The U.S. Government passed the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (H.R. 5441) which included a provision extending the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) implementation deadlines. That means the new Passport rules for all U.S. citizens, and other travelers coming to and leaving from the United States, will be put in place.
By June 1, 2009, a Passport (or other accepted document) will be required for U.S. Citizens who travel by air, sea and land to and from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America, Canada and Mexico.
With cruise vacation booking windows lengthening, it is more important than ever that you recommend to your clients that they act now!
The new rules are as follows:
January 8, 2007 – Passport required for all air travel within the Western Hemisphere and abroad.
U.S. Citizens departing and returning to the United States by air after January 8, 2007 will be required to have a valid U.S. Passport. The Passport office is already busy and this will likely contribute to a backlog that could result in lengthy issuance delays as these rules take effect.
SEA and LAND
By June 1, 2009 – Passport or other accepted documents* required for land border crossings and sea travel within the Western Hemisphere. The Departments of State and Homeland Security can accelerate this June 1, 2009 date upon certifying a plan that meets certain standards for the new identification cards to make them easy to use, affordable and ensure privacy.
*Sea and land travelers will also be eligible for the PASScard, a less expensive alternative document.
Although the requirement to possess a valid Passport or PASScard for sea travel and land border crossings has been extended until June 1, 2009, the government can accelerate this date based on meeting certain standards.
Don’t delay – encourage all of your clients to get a Passport today!
Remember, without a Passport or PASScard, your clients will not be able to travel outside of the United States and you will be limited in the international leisure vacations that you can market and sell - particularly cruises. In addition, after the implementation date, U.S. clients who arrive at their Port of Embarkation without a valid U.S. Passport will not be permitted to board the ship. Information you can share with every client on obtaining or renewing a U.S. Passport can be found on the State Department's Web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport
When talking to your clients:
Reiterate that they should avoid the rush and the possibility of not being able to travel where they wish without a passport.
Remember that many Alaska cruises originate in Canada. Also, there are some Caribbean cruises that do not originate in the U.S. American clients flying to their Canadian or Caribbean Port of Embarkation will require a Passport effective January 8, 2007.
Remind clients that booking future travel to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central and South America, Canada and Mexico will require a valid Passport to re-enter the U.S.
Stress that a Passport can open the doors to travel they may not have considered before, such as cruising in Europe, Australia and Asia. (This also opens the door for a CLIA agent to recommend a new vacation option.)
Remind them that Passports are valid for ten years and if they are repeat cruisers or frequent travelers, they can consider the initial price of that Passport ($97 for a new passport and $67 for a renewal) as amortized over time.
PASScards are expected to cost approximately $50 and will be valid for only 5 years. For cruise passengers, they will only be valid for travel in the Western Hemisphere.
Inform them, that even with a confirmed booking for travel abroad, they will be denied boarding in the event they do not possess a valid Passport by the deadline.
Tips to Encourage Clients to Acquire/Renew Their Passport :
Include this information in every client’s travel documents in advance.
Send an e-mail to your client database to make them aware of the upcoming passport rules - and take the opportunity to recommend a terrific international vacation.
Establish a relationship with a Passport processing/expediting service that you use or recommend to your clients. They do the work to make it even easier and you may be able to earn a commission on the service you provide.
And finally, a U.S. Passport is easy to obtain by visiting one of the 7,000 passport acceptance facilities across the U.S. For more information about applying for a Passport, U.S. citizens may visit www.travel.state.gov or call the National Passport Information Center toll free at 1-877-487-2778 or TDD/TYY: 1-888-874-7793. Foreign Nationals should contact their respective governments to obtain details regarding current Passport requirements and application procedures.