Cross the Border? New travel rules soon to be effective....
- 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.
BEWARE: NEW U.S. ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Canadian Border Services Agency