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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

by Emily
May 2005

Editor's note: while this was all true when Emily wrote the article, the US Government has since extended its December deadline for Americans requiring passports when returning from any Caribbean island but we strongly recommend that you travel with one in this area. (The current date for requiring passports when returning from Canada and Mexico is 1/1/2008)

e are all going to have to start packing a little heavier when travelling to the Caribbean. Where previously a valid photo ID and birth certificate were sufficient, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will shortly be requiring a passport for entry or re-entry into the United States. These requirements will affect all travellers, even children, regardless of age.

This plan is to be implemented in phases with the goal of strengthening border security.
Beginning December 31, 2005 a passport will be needed for air and sea travel to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central & South America. By December 31, 2006, a passport will be required for air and sea travel to and from Mexico and Canada and by December 31, 2007, these requirements will be extended to cover all air, sea and land border crossings.

You would need to apply in person for your passport if you have never applied before. This also is true for applicants who do not still have their expired passport, their passport was issued over 15 years prior, the last passport issued was done so when the applicant was under age 16, or if the passport was lost or stolen. There are over 6,000 passport acceptance agencies throughout the U.S., commonly in Federal, State and probate courts and some post offices or public libraries.

The time taken to process a passport application is generally six to eight weeks. If you are travelling within two weeks, there are 13 regional passport agencies that can arrange this by appointment. Passport applications that are expidited are subject to a $60 fee in addition to application and overnight delivery costs. The busiest processing time for passport applications is January through July, so for faster service, apply between August and December. For more information on how or where to obtain a passport visit www.travel.state.gov or call the National Passport Information Center toll free at 1-877-4USA-PPT..

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  Ed Hamilton & Company
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