Starting January 23rd, 2007, the citizens of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Bermuda will be required to present a passport to enter the
United States while arriving by air from any part of the Western Hemisphere.
It is expected that there will be a smooth transition to the new passport
requirement based on the current numbers of travelers arriving at U.S. airports
with passports. It is reported that over 90 percent of U.S. citizens, 97 percent
of Canadians, and virtually 100 percent of Mexicans and Bermudans who flew
to the United States over the past week arrived with passports. The recommendations
made by the 9/11 Commission has resulted in this change in travel document
There are alternative documents to a passport made available for air travel
which can be the Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) and the NEXUS Air card.
The MMD, or "z card", is issued by the U.S. Coast Guard to U.S.
Merchant Mariners. The NEXUS Air card is issued to citizens of Canada and the
United States, lawful permanent residents of the United States and permanent
residents of Canada who meet certain eligibility requirements. The NEXUS Air
card will only be accepted when used in conjunction with the NEXUS Air program
at certain airports. The MMD card will only be accepted for official business
by U.S. Citizen Merchant Mariners. All the United States Armed Forces active
duty members traveling to the United States with military identification will
be exempted from the requirement to present a valid passport. Legal Permanent
Residents of the U.S. may re-enter on their I-551 Permanent Resident Card.
A separate proposed rule addressing land and sea travel is expected to be
published later with specific requirements for travelers entering the United
States through land and sea border crossings. By Jan 1, 2008, citizens traveling
between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America,
the Caribbean, and Bermuda by land or sea may be required to present a valid
passport or other documents to enter the United States.