Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) is a United States legal framework from 2007 that requires all travelers to show a valid passport or other approved secure document when traveling to the U.S. from areas within the Western Hemisphere. The purpose, according to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for both legitimate U.S. citizens and foreign visitors. The initiative is an outcome of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, which was approved after the 9/11 (2001) al Qaeda mass-terror attacks on the US. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was also implemented to deter or prevent the use of forged documents, both for terror and criminal purposes.
- Beginning on January 23, 2007, all persons (including U.S. citizens) traveling by air to the United States from all foreign countries (including Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda) were required to present a valid passport, NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard/Merchant Mariner Document.
- On January 31, 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers stopped taking verbal declarations of citizenship from U.S., Canadian, or Bermudian travelers as proof of citizenship arriving from sea and land ports of entry.
- On March 27, 2008, the Departments of Homeland Security and State announced that "full implementation" of the land and sea provisions of WHTI would begin June 1, 2009; on that date, the following types of documents would become the only acceptable documents for border crossings for most travelers:
- U.S. citizens and nationals: valid U.S. passport, passport card, state enhanced driver's license (available in Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington) approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security, or trusted traveler program card (Global Entry, NEXUS, FAST, or SENTRI); a valid Merchant Mariner Document when traveling in conjunction with official maritime business; or a valid U.S. military identification card when traveling on official orders. The final rule also outlines ongoing efforts to provide other alternative documents.
- U.S. lawful permanent residents: Lawful Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551).
- Canadian citizens: A valid Canadian passport, provincial enhanced driver's license (available in Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, and Ontario) or a valid trusted traveler program card (FAST or NEXUS).
- Bermudian permanent residents: A British Overseas Territories passport with valid Bermudian belonger status.
- Mexican nationals: A valid Mexican passport and a visa or a valid Form DSP-150, B-1/B-2 laser visa (also called a Border Crossing Card, or BCC); a valid SENTRI card may be used for access to expedited border crossing lanes.
US or Canadian citizen children under age 16 (or, when traveling as part of certain groups, under age 19) can also use other documents as identification, including a birth certificate, for land and sea border crossings.
Native Americans in the United States, Mexico, and Canada may be able to use certain additional forms of identification (in addition to the documents valid for citizens of those countries):
- Members of the Kickapoo Band of Texas and Tribe of Oklahoma will continue to be able to use the I-872 American Indian Card (provided that it identifies them as Kickapoo), regardless of U.S. or Mexican citizenship.
- Members of other U.S. tribes may use an "Enhanced Tribal Card", when available and approved by DHS.
- Members of Canadian tribes may be allowed to use the proposed Secure Certificate of Indian Status already designed and approved by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, waiting for DHS approval.
In addition to the other documents designated under WHTI, U.S. citizens on round-trip cruise-ship voyages that begin and end at the same port of entry in the United States may also carry a government-issued photo ID and birth certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or Certificate of Naturalization. Foreign nationals need a WHTI-designated document to travel to the United States on a cruise ship.
Nations and territories covered
Antigua and Barbuda
British Virgin Islands
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Turks and Caicos Islands
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Trinidad and Tobago
- U.S. Department of State: Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
- Canada Border Services Agency – Documents for entry into the United States - Tourism Toolkit/Fact Sheet: U.S. Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
- DHS | Crossing U.S. Borders, retrieved April 2, 2008.
- Homeland Security and State Departments Announce WHTI Land and Sea Final Rule, retrieved April 2, 2008.
- WHTI: Enhanced Drivers License
- Manitobans wait for one-piece driver's license continues
- New Quebec licence good for U.S. travel
- B.C's enhanced driver's licence for U.S. border use goes public
- Enhanced Driver's Licence Applicant's Guide
- WHTI: Special Audiences
- Secure Certificate of Indian Status - Information Kit - Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
- http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_3256.html Travel by land
- http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis_pa_tw_3256.html Travel by sea