfortunately, the programs to process passport applications have not been able to handle the increased demand up to this point, and that backlog has created tremendous hassles for millions of travelers.”



The travel industry has urged travelers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and other Western Hemisphere countries to obtain a passport as soon as possible since the new requirement for air travelers was announced. TIA and TBR created GetAPassportNow.com, a website that educates travelers about the new requirements and deadlines, and has links to appropriate government sites for passport application information.



The new rule requiring passports from everyone entering the U.S. from Western Hemisphere countries has been in effect since January 23. Since the new requirement was announced last September, the wait time for visa application processing has ballooned from three weeks to between 10 and 12 weeks today.



The passport requirement only applies to travelers entering the U.S. by air. New passport requirements applying to those traveling by car or on cruise ships will be implemented no later than June 1, 2009, but could be put in place as early as January 2008, if government officials meet certain Congressional mandates proving they are prepared to handle the next phase.



“We have to apply what we’ve learned from this situation to the next phase of the policy that will require passports at land and sea ports of entry: Get it right the first time,” Dow said.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.

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