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Passport Please

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative Demystified

If you are planning to travel to the United States - by air, land or water - you'll need to know the ins and outs of something called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

The WHTI is a U.S. law that calls for all travellers, American and Canadian, to show a valid passport or other document when entering the U.S. from the Western Hemisphere. It is being implemented in stages with the air travel portion coming into effect in January 2007. For land and sea entry, the law took effect on June 1, 2009.

Although the Government of Canada recommends that travellers carry a valid Canadian passport for all visits abroad there are some other secure documents that you can present for air travel.

The NEXUS card is one such document. NEXUS is a joint venture between the Canada Border Services Agency and United States Customs and Border Protection that expedites border clearance for low-risk, pre-approved members. It costs CAN$50 or US$50 per applicant for a five-year membership card.

For entry by land and sea, travellers can present a Government-issued photo ID plus proof of citizenship, or a FAST card (for low-risk, pre-approved commercial importers, carriers and registered drivers) or an Enhanced driver’s licence/enhanced identification card. To read more about the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, visit the Canada Border Services Agency website or the Department of Homeland Security website.

For everything you need to know about applying for a Canadian passport, visit Passport Canada.

Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.