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A passport rule delay is in the works

A Senate panel votes to postpone enforcement for land and sea travel.

June 15, 2007|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — A Senate committee voted Thursday to delay by 18 months passport requirements for U.S. travelers entering the country by land or sea from Canada and Mexico.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a delay to June 1, 2009, because of a huge backlog in issuing new U.S. passports. Demand for passports surged after a rule change at the beginning of the year required passports for air travel between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean.

The full Senate is expected to consider the rule's delay in coming weeks.

The new passport requirement for land and sea travel, which also means Canadians traveling into the U.S. will have to show passports or identification that can be scanned at borders, was supposed to begin on Jan. 1, 2008.

Congressional offices have been inundated with calls from constituents whose passport applications have been held up for months.

In response to the passport delays and the start of the busy summer travel season, the State Department announced last week that it was relaxing the passport requirement for air travelers.

The passport requirement was put off until Oct. 1 for air travelers who could show that they had applied for passports. However, they still must show proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or naturalization document.

The U.S. began tightening rules on border crossings after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Previously, U.S. citizens freely crossed the 5,500-mile U.S.-Canada border, often with no security checks. Those who were stopped could show a driver's license, birth certificate or other form of identification for entry.

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