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May 25, 2009

Travel ID, what is best for you and your family?

On June 1, 2009, the U.S. government will implement the full requirements of the land and sea phase of Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. Be sure you are in the know about this important issue.

For complete information please visit

The proposed rules require most U.S. citizens entering the United States at sea or land ports of entry to have a passport, passport card, or other travel document approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Complete Passport Information

U.S. PASSPORT - The "gold standard" of identification documents issued to American citizens.

Pros: Accepted for air, land and sea travel worldwide.

Cons: Most expensive. A U.S. passport is $100 for an adult (valid for 10 years); $85 for children under 16 (valid for five years).

How to: Passports are issued by the U.S. State Department - 877-487-2778,


This is a cheaper, limited-use document for U.S. citizens that can be used for some land/sea travel.

Pros: Smaller than a passport - it's a laminated card resembling a driver's license - and cheaper. A U.S. passport card costs $45 for an adult (valid for 10 years) and $35 for a child under 16 (valid for five years).

Cons: Can't be used for international air travel, only for land/sea entry to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda.

How to: Passports are issued by the U.S. State Department - 877-487-2778,


Enhanced Driver's Licenses ("EDL") are now being issued or will be issued by six states: Washington State, New York, Michigan, Vermont, California and Arizona. The EDL can be used by U.S. citizens for entering the U.S. at land and sea ports of entry instead of a passport card or book. The EDL gives the holder the right to drive a vehicle, it proves the identity of the holder, and it proves the U.S. Citizenship of the holder. Because the EDL passport card is restricted in use for crossing borders only by land and sea and cannot be used for international air travel, it is recommended that travelers still maintain a traditional passport. For more information on the EDL, please visit Homeland Security's Citizens of states not issuing an EDL cannot obtain one and must apply for either a passport card or a passport book

Pros: Since drivers must carry a license, it makes it unnecessary to carry a second piece of ID for a drive or ferry trip to British Columbia. It costs $30 more than a standard license and can be obtained as a first license or when renewing.

Cons: Can't be used for country-to-country air travel and, like the passport card, is valid only for land/sea border crossings to a limited number of countries. It may not be accepted for entry into Caribbean countries; travelers should check the ID requirements for those nations in advance.

How to: For more information, contact the DMV in the issuing state. For a list of links to the 50 states DMV WebPages, click here


This "trusted traveler" card is issued to travelers who have been extensively prescreened. It's valid for U.S.-Canada land travel (there's a separate card for U.S.-Mexico travel) and also can be used for faster screening at some airports and by boaters at marine ports.

Pros: Drivers can use fast-clearance, Nexus-only lanes at some border crossings. The Nexus pass, a radio-frequency identification card that looks like a driver's license, is scanned at the dedicated lane. This lets drivers avoid the sometimes-long waits at border crossings.

Cons: Applicants must fill out detailed forms, be interviewed in person and fingerprinted. Getting the card can take weeks or months. It's only valid for travel between the U.S. and Canada.

How to: The Nexus card is issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection - 866-639-8726,

It costs $50 and is valid for five years.

To use the dedicated Nexus lanes at border crossings, everyone in the car must have a Nexus card. If not, standard border lanes must be used.

More information: See the federal Web site for information on the new ID requirements.

Note: Cruise Ship Passengers: U.S. citizens on closed-loop cruises (cruises that begin and end at the same U.S. port) will be able to enter or depart the country with a birth certificate and government-issued photo ID. Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the countries your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents.

CruiseCompete Highlighted Video: Instead of the Ocean, Try a River Cruise.

This brief (2:12) video highlights some of the key benefits of river cruising, and discusses how it differs from ocean voyages.

See more informational videos on CruiseCompete's Youtube channel and subscribe to get updates as new videos are posted. If you like what you see, please rate the videos and send them to your friends.

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