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Passport Update (U.S. Citizens)
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Page 1 of 1Total of 2 messages
Posted by:Apr 7th 2005, 09:40:41 pm
Fig Tree News TeamFrom the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board:

Effective January 1st, 2006 there is a very strong possibility that ALL American visitors returning to the US from The Bahamas will be required to have a US passport (see below). As you know, US citizens can either now use a valid photo ID along with their original birth certificate (or a birth certificate with a raised seal) OR a valid US passport. Come January 1st, 2006 the former may no longer be an option!

The BHA, along with the Ministry of Tourism is lobbying the US Government to delay this until January 1st, 2007 - as the US Government has agreed to do for air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada - but there is no guarantee that this will indeed happen.

What does this mean? If you are planning to reprint any of your brochures or make any updates to your websites, etc., you may wish to somehow note this fact and also refer prospective guests to: or

By the way, this is but one reason why you need to try and attend the bi-monthly BHA meetings.

Regards, and stay tuned!


Frequently Asked Questions about the New Travel Document Requirements (FAQs)

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What is the new travel document requirement?

All travelers to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Canada or Mexico will be required to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearer’s identity and nationality to enter or re-enter the United States. This is a change from prior travel requirements. The goal is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors. This new requirement will be known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

Who does this requirement affect?

All United States citizens traveling within the Western Hemisphere who do not currently possess valid passports will be affected.

Certain foreign nationals who currently are not required to present a passport to travel to the United States, namely most Canadian citizens, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and Mexican citizens will also be affected.

When will the new travel initiative requirement be implemented?

The travel initiative requirements will be rolled out in phases, providing as much advance notice as possible to the affected public to enable them to meet the terms of the new guidelines. The proposed timeline is as follows:
December 31, 2005 – Passport or other accepted document required for all travel (air/sea) to or from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America.
December 31, 2006 – Passport or other accepted document required for all air and sea travel to or from Mexico and Canada.
December 31, 2007 – Passport or other accepted document required for all air, sea and land border crossings.

How Do I get a passport?

U.S. citizens may visit the Passport section of this website for information on how to apply for a U.S. passport.

You should allow yourself a sufficient amount of time to apply and receive your passport in advance of travel. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing of U.S. passport applications.

Peak U.S. passport processing is between January and July. For faster service, we recommend applying between August and December.

Foreign nationals should contact their respective governments to obtain passports.

Other than a passport, what types of documents will be acceptable under this initiative?

The passport is the document of choice because of the incorporated advanced security features. Individuals traveling to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico or Canada are encouraged to obtain a passport.

For land border crossings, other documents that we anticipate will be acceptable under this Initiative are SENTRI, NEXUS and FAST program cards. These are current international frequent traveler programs.

We anticipate that the Border Crossing Card (BCC – also known as “laser visa”) will also be acceptable as a substitute for a passport and a visa for citizens of Mexico traveling to the United States from contiguous territory.

No other document is currently available that will be an acceptable substitute for the passport, or the Border Crossing Card, SENTRI, NEXUS or FAST cards. However, we are using new technologies to create other acceptable travel documents. We will make public additional travel document options as they become available.

Why is the U.S. Government going to require a passport or other secure identity document?

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) mandated that the U.S. Secretaries of Homeland Security and State develop and implement a plan to require U.S. citizens and foreign nationals to present a passport or other appropriate secure identity and citizenship documentation when entering the United States.

For many years U.S. citizens, and some citizens of other countries in the Western Hemisphere including Canadians, have not been required to present a passport to enter the U.S. Other forms of documents, less secure than the passport, have historically been accepted.

In light of the new security efforts, the United States is requiring travelers to have a passport or other accepted document for entry into the United States.

Can the general public provide input into the planning and implementation the travel initiative requirements?

The Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), and State (DOS) are issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) in the Federal Register to provide vital information on the plan to the public and request input and/or comment on the suggested documents and possible alternative documents that can meet the statutory requirements. DHS and DOS expect to issue a more formal rule later this year following review of those comments to implement the first phase of the Initiative. This rule will take into account comments received as well as soliciting further comments on the rulemaking itself.

The government expects that acceptable documents must establish the citizenship and identity of the bearer through electronic data verification and will include significant security features. Ultimately, all documents used for travel to the United States are expected to include biometrics that can be used to authenticate the document and verify identity.

How will the new travel initiative requirements impact travel at the land borders?

The Departments of State and Homeland Security understand that the greatest potential change will occur at the land borders. The new statute specifically mandates that the concerns of border communities be considered. We recognize the implications this might have for industry, business and the general public, as well as our neighboring countries, and they are important partners in this initiative. The advanced notice of proposed rule making will allow these affected publics to voice concern and provide ideas for alternate documents.
Posted by:Apr 6th 2005, 01:13:58 pm
Fig Tree News TeamPlease be informed, that as of December 31, 2005, all US citizens must carry a valid passport when leaving or entering the USA (on a flight to/from The Bahamas and other specified countries).

Airlines and charter companies will not be in a position to accept birth certificates and other photo ID for identification purposes. This is a major change in the travel document requirements for US citizens going and coming from The Bahamas. For more information go to either
- or Department of State web site.

Axel Mixa

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