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Cross the Border? New travel rules soon to be effective....

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  • Kathryn.Schwenger41@comcast.net
    This was posted on one of my immigration groups and it is an excellent article on exactly what is happening on June 1, border wise and how to prepare. I m
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 22, 2009
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      This was posted on one of my immigration groups and it is an excellent
      article on exactly what is happening on June 1, border wise and how to
      prepare. I'm sorry I don't have the exact link.


      Elizabeth Rogers, 50Plus.com -

      Wed Apr 22, 12:59 PM

      Will your travel plans take you across international borders? Here's what
      you'll need to get in.

      Planning to travel to the U.S. in the near future? Remember this date: June
      1, 2009 . That's when the last phase of the Western Hemisphere Travel
      Initiative (WHTI) comes into effect and restrictions at the border will get
      even tighter. After May 31, a birth certificate and driver's license won't
      be enough to get you into the U.S. at land and sea entry points. A
      Certificate of Indian Status or Certificate of Canadian Citizenship won't be
      accepted either.

      Instead, you'll have to present a WHTI-compliant document when you cross the
      border. So what are your options?


      Best for: People who plan to travel internationally. According to Foreign
      Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT) it's " the only reliable and
      universally accepted travel and identification document available to
      Canadians for the purpose of international travel. "
      In other words, if you've got a passport, you're set to travel just about
      anywhere -- including the U.S.

      Process: It starts by filling out paperwork, gathering your I.D., getting a
      photo and finding a friend or family member to serve as your guarantor. You
      can send in your application via courier registered mail, or submit it
      through a receiving agent (i.e. designated Canada Post outlet or Service
      Canada location). You can take your application to your local MP's office
      and have staff check it over and mail it for you.
      If you're worried about mailing your birth certificate -- or want to cut the
      waiting time in half -- you can go to the nearest Passport Canada office
      instead. Some provinces only have one or two, so expect some travel time.

      Cost: The fees depends on size: 24 page passports cost $87 for adults, $37
      for children ages 3 to 15, and $22 for children under 3. The cost for 48
      page ones are slightly higher at $92, $39 and $24 respectively. Photos are
      extra, and there are additional fees for optional services like the $20 fee
      for Canada Post Receiving Agents, or "Express" or "Urgent" processing
      service ($30 and $70).

      Beware: If you don't have one yet -- or need a renewal -- do it now. Last
      time US entry requirements changed there were nasty backlogs of several
      weeks at application centres on both sides of the border. Hopefully,
      passport offices will be better prepared this time but the only way to avoid
      trouble is to apply or renew well in advances. Even at the best of times,
      passports can take two to four weeks to arrive.

      (Current processing times are posted here).

      For more information and forms, see the Passport Canada website.

      NEXUS card

      Best for: Canadian and U.S. citizens and permanent residents who frequently
      cross the Canada/U.S. border. NEXUS is one of two Trusted Traveller programs
      jointly run by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the U.S. Customs and
      Border Protection, and it's designed to save time and hassle for
      pre-approved, low risk travellers. Members have the option to use automated
      self-serve kiosks at airports, dedicated lanes at land border crossings and
      a phone-in feature for arrival by sea. These services can make it faster to
      use a NEXUS card instead of a passport.

      And it's not just good for land and sea: Members can use their NEXUS card
      for air travel to the U.S. or Canada.

      Cost: $50 application fee for a five year membership for adults, and $50 to
      renew. Application and renewal fees are waived for children under the age of

      Process: The reason the NEXUS card speeds up the security process is that a
      lot of the leg work is done before you reach the border. As with passports,
      you can apply online or print out a paper application. The process involves
      determining your eligibility and conducting risk assessments.
      Once you're accepted, you'll have to visit an enrolment centre in order to
      review your documents with officials and receive your membership card. In
      addition to a photograph, you'll also be required to provide biometric data
      -- like your finger prints and a digital photograph of your irises. (See the
      NEXUS Information Guide for full details and application forms).

      Beware: It won't be a quick and easy application. CSBA warns that the
      process to determine whether you're eligible or not can take six to eight
      weeks (whether you apply online or not). Once you have a membership, you
      should renew it at least three months before it expires to avoid any
      disruptions. NEXUS enrolment centres are often few and far between. Expect
      some travel time if you plan to go this route.
      Also, the availability of special services depends on location, and in order
      to use them everyone travelling with you may need a NEXUS card too. For
      instance, you can't use those dedicated security lanes if there's someone in
      your car who isn't a member.

      Free and Secure Trade (FAST) card

      Best for: Commercial importers, carriers and registered drivers. It's the
      second Trusted Travellers program, and it's meant to make it faster and
      easier to ship goods across the border.

      You might see the FAST card on a list of WHTI-compliant documents, but it's
      not an option for the average traveller. If you don't already have one,
      chances are you won't need one now. (For more information, see the CBSA

      Enhanced Drivers' License (EDL) or Enhanced Identification Card (EIC)

      Best for: Canadian citizens who cross at land and sea borders. This option
      gets the nod for convenience: Like the NEXUS card, it fits in your wallet,
      and chances are you usually have it with you. In other words, there's no
      need to scramble for special documents or cards if you want to make a
      spontaneous trip.

      EDLs are equipped with a built-in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
      chip. When you hold the card up to a special reader at the border crossing,
      the chip sends a signal to the custom officer's computer to automatically
      pull up your information -- like your biographical and biometric data. Don't
      worry: the data isn't on your chip. The chip uses a unique identification
      number which links to a secure database. In case that doesn't work, there's
      also a barcode or "machine readable zone" on the card that officials can
      The EIC operates the same way, but it's tailored for people who don't drive.
      Once the concept catches on, it's hoped that the EIC will be accepted on
      lieu of a driver's license for other purposes as well.

      The cost: Expect to pay an additional fee for an EDL on top of your usual
      driver's license fee, and the amount will depend on the where on you live.
      You'll have to pay up when you first apply and each time you renew (every
      five years) For example, in Manitoba, the additional fee is $30, and EIC
      applicants pay $50 (no license fee required).

      Currently, not all provinces and states offer EDLs. Right now only Quebec
      and Manitoba offer the program. British Columbia's pilot project is set to
      expand soon, and other provinces are looking at the technology too -- though
      there's no official word yet on when programs might launch.

      The process: You have to be a citizen of Canada and living in the province
      where you apply. You need to make an appointment and bring the necessary
      paperwork (like a Citizenship Questionnaire and Travel Restrictions
      Questionnaire for Quebec). Check with the organization/service location that
      issues your license for more information on procedures.

      Beware: Critics aren't too happy with the new EDLs because of some serious
      privacy concerns. The controversy is still being debated in Ontario, and has
      even led Saskatchewan officials to put the program on hold until issues can
      be addressed.

      What's the problem? The amount of protection built into the card (or lack
      thereof). There are still a lot of questions about whether the cards can be
      read at a distance and by whom, what personal information could be
      compromised and if criminals can clone or copy cards remotely. The "always
      on" nature of the technology has some privacy advocates worried.

      If you're in one of the provinces where EDLs and EICs are available, it pays
      to do a little research first to figure out if it's the right option. If
      you're worried, wait a while to see what problems to show up and how
      officials deal with them. You don't have to get an EDL at all --
      participation is voluntary.

      To see who offers EDLs and how to find more information, see the CBSA,
      Issuing EDLs and the Department of Homeland Security.

      Exceptions ('Special Audiences')

      As always, there are exceptions to the rules. Here's what these groups can
      expect after June 1, 2009:
      Children: Canadian citizens under 15 years old or younger won't need a
      passport for land and sea entry -- a birth certificate or Canadian
      Citizenship Card will do. The same rule applies for children under the age
      of 18 who are travelling with an organized group (like a school field trip)
      -- proof of citizenship (along with parental approval, of course) is all
      that's required.

      Even if the child has a passport or NEXUS card, a birth certificate may
      still be required to show the names of both parents. Depending on the
      circumstance -- such as travelling with a child who isn't your son or
      daughter -- additional documents like a parental consent letter and any
      custody documents may also be required. (See Passport Canada's section on
      Travelling with Children).

      People who have Indian Status: According to the government of Canada,
      there's a new Secure Certificate of Indian Status in the works for land and
      sea entry. Unfortunately, no one's sure when it will be approved and

      Boaters and passengers of ferries and small boats: Passengers and boaters
      are required to present a WHTI-compliant document when they enter the
      country by sea. If you have a passport or NEXUS card, you can phone ahead
      for clearance.

      Which is best?

      Confused yet? Remember, the trick is to figure out which option suits the
      needs of you and your family. Cost, convenience, how you travel, how often
      you travel and where you travel are all considerations. Even if you're not
      planning a trip in the near future, you may need to travel if an emergency
      comes up. What documentation will you need to get to your friends and family
      in a hurry?

      Bear in mind that these options are all secure documents. It won't be easy
      or inexpensive to replace them, and you will have to alert the proper
      authorities if your card is lost or stolen -- like the police, passport
      officials or your NEXUS enrolment centre.

      Any of these WHTI-compliant documents will do for land and sea entry. The
      trick is to apply early and be patient. The Canadian government is already
      warning people that the deadline is approaching, so expect lots of other
      like-minded people to be applying as well.

      The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
      DFAIT: Entry Requirements to the United States
      Passport Canada
      Canadian Border Services Agency
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