The latest regulations from U.S. Customs and Border Protection explain some of the exceptions being made for Special Group travel, such as teen and school group tours.
U.S. border crossing requirements changed in June of 2009. The following information concerns the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) as it affects Air and Land Travel for U.S. Citizens. It offers options for families who may not want to invest in a passport for each child to apply for some alternative Identification options and explains all compliance details. This information on regulations for Special Group Travel is excerpted from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website as of July 2011. Please check their site for updates.
Children: Since June 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 16 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.
Groups of Children: Also as of June 2009, U.S. and Canadian citizen children under age 19 arriving by land or sea from contiguous territory and traveling with a school group, religious group, social or cultural organization, or sports team, may also present an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a Naturalization Certificate, or a Canadian Citizenship Card.
The group should be prepared to present a letter on organizational letterhead with the following information:
- The name of the group and supervising adult,
- A list of the children on the trip, and the primary address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, and name of at least one parent or legal guardian for each child,
- A written and signed statement of the supervising adult certifying that he or she has obtained parental or legal guardian consent for each participating child. Read more about this Permission to Travel Letter and download a blank form to carry with you.
Native Americans: Native Americans will be able to continue presenting tribal documents until further notice, provided they are affixed with a photo. Customs and Border Protection is working closely with interested Native American tribes toward the development of an enhanced tribal card that complies with WHTI.
"Closed Loop" Cruises: U.S. citizens who board a cruise ship at a port within the United States, travel only within the Western Hemisphere, and return to the same U.S. port on the same ship may present a government issued photo identification, along with proof of citizenship (an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a Consular report of Birth Abroad, or a Certificate of Naturalization). Please be aware that you may still be required to present a passport to enter the foreign countries your cruise ship is visiting. Check with your cruise line to ensure you have the appropriate documents.
U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents: U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents can continue to use their permanent resident card (Form I-551) or other valid evidence of permanent residence status.
U.S. Military: U.S. citizens can present a valid U.S. Military identification card when traveling on official orders.
Merchant Mariners: U.S. citizens may present an unexpired Merchant Marine Document in conjunction with maritime business.
Ferries and Small Boats: Passengers on ferries and small boat operators are processed much like travelers entering the U.S. through a land border. They are required to present one of the travel document that complies with WHTI.
Boaters: I-68 Registration Holders: Boaters who have an I-68 form will need to follow the new travel document requirements. A NEXUS card is an alternative to a passport for entry into the U.S., and ensuring that you have either a NEXUS card or a passport will enable you to continue to utilize telephonic clearance procedures currently in place for I-68 holders.
An I-68 form is similar to a vehicle registration, and is not an identity document or a travel document.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.