12 On Your Side: New passport rules

By Diane Walker - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A critical travel deadline is coming up, if you plan to vacation, anywhere, in the western hemisphere, this summer, you'll need a passport.

We're talking about passport changes that apply to everyone. Even if you're taking a road trip.

Right now, no passport is needed for travel, between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Bermuda and Panama. A birth certificate and photo I.D. are enough. But, that will change, next month.

"Starting June 1 everyone's gonna need a passport for all air, land and sea travel," said US Postal Service Cathy Boule.

This latest passport requirement is the final phase of, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative put in play, after the 9-11 terrorists attacks. The goal is to secure U.S. Borders from future terror strikes.

"This is going to affect cruises, it'll affect day trips, road trips into Canada and Mexico. Just to be safe, everyone get your passport," said Boule.

Starting Monday, June 1 passport travel rules will include land and sea travel to places like Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda. Homeland security sees it as blanket protection covering the air, seas, and ground.

To avoid a passport train wreck, like a few years ago, the state department has hired 500 additional staff.

"It seems like they're very prepared. I've check the time to get the passport and it's consistently been 4 to 6 weeks, haven't seen that rise over the last couple months," said Boule.

Also, the local postal service, is holding special weekend hours, to avoid a rush, and to help travelers get their passports quickly and without problems.

"All people must apply. It doesn't matter if you're two months old or you're 80 yrs old. Everyone must come in person," Boule said.

When you go to the designated post offices, to apply for a passport, you will need to bring two important documents: Proof of U.S. citizenship like a birth certificate, a previous passport or naturalization papers and, proof of identification, a driver's license or military, government I.D.

Adult passports are $100 dollars, children 15 and under are $85. Bring cash, debit card, or the recommended method, a check.

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