Thursday, January 31, 2008

YTB: Update on New Government Rules on Passport Cards

Update on New Government Rules On Passport Cards and Entry to U.S.

Before you prepare for that special vacation, You need to read this!

First: New regulations go into effect on January 31st that require all persons entering or re-entering the U.S. to show proof of citizenship. Prior to that date, persons can continue to prove citizenship verbally.

Proof of citizenship can be accomplished by presenting a valid passport, an original or certified copy of a U.S. birth certificate, or an original copy of your certificate of citizenship or naturalization. We recommend a passport because it is the only document that proves both your citizenship and your identity.

Edited to add --CHANGE IN LAW- As of June 1, 2009 Passports or Passport Cards are required for ALL travel.

Second: The Department of State, the agency of the Federal Government that issues passports, issued new rules regarding the new passport card on December 31, 2007. Here is a summary of everything covered in the new regulations. As you will see, there are more rules to be issued in the future telling citizens when and how the State Department will begin issuing passport cards. When and how the State Department will begin issuing the passport cards is not yet known.

1. The State Department will issue passport cards. The official name of the document will be "passport cards." State will continue to issue "passport books" which up until now we have known as a "passport."

2. A new DS 11 passport application form will be issued between now and February 1st. On the form, applicants will be given an option to apply either for a passport card or a passport book.

3. The passport card is valid only for passage through land and sea ports between the U.S. and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda. The passport card cannot be used for flights into or out of the U.S.

4. The passport card will be issued to citizens in all 50 states but it is exclusively for use for land and sea entrance to the U.S. Passport cards cannot be used for international air travel.

5. Passport cards can be used for identification for domestic flights. Remember: the passport card can be used as government-issued proof of identity and proof of citizenship. So, if you do not have a driver's license and need identification for passing through security for domestic travel, you can use your passport card for proof of identity instead of presenting your driver's license.

6. Passport cards have the same validity as passport books 10 years for adults 16 and over and 5 years for children under 16.

7. Citizens will be able to apply for a passport card at any acceptance agent on the same basis as a regular passport.

8. Passport books must be signed on the signature page by the passport holder to be valid. Passport cards do not have to be signed to be valid.

9. The passport cards will be able to be scanned at U.S. borders when a person is in the vicinity of an electronic reader that will be operated by U.S. border control officials. The chip in the card contains only one item of information a unique identifying number that has meaning only inside the secure database of the State Department and Homeland Security Department. There is no personal information such as name, date of birth, social security number, etc. stored electronically on the chip. So, if someone did pick up the signal, they would not be able to use the data to learn anything about the holder.

10. The execution fee for applying for a passport card is $25. The execution fee for applying for a passport book is $30.

11. The fees for obtaining a passport card for persons without a passport are as follows:
Adults: Total $45 ($20 application fee, plus $25 execution fee)
Children under 16: Total $35($10 application fee, plus $25 execution fee)

12. Persons who have a valid passport book (Remember: a "passport book" means a person who has a "passport") and who are applying for a passport card (in addition to holding a valid passport) are not required to pay the execution fee. Thus, persons with a valid passport who also want a passport card can apply for $20.

13. The government may permit alternative documentation for land crossings such as driver's licenses issued by states that have established methods for determining citizenship acceptable to the Federal government. Several states have already submitted proposals to the Federal government. This matter will be addressed in subsequent regulations issued by the Federal government.

We will provide updated information as new rules and regulations are issued

This is information you will need for your dream vacations!