Passports Required for Air Travel as of Jan. 23

The Departments of Homeland Security and State (DHS; DOS) published a reminder earlier this week that, as of January 23, 2007, all citizens of the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Bermuda will be required to present a passport when entering the U.S. by air from any location in the Western Hemisphere. This new requirement, the Departments say, will affect roughly 88 percent of all travelers coming to the U.S. with passports.

Since November 2006, 83 percent of U.S. citizens, 94 percent of Canadians, 88 percent of Mexicans, and 99 percent of Bermudans have had passports when arriving at U.S. airports.

The Departments note that two alternative documents will be accepted at these air ports of entry: the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) and the NEXUS Air card. The MMD, also known as the zcard, is issued to U.S. Merchant Mariners from the U.S. Coast Guard. The NEXUS Air card is issued to Canadian and U.S. citizens, and permanent residents of those two countries, who meet particular eligibility requirements. Please note that this card will only be accepted at airports participating in the NEXUS Air program. In addition, the MMD will only be accepted when the traveler is on official business with the Merchant Mariners.

Finally, all active members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempted from this passport requirement. Legal permanent residents of the U.S. will be allowed to re-enter the U.S. by using their I-551 Permanent Resident Card.

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