As a result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 into law. The new travel document requirements make up the Departments’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).
The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate.
The goal of the Initiative is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to quickly, reliably and accurately identify a traveler.
In order to obtain national security benefits as quickly as possible, and to expedite the processing of arriving passengers, the plan will be implemented in two phases:
The first phase:
Effective January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document (MMD), or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.