Earlier this month, I drove to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada for a long weekend. I flashed my driver’s license at the border and was waved through. The ease of travel there, and the common language and culture, makes Canada seem more like the 51st. state than a foreign country. It will feel a little more foreign on June 1st when U.S. passports will be required for entry. I asked the Canadian customs official on the way in why Canada imposed this new requirement on their peace loving southern neighbor. “It’s not us, it’s you guys,” he explained. The United States will require passports (or a passport card) for all returning U.S. visitors. Since this will be our ticket out of Canada, Canadian officials want to see our passports on the way in so they will not be stuck with us. Travelers should keep up to date on new passport requirements.
These new requirements will also affect international travelers returning from Mexico, the Caribbean and the beautiful island of Bermuda. This new requirement is a delayed implementation of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, introduced in 2004, designed to protect us against unwelcome visitors after the 2001 tragic terrorist attack. It remains to be seen whether this will actually filter out terrorists or will simply inconvenience legitimate travelers. Nevertheless, Travel Clinics of America vigorously supports the effort. Is your passport expiring soon? If so, we advise you to renew it soon, before an urgent business meeting or emergency requires traveling across our northern or southern border. Your birth certificate, driver’s license, fitness club ID, Boy Scout Merit Badge and winning smile won’t be enough anymore.
Traveling soon? Your travel doctor can make sure that all of your necessary documents and travel vaccinations are up to date.