According to the U.S. Department of State, those who travel to and from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Panama, and the Caribbean will soon be required to have a passport or other secure document. Due to needed security measures, the U.S. Government is keeping their promise to ensure the safety of its citizens.
The 2004 Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act will be put into effect in stages. They will be following a timeline so that the transition will allow those affected to meet the requirements by the deadline. By January 1st, 2008, those traveling to or from the countries of Mexico, Canada, Bermuda, Panama, and the Caribbean will need to have a passport or other secure and accepted document to enter or re-enter the United States.
Phase 1 will require travelers by air and sea to the above mentioned countries to have a passport or another secure and accepted document to enter, or re-enter, the United States. This will be in effect as of December 31, 2006.
Phase 2 will require the same, but of land border crossings as well as sea and air. This will take effect as of December 31st, 2007.
When you consider that it takes 6 weeks on average to get a passport, anyone even thinking about travel into or out of the U.S. should start the process sooner rather than later. Of course, for an additional cost of $60 and overnight delivery charges, you can always expedite the process. The cost for a passport is $97 for anyone 16 years old and older, and $82 for anyone under 16 years old. Keep in mind that as of January 1st 2008, everyone will need a passport, regardless of age. Once you get your passport, it is valid for a long time. If you were 16 years old or older when you got it, it is valid for 10 years. If you were 15 years old or younger when you got it, it is good for 5 years. The biggest complaint from most about the entire process, of course, is the money that it takes to get a passport. But, at under $100 for 10 years, that’s less than ten dollars per year.
To start the process, just go to the Passports Home Page. They have a “How to get a passport” section to help you through it all. There you can download application form DS-11 (application for passport). You can even get the application forms at any local post office.